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Iraqis Fighting to Drive ISIS Out of Fallujah; ISIS Threat Looms over Libyan Refineries; Brazil Struggles with Political and Economic Crises; Questions over Gorilla's Shooting Death; Child Missing after Parents Leave Him on Mountain; 700+ Migrants Dead at Sea in Past Week; European Union Working to Boost Its Public Image; Landslides and Flooding in China. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 30, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, Iraqi forces close in on Fallujah.
Will a big-name candidate make a third-party run for the White House?
And a lot of questions about the killing of a gorilla after a young boy fell into a zoo exhibit.
CURNOW: Hi, there. Welcome, everyone. Happy Monday. I'm Robyn Curnow.
At this hour, we are tracking a major battle shaping up to drive ISIS from a key city in Iraq. The fight for Fallujah is entering a critical phase.
Iraqi troops, backed by militia, have circled the city and they're trying to pound their way in.
But tens of thousands of civilians may be trapped there. Our Fred Pleitgen has covered the region extensively and he joins us now from London.
Hi, there, Fred. Tell us about these military gains and the humanitarian concerns?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There certainly are a lot of concerns and I don't think anybody is under any sort of
illusion that this is going to be something that's going to be easy to do for the Iraqi security forces, also the forces supporting them, like for
instance those Shiite militia but also for the coalition, for instance, with U.S. warplanes apparently in on the action as well.
Now the latest that we're getting from the Iraqis they say that this offensive started in the early morning hours of today and they call this
phase three of their operation to try to retake Fallujah from ISIS.
Of course there were some heavy airstrikes in the run-up to all of this. There was also then the operations around Fallujah to try to take the
territory there. Those were called shaping operations, to try to shape the battlefield in a way to make it conducive for the Iraqi military to try to
enter into Fallujah.
Now that push has been going on since the early morning hours. Colonel Steve Warren, who's the spokesperson for the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq,
said that the operation was ongoing. Let's listen in to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. STEVE WARREN, ANTI-ISIS COALITION SPOKESPERSON: We don't know that they've actually breached the center of the city yet but that's certainly
their objective. We're seeing everything from Iraqi security forces, the regular army, to the police, to even their elite counterterror service, all
participating in this action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: The latest that we've gotten just a couple of minutes ago, Robyn, from the Iraqi security forces themselves, they say that so far
Iraqi troops have not managed to get into the actual city of Fallujah.
But they do say that they are on the outskirts and trying to push in. But, of course, that's just the first stage of this phase three of this
operation. They do expect that there will be heavy urban combat going on there with all the risks involved, especially, of course, for the many
civilians that are apparently still trapped in that city -- Robyn.
CURNOW: And as they move in to that scenario, many of these outlying villages have literally been tactically destroyed, they're flattened and
holding these areas as well as Fallujah, the Sunni areas, that will be challenging even as they move forward.
PLEITGEN: Even as they move forward. It's one of those typical things where holding them is going to be difficult but clearing them in the
initial stages is going to be very difficult as well.
This is a very densely populated area, very densely constructed area. They're inside Fallujah. We know that the U.S. with its very high combat
power had a lot of trouble in Fallujah in 2004, trying to clear that area of militants at that point in time.
And we've seen in the past, Robyn, also that, when ISIS was being pushed out of areas, that houses were booby-trapped, roads were booby-trapped,
there were roadside bombs, there were suicide bombings that were used as well.
And so therefore, the Iraqi security forces are preparing for what could be a very, very tough fight.
And then, of course, you have the fact that essentially at this point the time, the civilian population of Fallujah is being used as a human shield
by ISIS, who are hiding behind the population and then will try and conduct attacks from there. So certainly very difficult with a lot of civilians at
And you said absolutely correctly that a lot of the villages that were taken as this offensive was moving on, a lot of them have been absolutely
flattened in that fighting. And certainly that's a big risk as well.
CURNOW: Yes. Indeed, this is not over by any means.
And, of course, it's also a very patchwork mixture of military groups there trying to push forward.
Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.
Well, ISIS will need more than firepower to control territory. It needs income and political turmoil in Libya may help accomplish just that. Our
Nick Paton Walsh reports from an oil and gas refinery, where some fear a takeover.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A distant speck from up here. But this is Libya's shimmering prize. Oil worth
billions but part paralyzed by government infighting and, now, most troublingly, in ISIS' crosshairs.
This is the Mellitah refinery, which pumps gas direct --
WALSH (voice-over): -- along the Mediterranean sea bed to Italy. It's upped its defenses but one plant worker points out what he says is a
militant stronghold in a hotel just down the coast.
The seas, pretty much open here.
On this jetty, the graffiti says that God is great but you don't just want to rely on Him.
NATO have expressed concerns that ISIS is trying to get its hands on boats to perhaps fashion some sort of crude pirate navy. And in a place like
this so vital to Europe's energy, you can see how worrying that must be when you have this much shoreline to try to defend.
MOHAMMAD ARAB, SECURITY: The first is to have too many faces here. Sometimes it comes from the sea. Otherwise maybe it comes from the land.
You don't know how is it.
WALSH (voice-over): ISIS have already hit some facilities in the east. The damage in oil fires caused visible from space in these NASA images.
Their own propaganda shows a wider scope of ambition. This attack on an installation in the eastern town of Raslanouk (ph). They want to control
the industry and its potential billions, yet have so far mostly disrupted production and sown little panic in the U.S. presidential race.
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil and you know what?
We don't blockade. We don't bomb. We don't do anything about it.
WALSH (voice-over): Trump is wrong. ISIS haven't made much money yet and don't control any oil fields. But their attacks are costly to what's left
of the crumbling Libyan state, bringing closer the day ISIS could seize control of refineries and sell fuel on the black market. There already is
a thriving black market trade in Libya's oil.
These boats evidence of that, tankers anchored used to try and ship Libya's black gold and infrastructure here that ISIS could so easily use, were they
to get their hands on key refineries. Europe watching this slow collapse, just across the water -- Nick Paton Walsh, Mellitah, CNN, Libya.
CURNOW: In the race for the White House, there is renewed talk of a third- party candidate joining the race to take on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Now Trump is still generating headlines with new comments about
illegal immigrants. CNN Politics reporter Sara Murray brings us up to date.
TRUMP: We're going to rebuild our military and we're going to take care of our veterans.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump making the case to veterans at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, a tribute to
the armed forces.
TRUMP: Illegal immigrants are taking much care, really are taken much better care by this country than our veterans and that's not going to
MURRAY (voice-over): Trump insisting the undocumented immigrants he plans to deport are treated better than veterans and, after months of scrutiny,
also promising to explain where the $6 million he says he raised for veterans' charities went.
TRUMP: We're were announcing on Tuesday all of the groups that we put up this money and we raised this tremendous amount of money because we love
MURRAY (voice-over): This as the presumptive nominee is battling new efforts to derail his presidential campaign.
"Weekly Standard" editor Bill Kristol, teasing a possible independent opponent in a continued effort to stop Trump, tweeting, "There will be an
independent candidate, an impressive one, with a strong team and real chance."
Trump unleashing his anger in a series of tweets, calling Kristol "a dummy" and "an embarrassed loser," warning the Republican Party to unify behind
him if it wants to win in November.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: A third-party run by any candidate is a complete disaster and you're handing over the White House to
MURRAY (voice-over): The Libertarian Party also locking down their ticket, selecting two former Republican governors, New Mexico's Gary Johnson and
Massachusetts Bill Weld to challenge both parties' candidates, especially Trump.
GARY JOHNSON, U.S. LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Taking him on when he says that Mexicans are murderers and rapists, when in -- I mean it's
incendiary. Call him out on what is really racist. It's just racist.
MURRAY (voice-over): But for now, the Trump campaign is staying laser- focused on the Clintons.
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Trouble follows the Clintons everywhere. People are frustrated with all of the drama around the Clinton
family. If they're going to be back in the political milieu, then their history is relevant to what the American people can expect.
MURRAY: Now that Rolling Thunder event was an interesting venue for Donald Trump, it's really an event that's designed to honor military members who
were taken as prisoners of war or who are missing in action.
And this is really an area where Donald Trump has stirred up controversy. Last year he questioned whether John McCain is actually a war hero. Of
course, McCain was a POW. And Trump said he prefers people who weren't captured.
Now in spite of all of that, he still got a very warm reception over the weekend here in Washington --
MURRAY: -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.
CURNOW: Thanks to Sara for that report.
Ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK: a memorial for a gorilla killed in his enclosure after a standoff over a 4-year-old boy.
Should the gorilla have been shot?
And in Japan, a small boy is missing in woods populated by bears. The surprising reason his parents left him there. That's next.
CURNOW: Now to Brazil, where the dire political situation still hasn't changed even though there's a new leader.
After just a few weeks in office, public sentiment has already turned against the interim president and some are now calling for his dismissal.
Ivan Watson joins me now from Rio de Janeiro.
Hi, there, Ivan. All of this political turmoil ahead of the Olympics.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. About two months out until the start of the Olympic Games and the political
establishment here in Brazil is still very much reeling after the recent suspension in an impeachment process of the elected president, Dilma
Rousseff, and also amid a number of corruption investigations by prosecutors, by authorities here, that have implicated some top figures in
the private sector as well as the highest levels of the Brazilian government.
WATSON (voice-over): When the honor guard arrives to greet foreign diplomats at the presidential palace, so do the protesters, demanding the
resignation of the brand-new interim president, Michel Temer. Brazil faces political crisis during a time of great economic pain.
PAULO KRAMER, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: This is the, the worst economic crisis Brazil has ever had since the early '30s, last century, the Great
WATSON (voice-over): A fresh scandal this month forced a top cabinet minister to announce his resignation, barely 11 days after assuming office,
embarrassed after audio recordings emerged of him, purportedly colluding to stop a major corruption investigation.
And the irony: this is one of the politicians who spearheaded the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff, forcing her to step
down earlier this month for allegedly breaking budgetary laws, which she denies.
More than two-thirds of the Congress here voted in favor of an impeachment process of the elected Brazilian president. But many of these lawmakers
are themselves implicated in a variety --
WATSON (voice-over): -- of corruption scandals.
Political analysts say the scale of the alleged corruption here is mind- boggling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost 60 percent of the chamber of deputies are being investigated in some stage of criminal investigations.
WATSON: 60 percent?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 60 percent, yes.
WATSON (voice-over): That's a view echoed even by some lawmakers. Like Eduardo Bolcinado (ph).
WATSON: So you think there is a lot of corruption in this room?
EDUARDO BOLCINADO (PH), BRAZILIAN LAWMAKER: I don't think. I'm sure.
WATSON (voice-over): Part of the problem is, it's tough to govern here when there are dozens of political parties are represented in the Brazilian
Congress. There's even a professional clown.
WATSON (voice-over): A comedian, who was applauded when he cast his vote for the impeachment of President Rousseff.
Polls show she had nearly single-digit popularity ratings when she was suspended but so does the legislature that suspended her.
WATSON: People don't respect you?
BOLCINADO (PH): No.
Like, yes, they don't respect -- we don't have too much credibility together with the society.
WATSON (voice-over): And it hasn't helped politicians' credibility that several ministers in the new interim government also appear to be under
investigation for alleged wrongdoing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's the political class we have right now. We can't go to the supermarket and buy a new one, unfortunately.
WATSON (voice-over): The changing of the political guard in this country is still very, very complicated.
WATSON: Robyn, political analysts say here that the biggest priority, the most urgent priority for the interim government is to come up with an
economic plan to help deal with this crippling recession.
The economy's been shrinking for three years. You've got around 11 million people that are unemployed right now.
But it's hard to make plans, especially with these corruption investigations which keep growing. They're kind of unprecedented for
Brazil because nobody knows who is going to be netted in the investigation next and who -- nobody knows which minister or top official could be
brought down by the investigation next.
It makes it very difficult to plan -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. So much uncertainty. Thank you so much. Ivan Watson there in Rio. Appreciate it.
Well, now to a dramatic and deadly rescue.
How did a young boy get into a gorilla enclosure at the zoo?
What more could the zoo have done to protect the boy and the gorilla?
There are just so many questions, as Jessica Schneider now reports.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day of panic and desperation at the Cincinnati Zoo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeking a second run (ph) to the Cincinnati Zoo. And this is in a gorilla cage and a 3-year-old child has fallen into the
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): A 4-year-old boy slips into the zoo's gorilla habitat and over a moat wall. Suddenly Harambe, a 17-year-old, 400-pound
gorilla approaches the boy. His mother watches in horror at what happens next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy is right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
OK. Everybody back up. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy loves you. I'm right here.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The young boy screams and the urgent calls to 9-1- 1 can be heard on this bystander video.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my son fell in the zoo.
MURRAY (voice-over): Harambe drags the boy around the moat and up a ladder for a total of 10 minutes as the zoo's dangerous animal response team
anxiously decides what to do next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The little boy himself had already been talking about wanting to go in, go in, get in the water and his mother is like, no,
you're not; no, you're not.
I don't know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge. If he thought we were coming in. But then he, you know, pulled the
boy down further away from the big group.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Engine 32.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). The gorilla has a child. And it dragged him around the pen.
MURRAY (voice-over): Officials considered the incident very threatening, deciding Harambe must be taken down immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason that tranquilizing was not chosen is, in an agitated situation, which the male was, it may take quite a while for a
tranquilizer to take effect.
But certainly the instant he would be hit he would have a dramatic response. You don't hit him and he falls over. It would take a few
The child wasn't under attack but all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that. So he certainly was at risk.
MURRAY (voice-over): They say their only option: a rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Get the kids out of here.
MURRAY (voice-over): Harambe was shot and killed. The child was taken to Cincinnati Children's --
MURRAY (voice-over): -- Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have rescued the child. Disregard, everybody. (INAUDIBLE) have been notified for a trauma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a sad day all the way around. The right choice was made. It was a difficult choice.
MURRAY (voice-over): Harambe was a Western Lowlands gorilla, a critically endangered species. The zoo had hoped he would eventually father other
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love the zoo. It's very friendly and everything is beautiful here.
But when you see something like that and then you have a disappointment because how do -- what do you say to your grandchildren?
CURNOW: Very hard to watch those images.
Jessica is outside the Cincinnati Zoo. She joins us live.
Hi, there. I understand the family's issued a statement but it hasn't -- they haven't really answered the questions we're all trying to, you know,
answer is, how did that kid get down there?
MURRAY: Yes. Not answering that question for sure in the statement. All they're saying in the statement is that the child is safe and they are
However, zoo officials have tried to answer that question. The zoo official, the zoo director actually said yesterday that the 4-year-old boy
went under a rail, went through some protective wiring, actually climbed down the moat wall and then dropped 15 feet down into the water below,
where visitors then heard a splash.
And then the rescue effort commenced. But it was 10 tense minutes where the gorilla was tossing that boy around. So no answers from the family.
They're refusing any interviews. But zoo officials have given some details about how that child might have gotten down there.
CURNOW: Yes, a 15-foot wall. Takes a lot for a 4-year old to get into that enclosure. A lot of people seem to be outraged at the parents here, a
lot of the anger generated towards them, protests even.
MURRAY: Yes. We've seen a few people out here with signs, "Justice for Harambe." There's a vigil scheduled in just about an hour and a half.
And, in addition, there's an on-line petition circulating that, as of this morning, already had garnered more than 20,000 signatures.
People are calling for the parents of this child to be criminally charged for their alleged negligence. But we talked to the spokesman for the
Cincinnati Police. He said he's not aware of any charges at this time.
But, of course, they could eventually be forthcoming. But nothing yet -- Robyn.
CURNOW: So who becomes legally responsible here?
I mean I know there's something called attractive nuisance, it's a legal term to deal with kids perhaps banging against exhibits and stuff.
But how do you think this is going to play out?
Do you think there's some possibility of a court case here in terms of negligence?
Parents or the zoo?
MURRAY: There definitely is a chance of lawsuits or criminal charges here but this is actually a tough one because the zoo has said that they opened
this gorilla world exhibit back in 1978.
And in all of those years, the guards have never been breached. No other child has ever gotten down there. And from the sounds of it, the zoo
director says that this child went through great lengths to get down there. So it's uncertain whether or not the parents could sue the zoo.
Of course the zoo could even sue the parents for trespass and the parents could face criminal charges as well for negligence or reckless endangerment
of a child.
Thanks so much, Jessica, appreciate it.
Terrifying story for any parent watching that. Appreciate it.
I want you to just take a listen as to what an animal expert has to say about the prospect of a gorilla attacking a child. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL EXPERT: It's hard to get in the mind of this incredible primate, Harambe. Gorillas, as we know, as with all the great
apes, are incredibly intelligent.
But was he looking at this child as another primate to protect?
Or was he looking at it as just a rag doll?
It's really hard to say.
I will tell you this: Harambe weighed 400 pounds. It was exponentially stronger than this child. And if it had wanted to it could have instantly
dispatched this child.
Now who's to say how this situation would have resulted in the end?
We have seen great examples of altruism. We've seen when gorillas have actually rescued children that have fallen in their enclosure. We've also
seen worst-case scenarios unfold when human primates connect with other primates like gorillas and chimpanzees, we've seen that in Connecticut.
So I think that this zoo felt that they were sort of almost at that point of no return.
But the truth is, here is who was not at fault. It was the gorilla. The gorilla didn't escape. It wasn't running King Kong through the city of
Cincinnati. It wasn't being aggressive. It was just kind of hanging out.
A terrible, terrible, tragic situation. I think there are many questions to ask and, you know, I think the zoo has questions to ask.
But I think the public has a question they need to ask themselves. When you go to a zoo -- and I'm not saying --
CORWIN: -- this is the case for this family.
But when you go to the zoo, the zoo is not your babysitter. OK. Put down the selfie stick, refrain from the texting. Be a part of that family
experience and watch your kids.
I have seen so many crazy things happen at zoos. I've seen people put their children up on railings, knowing that there's a predatory animal
beneath, just to get that photo.
I've seen people stick their hands into cages. I've seen actually people pick up animals. Common sense is a powerful tool when you're working with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Yes, he makes some good points there, doesn't he?
And also, as Jeff Corwin mentions, other incidents involving gorillas and children at zoos in the U.K. and in Chicago have actually resulted in the
primate helping and protecting the child.
Moving on to Northern Australia now, where a woman is missing and feared dead after she was attacked by a crocodile. The search is still ongoing.
The attack happened as she was swimming with a friend on a remote beach Sunday. They entered the water late at night, despite numerous signs of
warnings of crocodiles.
A lawmaker called it "an unavoidable tragedy" and said, quote, "you can't legislate against human stupidity."
In Japan, concerns, too, for a young boy alone on a mountain. He hasn't been found since his parents left him alone, apparently to punish him.
Kristie Lu Stout has this story.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On the ground, in the air -- more than 150 people are searching for Yamato Tano-oka. The 7-year-old boy
went missing on Saturday afternoon. His parents called the police after, according to authorities, an attempt to discipline their son went horribly
Police say the family had gone on a day trip to pick wild vegetables but Yamato's parents said he misbehaved by throwing stones at passing cars and
people. On their way home, police say Yamato's parents decided to leave him alone for a short time in the mountains as way to punish him for being
But when they went back to get him, he was nowhere in sight. Two hours later, the parents called police, his father suggesting in an interview
with local TV that they hesitated to report the boy missing because of the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.
More than two days later, the search is still on and concern increases. Temperatures in this part of Japan dip into the single digits at night and
the area is known to be home to wild bears -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.
CURNOW: Still ahead, you're watching CNN, the flight to a better life provides deadly potentially for hundreds of people. We'll update you on a
dangerous week on the Mediterranean.
CURNOW: Hi, there, welcome to INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.
CURNOW: As many as 700 migrants are feared dead, victims of the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. They're unaccounted for after three
separate sinkings this past week alone.
The Italian navy and coast guard have been working to keep up with the influx of people trying to reach Europe. CNN's senior international
correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me now from Rome.
Hi, there, Ben. This is just the sea crossing, really, it's just the last in a very traumatic and long journey these people make.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean it really is the last step before they in theory get to Europe.
Many of these people, their families have raised money to pay for them to leave their countries, whether it's Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Eritrea,
Gambia. They come from so many places in sub-Saharan Africa, they have to cross the Sahara Desert, where there's a whole different network of human
traffickers that are as equally unscrupulous as those who are operating on the Libyan coast.
Now when they get to the Libyan coast, many of these migrants, they are robbed, some of the women are pressed into prostitution, others are raped
and otherwise sexually abused.
Many of the men end up basically working as slave laborers, trying to make enough money to pay for the passage across the Mediterranean, which can
cost anything from 400 to well over 1,000 euro.
Of course, when I say crossing, I should qualify that term because the boats these people are put on, and oftentimes they're put on at gunpoint
because when they see these vessels, they don't want to get in them, they see they're not seaworthy, they are just seaworthy enough to get outside of
Libyan territorial waters, where they will send a distress signal out that will -- whether it's the Italian navy, the coast guard, other vessels in
the area, will respond, as they must under maritime law, to pick them up.
But, as I said, this sea journey is really the last step in a long, difficult nightmare for many of these people -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. And you can see, just by the pictures we were playing while you were on air, I mean many of these boats tip over like a toy, a plastic
toy in a bathtub.
Who is on these boats?
You talk about people from sub-Saharan Africa, I know there are a lot of unaccompanied adolescents.
Is it primarily people coming from Africa and not Syria?
WEDEMAN: No. Until now, what we've seen, certainly over the last year, is that most of the migrants and refugees crossing from Libya come from sub-
Saharan Africa. We've spoken with Syrians and Iraqis, but many who have crossed made that crossing as well.
But many of them were living in Libya already for reasons unrelated to the situation there at the moment.
So, yes, most from sub-Saharan Africa. And we understand from officials here in Italy as well as in Libya that there are hundreds of thousands of
people waiting to cross.
Now it -- there's been some speculation that once -- when that E.U.-Turkey agreement went into effect in March, that many of the Syrian refugees, 2.7
million in Turkey, would try to get to Libya and try the cross- Mediterranean route.
But we haven't seen that until now. And significantly, in fact, the numbers making the crossing this year, it's about 41,000, give or take a
few thousand. is roughly the same as what we saw last year.
But I think obviously the --
WEDEMAN: -- pace is going to pick up now that the seas are calmer although it's worth noting that, today and yesterday, there have been no rescue
attempts because the seas are rough. So it's really highly dependent on the weather -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Thanks so much, Ben Wedeman there in Rome.
Well, immigration and its impact on Britain will be a deciding factor when people vote in an upcoming referendum. Britain's decision on whether to
stay in the European Union is less than a month away. As that date approaches, the E.U. is working to address its image problem. Our Erin
McLaughlin tells us how from Brussels.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Europe -- the European parliament, that is, a performance meant to entertain and to
educate one of many activities across the European capital.
MCLAUGHLIN: E.U. leaders say they realize they have an image problem. Many of their citizens simply don't know how the politics work. So once a
year they open it up to the general public.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I think there is a huge distance between citizens and the various institutions.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand how European politics work?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not really. No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When people don't know how it works, they don't understand why it's important.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Officials say lack of understanding is a threat to the union's very existence. They are worried about the rise of
eurosceptic far right parties across the continent and, of course, the looming British referendum on E.U. membership.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Europe deserve its own superhero?
I think so.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that a lack of understanding of E.U. institutions is sort of fueling that debate in the U.K.?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, absolutely. I think there is huge amount of ignorance about the European institutions and about what they do.
MCLAUGHLIN: This is the room where 28 heads of state or government meet to decide on critical issues from the economy to foreign policy. With the
U.K. referendum, the question now, will the U.K. give up its seat at this table?
Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.
CURNOW: Still ahead here at CNN, this planet is about to get as close to Earth as it will for 11 years. What that means and what we'll be able to
see -- when we come back.
CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN.
Floods have overwhelmed parts of Germany after heavy rains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): This is the scene after rivers overflowed within a very short period of time. Roads are flooded and filled with debris; at
least three people were reportedly killed, including a fireman trying to rescue someone.
Now some video from Southeast China really got our attention. Take a look at this. It was taken on a mobile phone as a hillside --
CURNOW (voice-over): -- gave way. The landslide was triggered by heavy rains, which have also caused deadly floods. State TV reports a minivan
and motorcycle were riding past this mountain as trees and huge rocks tumbled down. Luckily, no one was hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Now you may not be able to reach out and touch it but Earth's neighbor is about to swing by. Mars will make its closest approach to
Earth for 11 years. Chad Myers joins us now with the details.
Tell us all about this.
Hi, there, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, there, Robyn. Unlike the moon that stays the same distance so it stays the same size because of its orbit,
Mars and Earth are orbiting at different speeds and different places in the 3D sky out there. So let me give you an idea of what's about to happen in
about seven hours.
Mars is going to get as close as its been in as many years and as close as it will be for the next couple years here. So as because the orbits are
different around the sun, all of a sudden tonight we are going to get as close as these two planets can get here.
From Mars to the Earth, we'll still be millions and millions of miles away, I get that. But this is actually going to look very big in the sky. And
you should be able to tell with the naked eye that the planet is red.
This will be the closest we're going to get for quite some time, for a couple years. But the deal is that tonight you'll be able to see it if you
look to the south-southeast somewhere around midnight. It will be much bigger than usual but nowhere near the size of like the moon. We're not
close. It's still going to look like a star.
But look to the south-southeast tonight and it should be fairly bright, bright as it will be for while and pretty cool view when you can actually
tell that it is red in the sky with the naked eye. The binoculars or telescope will certainly do it justice as well -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Brilliant. Thanks so much, Chad, there.
Well, now to a dramatic rescue in Central China after a man became trapped in an escalator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): This was the scene Sunday outside a supermarket. The repairmen failed to disconnect the power before working on the store's
escalator; when he removed a panel, he was sucked inside and he suffered extensive injuries.
Local media reports he was rushed to the hospital and was in intensive care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Good luck to him.
That does it for us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Don't go anywhere. "WORLD SPORT" is next.