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U.S. To Raise Flag in Havana Once Again; New Video Of Tianjin Explosion; Japanese WWII Pilot Laments Nation's Wartime Past; Fidel Castro Says U.S. Owes Cuba Millions; U.S. Investigating ISIS Chemical Weapon Reports; Cruise Ship Today To Process Refugees; Greek Lawmakers Debate Through Third Bailout. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 14, 2015 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: It's an historic day in Cuba. The U.S. Embassy reopens in Havana. New video of a fireball in the sky, dozens die after a massive explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin. And 70 years after the end of World War II, an old Japanese fighter pilot now fights for peace.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN Newsroom. An historic day ahead for Cuba and the United States, the countries will formalize their restored ties today as the American flag rises above the newly opened embassy in Havana for the first time in 54 years.

A number of U.S. officials will be there for the ceremony, including Secretary of State John Kerry. The formal Cold War enemies agreed last year to closer ties. Cuba opened its embassy in Washington last month.

Well, for the first time, we are getting an exclusive look inside the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. Our Patrick Oppmann spoke to some employees at the embassy and the man in charge of the Diplomatic Center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the new embassy.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Words that for over a half century, U.S. diplomats in Cuba were unable to say --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the new embassy.


OPPMANN: Today, Cuba and the U.S. officially restored diplomatic relations. Officials at the embassy greeted their colleagues with hugs and American flags. CNN was granted exclusive access to the reopening.

Members of the Cuban staff marvel that the Cold War era hostilities have been overcome.

And did you ever think you'd work here and see the change that we've seen in the last six months?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I really never thought that I would see this in my lifetime.

OPPMANN (voice-over): The head of the embassy says he and his staff are taking part in history.

JEFFREY DELAURENTIS, CHARGES D'AFFAIRES, US EMBASSY IN CUBA: It's really a privilege to be part of all this. It's a privilege to be part of an administration that has made a great decision to make this change.

And it's also a privilege to be able to lead this mission as it transitions from an intersection to an embassy.

OPPMANN (voice-over): That transition is more of a sprint as staffs get everything ready for Secretary of State John Kerry's visit, redoing the long unused flagpole.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But they will use the Spanish --

OPPMANN: Hosting an influx of foreign press and planning for every contingency.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: After CMR, that anybody would want to go back to unless they'll use the Wi-Fi there. And then Justin should still be around holding spaces.

OPPMANN (voice-over): A long list of challenges in a country where few things ever seem to go right.

MARTINA POLT, MANAGER, U.S. EMBASSY IN CUBA: This is where we keep everything running.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Management Officer Martina Polt takes us to the basement to get a first look at the sign and seal that will go in the entrance to the embassy.

POLT: Pretty cool sign, isn't it?

OPPMANN (on camera): What I'm walking next to is something that hasn't been seen in 54 years in Cuba. It's a sign for the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

(voice-over): She says reopening the embassy is a high point of her career.

POLT: This is fantastic. This is a -- I think there's so many Foreign Service office that have waited to be here. And I think I'm being envied by a lot of people who say, well, this is the combination of a lot of work by a lot of people.

OPPMANN: The work will continue into the last moment. Nothing is left to chance. The Marines even practice raising the flag. But as the big day arrives, American diplomats say the U.S. Embassy in Havana is ready to step back into the spotlight. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The New York Times Ernesto Londono joins me now to talk about U.S.-Cuba relations. Thank you so much for being with us. So, let's start with Fidel Castro's defiant birthday message telling the United States it owes Cuba millions of dollars.

And significantly, his openly letter fails to make any mention of the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana Friday and comes up to diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored last month. So, what are we to make of this and what's in the timing of this letter?

ERNESTO LONDONO, NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: Well, the timing was certainly striking. And the fact that he releases this last statement just the day Secretary Kerry is coming to Havana was intended to send a message.

And I think the message he intended to say was, look, not everything has changed. There are still big issues that divide us. There are still deep grievances that we have that as a nation should not be forgotten.

I think what I read into that is I think a lot of people in the old guard of the Cuban government system are very apprehensive about what this change represents, the risk that this change represents to the -- their ability to remain in control.

[00:05:10] And we've seen Cubans react statically to this new era and to this change in policy. And I think the Cuban government, and in particular some of the older guard folks within the Cuban government, are very scared about what it means for them.

CHURCH: So on this money issue that Fidel Castro raises and it's not the first time of course, is he expecting it to be resolved in some way financially or is he just trying to make a point here?

LONDONO: Look, I think the Cuban government for years has been saying that the embargo has cost them an untold number of millions of dollars in damages. On the other hand, the U.S. and American businessmen and Cuban-Americans have been saying that the properties that the government nationalized after Fidel Castro took power costed them a fortune.

And that they want to see some of that money back. They want to see some of those land titles back. So, this is a two-way dispute. And both sides have been clamoring on this issue for a long time.

And I think now that we're seeing a change, now that we're seeing these countries start to look at each other differently, starting to treat each other differently, you're going to see posturing in both ends of this argument.

I would be very surprised if either side gets any real traction. And these are very old grievances. These are very complicated grievances. And my best guess is at the end of the day, it'll be a wash. CHURCH: All right. Well, let's take a closer look now at the

significance of the upcoming opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana for the first time of course in 54 years.

Friday's flag raising will signify the normalizing of ties between the two nations. So, what changes are likely to come as a result of this move forward?

LONDONO: I think the most important changes that in the long run, it becomes harder each day for the Cuban government to credibly say that the United States is an enemy, and an enemy that everybody needs to banded together to protect themselves from.

I think as the U.S. diplomatic mission starts operating like a normal embassy and they can have more regular routine contact with Cubans of all walks of life, Cuban officials, but also members of civil society, Cuban artists, you know, as we see people managed to approach the U.S. Embassy, managed to approach U.S. diplomats without being suspected of being traders, without being accused of working against the best interest of the state, that'll be a sea change.

I don't think it'll happen overnight. But I think the U.S. government is planting the seeds for this to happen in the long run. And I think we're already starting to see some pretty interesting steps in that direction.

CHURCH: All right. We'll be watching very carefully. Ernesto Londono, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

LONDONO: My pleasure.

CHURCH: And joining us later today, when the American flag is symbolically raised for the first time in more than half a century, live coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. That's 10:30 in Tokyo right here on CNN.

And for the most part, Cubans and Americans seem to approve of the renewed relations. But U.S. Republican Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio feels differently. He calls Cuba immoral and says he does not believe that U.S. should do business with the island. Take a listen.


MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to know why the people of Cuba are the only people in the Western Hemisphere who cannot democratically elect their leaders.

Why are the people of Cuba, the only people in the Western Hemisphere, who do not have free and unfettered unrestricted access to the Internet? Why are the people of Cuba not allowed to watch any television station they watch from anywhere in the world?

I want to know why the people of Cuba have been blockaded and isolated by their own government for almost six decades.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: And just by a way of background, Rubio's parents immigrated to the US from Cuba before Fidel Castro came into power.

A biological and chemical response team is on the ground in Tianjin, China where huge explosions jolted the city Wednesday night.

We should learn today if it's safe for them to enter the blast site where they will try to determine what chemicals ignited the explosion that killed at least 50 people. As our Will Ripley reports the sheer devastation in the port city is now coming into focus.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after a series of massive explosions destroyed so much of Tianjin, a black cloud continues to hang over the city, the air thick with a chemical stench, a sea of cars destroyed, their paint stripped off by the intense heat, broken glass cover streets and sidewalks for miles around.

And when the wind blows, more glass rains down from apartments and homes.

[00:10:04] Today, new images of those amazingly powerful blasts. This cellphone video records the moment of impact, the first blast around 11:30 at night.

Fire officials say hazardous chemicals stored in a warehouse were ignited by fire. The bright flash followed by a tremendous explosion waking people all across this port city of more than 13 million.

Another explosion followed just seconds later, seven times more powerful, the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT according to a Chinese data center. Building shook, windows blown out. Blast felt more than two miles around the epicenter.

Some likened it to a nuclear explosion, even as a mushroom cloud rose over the blast site. The house collapsed. We didn't know what happen says one survivor. Surveillance video obtained by ABC News captured the explosion's sudden fury.

This man buried under a wall of glass. At least 50 people killed. Hospitals said to be overwhelmed by the hundreds injured. More than 1,000 firefighters ran to the danger, at least 17 died and dozens are missing.

Emotions are running high. I was recording outside a hospital when a small group of people challenged me demanding to see my phone. Police arrived, but I was temporarily forced off the air.

A statement from the environmental group Greenpeace expressed what many fear. "We are concerned that certain chemicals will continue to pose a risk to the residents of Tianjin."

The company that owned the warehouse was in the business of storing dangerous chemicals. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.


CHURCH: CNN's Will Ripley reporting there. A dangerous new development in the fight against ISIS, the U.S. is investigating reports that the terror group used mustard gas in an attack against Kurdish Peshmerga this week.

It reportedly happened near Makhmour in Iraq making several people sick. CNN's Jim Sciutto has details from Washington.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF US SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The U.S. is now investigating what it says is credible information that ISIS may have used chemical weapons, specifically a mustard agent or mustard gas against Kurdish forces during an attack earlier this week in Northern Iraq.

The attack took place near the town of Marmuk (ph). This is near Erbil. Some of those Kurdish fighters exhibited breathing problems after the attack and was determined that those problems more consistent with the possibility of a mustard agent rather than chlorine gas.

There have been previous reports of ISIS using chlorine gas. The question now and it's still being determined definitively is it how would ISIS have gotten mustard agents. Number of possible explanations, they may have found shells from the Iraqi army in Iraq, or possibly from the Syrian army in Syria.

It is also possible U.S. officials say that ISIS may have developed the ability to manufacture mustard gas, again no confirmation, but U.S. officials taking these reports very seriously. It would be a significant new threat on the battlefield. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: We'll take a short break here on CNN Newsroom. But still to come, a cruise ship is on its way to a Greek island right now. Find out how it could help hundreds of refugees who've been stuck there in scorching heat with little food and water and nowhere to go.

Plus, there's talk that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is strongly considering a presidential run. But does he stand a chance against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton? We'll take a look.


[00:17:48] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. A cruise ship is expected to dock at the main port on the Greek island of Kos today. It will help process thousands of refugees, many of them fleeing war-torn Syria.

The move comes after Doctors without Borders reported that hundreds of migrants, including women and children had been kept in a hot stadium for days with little food or water as they waited for travel papers. CNN's Ian Lee has more now on the growing refugee crisis.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They wash up on Europe's shore, dazed, cold, and frightened. Every trip, every arrival for migrants in cramped boats, a potential catastrophe. Up to a 1,000 people a day make the watery journey to the Greek island of Kos.

FIRAS, SYRIAN REFUGEE: They are doctors, graduated from economy, medicine. We are all students and graduated. But there's nothing now in Aleppo. There's just war, just bombs.

LEE (voice-over): For many, this is what they leave behind, rubble, death and destruction. Promises of a better life in Europe often met with disappointment. On Wednesday, chaos broke out at a stadium turned makeshift shelter.

After authorities locked in 2,500 people with limited food, water and shelter from the sun, riot police struggled to control the situation. Dozens of people needed medical treatment according to Doctors without Borders, the most vulnerable all of this, the elderly, pregnant, and of course children.

The European Union approved 2.4 billion euros to deal with the migrant crisis of which Greece will receive almost half a billion, desperately needed for an island that's more used to dealing with disorderly tourists than refugees.

MOHAMMED ZACHEA, SYRIAN REFUGEE: The government just, the procedures were given to me very quicker, and the way that is very hard to hear. We cannot stay here, because we have some women, children, and they are all sick.

ERASMIA ROUMANA, UNHCR: Well, it is the responsibility of the national authorities to have this in an organized manner and to deal with the issue of refugees because this will continue.

[00:20:05] LEE (voice-over): Roughly, 124,000 migrants have made the voyage to Greece so far this year. And as the wars continue to ravage their homelands, so will the boats packed with refugees. Ian Lee, CNN London.


CHURCH: Greek lawmakers are locked in a marathon debate over the country's third bailout package. Parliament is expected to approve that $95 billion agreement to help

Greece avoid bankruptcy.

The proposal involves tax increases and spending cuts. But there are some of the hurdles to overcome first. Eurozone finance ministers will meet later today where they will have to sign off on the loan. Meanwhile, the IMF is pressing Europe to provide the debt relief for Greece.

We're still on financial news. Upon the opening of the Asian markets, China allowed the value of the yuan to rise against the U.S. dollar by a fraction of a percentage point ending three days of decline after a sudden devaluation.

On Thursday, government officials said the yuan should remain strong in the long run. They say the move to devalue the currency came from a desire to implement market-oriented reforms and was not an effort to boost exports.


ZHANG XIAOHUI, ASSISTANT GOVERNOR, PEOPLE'S BANK OF CHINA (Through translator): When other elements in the economy and the accumulated discrepancy are corrected and judging from China's current account and the fact that have we always insisted on a prudent monetary policy, the yuan will be on the rise in the future.


CHURCH: And concern over China's economy is just one factor weighing on oil prices. They continued their slide on Thursday with the price of U.S. crude folding to a new six-year low.

The drop reflects the surplus of American oil, the devaluation of the Chinese yuan plus reports of higher Iranian oil production. CNN Money's Paul La Monica has more details.


PAUL LA MONICA, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Oil continues to plunge a new 6 and a half year low. At one point, below $42 a barrel. Many of the same factors are still at play here.

There are concerns about oversupply. OPEC continues to pump a lot of oil, particularly Saudi Arabia. Now, we're worried about Iran which has a lot of oil sitting there waiting to be exported having their oil going onto the market as well.

That would put more pressure on prices. At the same time, there's a shale gas explosion in the United States. Many companies still pumping a lot of oil from the U.S. So, you add all that up and there is definitely a supply glut, one the main reasons why we went from 100 a year ago all the way down to 42.

But the new wrinkle that has people more concerned, China. China's economy is a bit of a question mark right now. And if the Chinese economy is weakening a lot more than people thought, that will lead to lower demand for commodities like oil.

And you're already seeing other commodity prices tumbling too, copper, corn, wheat. So, it's not just oil. It's the demand part that's now a problem.


CHURCH: And again, that was CNN Money's Paul La Monica reporting. Well, nearly every U.S. presidential candidate is descending on Iowa these days. They are getting up close and personal with an estimated 1 million Iowans attending the annual state fair.

The event includes everything from animal competitions to midway games and fried food, lots of it in fact. It's a rite of passage for presidential contenders. This year, all eyes on outsiders Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.

They've grabbed more than 43 percent of support in the latest CNN poll of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers. Fiorina who got positive reviews in her first debate performance said Washington must be changed. Take a listen.


CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- of Washington, something that the political class really hasn't been willing to do for a long time. And I think that's why you see so many people saying, I don't care if you have been in politics all your life. What I care about is do you understand how to translate a good speech into real results.


CHURCH: And the question on the Democratic front, will Joe Biden run for president? Some supporters say the vice president is consulting political heavyweights about a possible 2016 bid. But little has been heard from the man himself. CNN's Michelle Kosinski reports.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden is calling close supporters and advisors this week, still considering jumping in the race for 2016.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): Hillary Clinton says she'll respect whatever decision Biden makes. Her supporters have sent some signals to think twice.

[00:25:00] HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR VERMONT: The problem is that Joe Biden is a very good guy and probably has no appeal whatsoever to people under 35.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): Do you think he's going to run?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I can't tell. But I'm worried that if he does and doesn't do well, that'll be hurtful to him and we all care about him deeply.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): Donald Trump is already treating him as an opponent with a slam.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I'd matchup great. I'm a job producer. I've had a great record. I haven't been involved in plagiarism. KOSINSKI (voice-over): A reference to Biden's issues back in law school, as well as during his 1988 campaign, accused of using someone else's line in a speech. Here's Jon Stewart recently.

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: The reason Loose Lips McGee fucked up his 2008 presidential run is now the reason he's a viable candidate?

KOSINSKI (voice-over): However, often Biden may make the funny headlines, his decades of experience, nearly 40 years as a well- respected senator, have garnered him plenty of supporters who would like him to go for it, maybe hit that middle ground of Democrats frustrated with Clinton's e-mail problems, but not liberal enough to back independent Bernie Sanders.

The latest CNN/ORC poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers places Biden third at 12 percent. If he doesn't run, Clinton benefits the most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do trust Hillary, but I trust Joe more.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): But for Biden, this is far more than political. His son Beau, who just died in May, had urged his father to take this chance and run with it. The 72-year-old has had to mull this over in the midst of grieving and working.

Now this week away from Washington of thinking and discussing could be his deciding factor.


CHURCH: Michelle Kosinski reporting there. The world's eyes are on Japan's prime minister. In just a few hours, Shinzo Abe will give a speech commemorating the end of World War II. While China and other Asian powers will be listening very closely. That's next.

Plus, forecasters say this year's El Nino may be the biggest on record and its impact could affect almost every part of the globe. We'll have that when we come back. Stay with us.


[00:30:27] CHURCH: A warm welcome back to you all. You're watching CNN. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour. The U.S. will formally open its embassy in Cuba today.

U.S. Marines will raise the American flag above the Diplomatic Center in Havana which has been closed for 54 years. Fidel Castro scolded the U.S. a day before the ceremony saying the country owes Cuba million because of a trade embargo.

U.S. officials say there are credible reports that ISIS used mustard gas in Iraq this week. The attack against Kurdish Peshmerga reportedly happened near Makhmour in Iraq making several people sick.

The U.S. believes ISIS most likely used either mortar or rocket shells to deliver the chemical agent. Terrifying new dash cam video appears to show the closest look yet at the explosions that rocked Tianjin in China Wednesday night. But what caused the blast that killed at least 50 people and left more than 500 others hospitalized is still unclear. A biochemical response team is currently on the ground in Tianjin.

Well, in just a few hours, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to deliver a statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. There's a lot of speculation about what he will say, especially after he pushed measures through parliament's lower house last month to allow Japan to send its military on overseas missions.

According to The Japan Times, Mr. Abe plans to include the words apology and aggression in today's speech. Previous Japanese leaders have apologized for Japan's wartime actions. China and South Korea have said these statements did not go far enough.

Well, 70 years ago, Kaname Harada was one of Japan's feared Zero fighter pilots. Now on the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he looks back at his experiences during World War II. He tells CNN the misery he saw then is fueling his desire to speak out for peace.


KANAME HARADA, FORMER ZERO FIGHTER PILOT (Through translator): My name is Kaname Harada. I turned 99 years old in August. I'm a former Zero pilot, an old soldier. When I chased enemy planes, they recognized that they are not supposed to fight against the Zeros.

A bullet like this was shot from the Zeros. When it hit the opponent, the plane disintegrated in mid air. The enemies look at me with despair and expressed with their hands to have some mercy.

But in war, if you let them go, they will attack us back. In the front line, only one side survives. So, there is absolutely no guilt, but the feeling of all right, I'm going to do my work. This is my last service to my country.

Pearl Harbor, we didn't know about it at first. We only knew that the U.S., the country with big powers, was taking the lead so that Japan wouldn't continue to last as an independent nation.

This I think was how the national emotion of American hatred was formed. And then the attack on Hawaii was going to happen, but when I read the details, I found out that I didn't have to go. I was ordered to remain and protect the Japanese fleet instead. It was very tough for me.

I was finally going to be able to hold my pride as a Zero fighter pilot. People were asking me, I heard you were going to Midway. If we conquer Midway, then the U.S. would not be able to attack us.

I was patrolling at night when a B-17 approached above me. And I was about to get attacked, so I escaped and floated on the sea for five hours. The fleet picked me up, but when I stepped onto the ship, there were many people with no hands, no legs.

People were crying, I'm suffering, I need water, mother. There was no space for me to put my feet since the ground was covered with severely injured people. Oh, this is what war is.

Nobody is there to take care of them. This is what hell is. I told the nurses and doctors, my body feels numb, but I'm not hurt. So, please look after those who are severely injured.

[00:35:02] They told me, you were on the front line, the severely injured ones are the last priority. This is war. At war, there is no such thing as human rights. Everybody is just a weapon.

We later heard about the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That big city Hiroshima turned into ruins. 140,000 people died in Nagasaki. What I want to say is that there is nothing more miserable than war in this world.

Everybody becomes unhappy. We should raise our voices and let the next generation become aware of this and ask them to maintain peace. This is the least I could do to atone for the bad feelings I have.


CHURCH: A significant call for peace there from a man who has seen so much war. Well, forecasters say this year's El Nino is "significant and strengthening". The warm water phenomenon in the Eastern Pacific Ocean dramatically impacts weather around the world.

Researchers say this time, Coastal South America could see more floods, and Australia will likely see drought. And to make more sense of what a strong El Nino is likely to look like, here's our Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. It's a real concern, isn't it?

But of course, Australia has seen drought and South America has seen a lot of flooding. So, how different will this be?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, impacts across the world in terms of weather and climate, Rosemary. But you really put it best. It is the warming of the Eastern Pacific waters.

The term El Nino was first coined by fishermen searching for their cold-water fish off the coast of South America, that being mackerel and well, the cold-water fishes just weren't appearing around the December and January timeframe.

And that is why they started to coincide the name El Nino which means directly translated from Spanish to English, the child. It just wasn't arriving like they would normally see it.

During a normal typical season, we have our trade winds that take that warm water and push that to the Western Pacific. But this has been far from an average season. Let me explain that warm water wedge, thanks to the strong trade winds.

Well, it starts to move eastward because the trade winds relax. They start to ease. In fact, sometimes, they even reverse in these strong El Nino situations taking this convection or also known as thunderstorms eastward with it.

And so, we would typically see, well, an increase in rainfall over the western portions of the United States, for instance. We'll get to that in just one moment. But we've got some pretty solid evidence that the strong El Nino is developing.

Anywhere you see that shading of red from the western-- the West Coast of South America all the way up the West Coast of U.S. that is above average ocean temperatures in the Pacific.

But again, we've been monitoring this phenomenon for several year, in fact since 1950. So, we actually need to compare it to the previous strong El Nino event which, if you recall, was back in 1997 into 1998 where water temperatures over the eastern Pacific spiked to 2.3 degrees Celsius, above where they normally should be.

That set all kinds of climatic weather patterns. We haven't seen this in quite some time. And the projection for 2015 actually supersedes that. We could easily experience water temperatures of around 2 1/2 to 3 degrees Celsius above where we should be.

And that obviously impacts the drought conditions in California. Take a look at this, Rosemary. We will need 50 percent more rainfall than their wettest season on average in California to counteract the deficits of that four-year drought that's ongoing. Back to you.

CHURCH: Wow, some impressive visuals there Derek Van Dam, many thanks to you. And as Derek mentioned, the strongest El Nino on record occurred in 1997 and '98. It brought devastating flash floods and mudslides to Southern California, parts of Latin America so torrential rains, entire villages in Peru were washed away.

Somalia and other parts of Eastern Africa were devastated by rain and flooding. Record drought hits Southeast Asia leading to huge forest fires in Indonesia and warm temperatures caused widespread coral bleaching to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Overall, the El Nino killed an estimated 23,000 people and caused as much as four $45 billion in damages.

The Rosetta space probe has sent us earthlings some dramatic pictures. And we will show you what happens when the sun warms the ice in a speeding comet. That story to come. We'd be back in a moment


[00:42:52] CHURCH: The space probe Rosetta has captured dramatic images of Comet 67P letting off a bit of steam. Take a look at this, water vapor and dust streaking out of the comet which on Thursday made its closest approach to the sun.

As the comet got closer to the sun, it got warmer, heating up the ice inside and making the vapor burst out in jets. The European Space Agency says the comet is blasting out the equivalent of two bathtubs of water vapor every second. Imagine that.

Well, Air New Zealand is getting attention for its latest quirky safety video. This time, Air New Zealand teams up with players and coaches from the country's hugely popular national rugby team, the All Blacks.

Players sing and dance in the air safety video in a spoof of the movie Men in Black. And this is just the latest. In a string of offbeat safety videos from the airline, you might recall Air New Zealand's spoof of The Hobbit.

It was a huge hit online, generating 14 million views on YouTube. And thanks for watching. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is next. You'll hear on CNN.