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Pakistan Tanker Explosion; China Landslide; Israel Steps Up Involvement in Syria; Russia Investigation. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired June 25, 2017 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A breaking story we're following in Pakistan. More than 100 people have been killed and dozens more injured after an oil tanker explodes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): "We're tracking all of the factions," the battalion commander tells me. "We know how to differentiate and separate them. There's a contingency for each threat."

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): What Israel sees. We're at the frontlines with Israeli soldiers as they peer into Syria.

HOWELL (voice-over): And no public appearances for the U.S. president Saturday but that didn't stop him from weighing in on Twitter. We'll have the latest on the Russia investigation and the U.S. health care debate.

It's 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. We welcome our viewers here the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: We begin with a deadly explosion in Eastern Pakistan. At least 120 people are dead. Dozens more injured after an oil tanker exploded in the city of Bahawalpur Sunday morning.

HOWELL: The tanker left the road following an accident and then villagers gathered to collect the oil and that's when the truck exploded. An emergency has been declared in the city as well as nearby towns.

ALLEN: CNN producer Sophia Saifi joins me now from Karachi, Pakistan, with the latest on the situation there.

Hello, Sophia.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, Natalie, well, it's a very horrific situation. It was supposed to be a time of celebration, it's the last day of Ramadan here in Pakistan. Tomorrow is a massive merchant festival of Eid. There was a public holiday declared for the rest of the week and this was not supposed to be a time of such tragedy across the country.

What we do know is that at 6:30 this morning, an oil tanker was traveling from the city of Karachi to Lahore and it collided with another vehicle and then fell off the road into the nearly field.

This is where villagers from nearby came on their bikes, carrying pots, pans, jerry cans, and container they could find and started carrying as much as fuel they could in these containers.

And 10 minutes after they arrived, according to a police spokesman, that's when the explosion happened. There's over 100 injuries. We have a death toll of 120. There's a medical emergency across the province in that region and then in other country as well because helicopters are taking them from one place to the next.

So we're seeing this medical emergency unfolding with numbers expected to rise.

ALLEN: We can tell from the video that it was a very horrific fire explosion that happened there. And there's no hospitals in that immediate area which had burn centers.

So where are these people being taken?

SAIFI: Well, this is a matter of great concern. There are no burn centers. There's no proper facilities where you have got the military sending out helicopters to transport the victims to the province which is across the border and other cities as well and other major hospitals.

The chief minister's office has also sent in her helicopters to lift these victims from this area to cities which are also in the province of Punjab which are nearby. Hospitals are on high alert. There are numbers expected to rise.

And there's a lot of growing anger against the way it's being managed because when I spoke to various police officials, many were reluctant to share numbers but there's a consistent share of graphic photographs, images that are very haunting, being shared on social media, being shared on mobiles.

And there's a lot of anger on social media and on the ground here right now at the government as to how this is being managed -- Natalie.

ALLEN: We can understand that is supposed to be a day of celebration and what a horror. Sophia Saifi for us there, in Karachi, thank you.

HOWELL: Now to China, authorities there say the outlook is grim after a landslide that happened Saturday. At least 24 bodies have been recovered so far. More than 100 people are still missing there. This disaster struck a village in the Sichuan province and buried

dozens of homes there. State media report a couple and their baby made it out of the rubble alive but a local official admits it's unlikely that more survivors will be found.

CNN's Matt Rivers is following the story live in Shanghai this hour.

It's good to have you with us, Matt. First of all, we're hearing from officials. They're a lot less optimistic about the possibility of finding survivors.

What are they --


HOWELL: -- saying about this recovery operation as it stands now?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's the main sentiment you're getting from government officials at this point, due to a number of different circumstances, not the least of which being that we are now some 30-plus hours on after this happened, really nearing 40 hours at this point, that there really is slimming chances of finding people alive.

And if they did find someone, it would be quite a miracle. Now there are some conflicting reports as to exactly how many bodies have been recovered from the rubble at this point.

The latest reporting from state media that CNN has been relying on here is that 24 bodies have been recovered from the rubble. But that number is expected to be very fluid and could go much, much higher, as 109 people remain unaccounted for at this point.

The numbers have been changing slightly so we can expect the numbers to not stay the same, especially as the hours go on and rescue workers continue their very grim work.

There's over 2,500 rescue workers on scene there. They have 150 different machines, specialized equipment. There's some search and rescue dogs there as well. So they're doing their very best in what is extremely challenging conditions.

You can see from the pictures just how expansive this landslide was and there's a number of different challenges facing rescuers, something the government has been forthright about. Let's show you a little bit of sound from the vice governor of the province talking about that.


GAN LIN, VICE GOVERNOR, SICHUAN PROVINCE (through translator): According to the geologists who have participated in the rescue operations, the chances of the missing persons surviving a landslide from such a height are small particularly because the landslide site is so narrow that large-scale search operations are hard to conduct in the area. In addition, the rescuers cannot dig too deep so as to avoid

triggering a new collapse of the rocks. However, despite all these adverse factors, we will spare no effort and regard saving people's lives as our top priority.


RIVERS: As far as sparing no effort, we don't doubt that. But they face a litany of challenges, not the least of which that sundown is coming in a few hours and it's expected to rain there over the next couple of days.

So they have very difficult conditions with which to do their grim task of trying to find anyone alive. But more than likely just recovering the bodies of those that were buried.

As far as the cause here, what government researchers are saying is that this could very likely be tied back to the massive earthquake that happened in Sichuan province in May of 2008 that killed tens of thousands of people and, in the process, loosened the structure of these mountains in this area.

Heavy rainfall over the last couple of days likely combined with that structure loosening, likely led to the deadly landslide.

HOWELL: Matt Rivers on this story and of course we'll have our on Derek Van Dam tell us more about what Matt was explaining, how the land was destabilized, given the previous earthquake. But, Matt, thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

ALLEN: It's been one week since the U.S.S. Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine cargo ship and many questions still remain, including why the Fitzgerald crew didn't see the other vessel coming.

HOWELL: That cargo ship was much larger than the Fitzgerald and nearly three times as heavy. CNN's Ryan Browne has the very latest for us on this investigation.


RYAN BROWNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Navy investigators are starting to learn some new details about the collision between a cargo ship and the U.S.S. Fitzgerald that cost the lives of seven U.S. Navy sailors.

This investigation is ongoing in additions to investigations by the U.S. Coast Guard and Japanese authorities. But some of the initial details are beginning to emerge, such as where the collision took place, on the starboard side of the Fitzgerald, impacting directly in the sleeping quarters, the berthing areas aboard that ship, as well as hitting the communications node, forcing U.S. sailors aboard the Fitzgerald to use satellite cell phones in order to communicate with their higher headquarters as they attempted to keep the ship afloat immediately after the collision.

Now investigators are most interested in finding out how this collision could have taken place without any of the crew aboard the Fitzgerald being able to detect the incoming cargo ship and avoid the collision.

They are going to review radar data from the sophisticated Aegis weapons system aboard the Fitzgerald as well as other data and information from the cargo ship in an effort to find out exactly how such a tragedy could have taken place that cost the lives of seven U.S. Navy sailors. Back to you.


ALLEN: Syria state-run news reports several people were killed Saturday by Israeli airstrikes near the country's disputed border in the Golan Heights. The Israeli military says it was in response to projectiles fired into Israel --


ALLEN: -- from Syria.

HOWELL: In the meantime, Israel has stepped up its involvement in Syria's civil war in recent months. The two countries share a border. More than 60 kilometers long, that's about 38 miles. CNN's Ian Lee spent a night with an Israeli intelligence unit as they deployed to that disputed area.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight's mission uses the cover of darkness, soldiers concealed their faces. We're joining an Israeli unit gathering intelligence on the neighboring civil war. The final orders from the commander, work quickly and quietly. We'll be tens of meters from Syria.

Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967. The two states clashed again six years later, in a massive tank battle. That was conventional warfare. Today, advanced Israeli units patrol the frontier, watching the regime rebels and ISIS on this vast, unconventional battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat is very serious because they are always fighting between them and they can always aim their weapon right here.

LEE (voice-over): Earlier in the day, we witnessed such clashes, automatic gunfire in the nearby Syrian village, fighting occasionally spills over. Last November, ISIS attacked an Israeli patrol. A tank silenced the terror group's guns.

The blazing moon illuminates the countryside and us, soldiers secure the perimeter before beginning their mission.

We're a few hundred meters from the secured defense right now, just behind me. If you listen closely, you can hear dogs barking, vehicles moving around and I'm told you can also hear a tank.

A rebel tank idles roughly a kilometer away. The night scope reveals the crew, unaware they're being watched, smoking a last cigarette before bed. "We're tracking all of the factions," the battalion commander tells me. "We know how to differentiate and separate them. There's a contingency for each threat."

Over the past years, intelligence units witnessed attacks, regime movements and rebels training. One group in particular gets special attention.

"Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria threaten the state of Israeli," the commander says. "We're prepared to deal with this enemy. We know their tactics."

The unit finishes camouflaging the position. We leave. Their watch has just begun. One hour down, 59 to go -- Ian Lee, CNN, in the Golan Heights.


HOWELL: Ian Lee, thank you for the report.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, the U.S. president is trying to shift the Russian investigation away from himself. Next, why he is pointing the finger to the man that held the job before him. Stay with us.






ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to shift the Russia investigation away from himself and onto the former president, Barack Obama. Mr. Trump's reacting to "The Washington Post" story that details how and when Mr. Obama first learned that Russia tried to sway last year's election in favor of Mr. Trump.

HOWELL: That report also details how Mr. Obama and his advisers wrestle with various options for retaliation. Our Athena Jones has more for us.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president has been responding to "The Washington Post" report for the last couple of days now. It started Friday night, when he sent out a tweet that seemed to acknowledge that he accepted the conclusion that U.S. intelligence agencies reached months ago, that Russia meddled in the election.

This after months of calling the Russian meddling story "a hoax" and a "phony." Now it's certainly possible that the president was just responding to "The Washington Post" report, not making a definitive statement about own beliefs about the election.

But it was noteworthy. He continued his responses to that story on Saturday, with a couple more tweets. I'll read them to you; you can put them up on the screen.

He said, "Since the Obama administration was told way before the 2016 election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T," Trump.

Another tweet, "The Obama administration official said they choked when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn't want to hurt Hillary?"

That second tweet a direct reference to a quote included in "The Washington Post" article. So it's clear the president very much focused on this story and wanting to shift the blame to his predecessor and away from himself.

I should mention that he followed up those two tweets by talking about the health care bill pending before the Senate, putting pressure on Republicans to vote for the bill, since it is of course Republicans who are standing in the way of it.

But it's still very, very clear that the issue of Russian meddling remains top of mind for the president. We will have to see what he tweets today.


HOWELL: All right. That from Athena Jones earlier. Thank you, Athena.

ALLEN: A disturbing trend has emerged lately in the Trump White House: unprecedented restrictions on the news media that effectively shut out the public from the daily White House news briefings.

HOWELL: More and more those briefings are being held off camera, sometimes even the audio is delayed. On Friday, CNN pushed back by bringing in a sketch artist.

ALLEN: Our media reporter, Brian Stelter, explains why the White House is doing this and why it is a mistake.


BRIAN STELTER, CNNMONEY SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The banner on the bottom of the screen here sometimes says "White House in crisis," it very much is. But when you think about the Russia investigations, the Trump aides, like Jared Kushner, who have been under scrutiny, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, but the White House wants us and wants --


STELTER: -- the American people paying attention to events like yesterday's V.A. signing of new legislation intended to improve the V.A. It wants to focus only on that and not on all these other stories.

I believe that they're making a mistake by turning the cameras off, by requiring these events to be off camera. But I think in the minds of Sean Spicer and his aides, if you have President Trump being the only person speaking on camera during the day, it puts the focus more on his agenda, on his accomplishments.

This is a very interesting and very tense situation.


HOWELL: That was CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, speaking with my colleague, Ana Cabrera.

ALLEN: Leslie Vinjamuri joins us now from London. She teaches international relations at SOAS University of London. And if you watch this often you know that now because she's a frequent guest.

And, Leslie, thank you again for joining us.


ALLEN: With "The Washington Post" report about the Obama administration being informed by the CIA of Russian meddling, we know that the Obama administration was conflicted on how to act and, as we just saw in Athena Jones' story, Trump tweeted this among other tweets.

"Obama administration officials said they choked when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn't want to hurt Hillary?"

As I understand "The Washington Post" report they were concerned, the Obama administration, that perhaps it would look like they were helping Hillary.

VINJAMURI: That's right. We have to remember how intensely politicized the U.S. presidential campaign was at that point, how higher partisan the entire climate was, not only in Washington but well beyond.

So President Obama -- and this was detailed very well in "The Washington Post" report -- was very concerned that, to the extent he would make a statement, that he would speak out against this, that it needed to be bipartisan.

So he worked very hard to try to develop a bipartisan commitment and he failed to get that and so he was very reluctant I think to speak out and make it look like he was trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

The idea that the allegations of meddling could actually come back on the presidency, you can understand why that might have been the case. So it was a very toxic environment and very difficult to know how to respond to the information. It's very easy to look back now and have a sense that more should have

been said. But one can see how if you look even right now at Donald Trump's reactions, rather again than focusing on the major question, which is about Russia's meddling and disinformation campaign, it's once again becoming a partisan issue.

He's looking back to the last president to cast blame and to deflect attention that not only on the question of Russia but on his own role.

So in August, when President Obama first became aware of this, when the first CIA report came out, his instincts were to tread very carefully and look for a bipartisan commitment and to be sure that the intelligence agencies were united in their sense of what was going on. And that wasn't initially the case.

ALLEN: The special prosecutor, Mueller, he -- he -- President Trump is making the case that Mueller and James Comey, the fired FBI director, are friends. They're more like acquaintances; apparently not close buddies.

But does that taint Mueller's investigation? Just the appearance that they know each other and perhaps run in the same professional circles in Washington.

VINJAMURI: Well, it's difficult to imagine appointing a special council -- this is one of the most serious appointments that's been made -- who wasn't aware of who the FBI director is. These are professionals that work in intelligence with similar expertise.

But to suggest that these aren't deeply serious people, I think Mueller has got incredible support from across the aisle. He is seen as a very, very serious, credible person.

So -- but, again, Donald Trump is trying to look in the wrong direction, to suggest that people might not be taking their roles very seriously. I don't think he's going to get very far with question marks about whether he would actually dismiss Mueller.

Seems extremely unlikely that this step would be taken and it would make the allegations of obstruction of justice look much more credible. And I think it would cast too much dispersion (sic) on the presidency.

ALLEN: Let's talk about the other issue; we just had a report on starting to cast shadows over the White House, with the media not able to air these briefings live and let the American people see how the president's spokespeople speak on his behalf with so many important issues.

It's almost like, what is the White House afraid of?

VINJAMURI: Yes. I think the White House right now, certainly the president and those around him, are very concerned about safeguarding the message. And given that Donald Trump is using the Twitter feed in an erratic way, I think there's a grave concern for being sure that they can manage the message. But of course it's deeply problematic not being able to --


VINJAMURI: -- listen to -- the public, listening to this live and not being able to ask the right questions and not having the level of scrutiny and debate, which is absolutely essential to American democracy.

And again, it's going to raise a series of questions about the ethics surrounding the office, freedom of press, the extent to which the president takes the process of democracy seriously. So it's very worrying.

ALLEN: "The Washington Post" has the banner, "Democracy dies in darkness." So this is a big issue.

VINJAMURI: It is a big issue.

ALLEN: We thank you, Leslie Vinjamuri for us, see you again.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

HOWELL: It's a big issue we'll continue to fight.

ALLEN: Absolutely.

Well, a major political battle over health care is brewing in the U.S. Senate. Next, you'll hear from three doctors about what they think about the latest plan to replace ObamaCare.

HOWELL: Plus Russia's big investment in cyber warfare and what it means for the U.S. and it's allies.

We're live in the United States and around the world at this hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN. It's good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. The headlines this hour:


ALLEN: We'll look again at the major political battle on health care brewing here in the United States. Repealing and replacing ObamaCare was a major campaign promise of President Donald Trump. He hasn't been able to do it yet.

HOWELL: That's right, a big story and certainly a big push for legislators at this point but the Senate legislation on health care may not have enough support to move forward. Five Republican senators say they won't vote for the bill in its current form.

Mr. Trump took to Twitter and said the following, quote, "I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer."

ALLEN: As expected, independent senator Bernie Sanders is harshly criticizing this new bill.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT.: Let me be as clear as I can be, this so-called health care bill passed in the House last month is the most anti-working class piece of legislation passed by the House of Representatives in the modern history of this country.


SANDERS: And the Senate bill, in some respects, is even worse.


ALLEN: Critics say the health care Senate bill will benefit the rich and the young while hurting the poor and the old.

HOWELL: Few people understand health care more than the doctors who see how it affects the patients they deal with on a daily basis.

ALLEN: Martin Savidge spoke with three physicians about what they think about ObamaCare and this new plan to replace it. Here it is.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kitsap County, Washington state, an hour's drive west of Seattle.

Like anywhere in America, a place where people need health care and a way to pay for it.

Kristan Guenterberg is a surgeon; Peter Lehmann, a primary physician; Niran Al-Agba, pediatrician; different doctors, different politics.


SAVIDGE (on camera): The Libertarian.

LEHMANN: The Libertarian candidate.

DR. NIRAN AL-AGBA, PEDIATRICIAN: I voted for Donald Trump.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): You might think there's little they agree on. Wrong. They all believe the current health care system is unsustainable.

LEHMANN: Can I say it's broken?

SAVIDGE (on camera): Yes.

LEHMANN: I say it's unequivocally broken.


LEHMANN: Ask any patient.

Do you think it's a system that serves their needs and that they're happy with?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Under programs dominated by health insurers, they say doctors are stressed to see more and more patients to make ends meet. Patients are frustrated because they can't get an appointment to see a doctor. And when they finally do, only get a few minutes. It's all about numbers.

GUENTERBERG: We're kind of looking in the wrong direction. We need to be looking at how do you provide quality care for patients without driving up price?

SAVIDGE: That's the Democrat doctor criticizing ObamaCare and the Trump doctor says the new GOP plan is just as bad and will cover fewer people.

AL-AGBA: Well, I don't think it's better. I think we're probably on the wrong track.

SAVIDGE: Dr. Al-Agba even told Trump that in a letter she posted online, begging: Please go back to the drawing board and start again.

The problem, they say, is not all the talk about which party's health care plan is better. It's that Washington is having the wrong conversation.

(on camera): We're spending too much time talking about how do we cover people with insurance, rather than what?

AL-AGBA: Rather than talking with patients about the price for care and what is really -- what is the real cost?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): The skyrocketing cost of everything in health care they say it's what makes it unaffordable and thereby inaccessible. And because they daily battle with cost versus care, doctors have a lot of good ideas on how to fix things.

Except whatever Democrats or Republicans --


SAVIDGE (voice-over): -- discuss health care reform, the doctors say there's always something missing, which they noticed again in a photo of Trump and his team. LEHMANN: There were no physicians, not one.

SAVIDGE: What about the doctor appointed Secretary of Health?

Tom Price, they say, has for a long time been more politician than physician.

(on camera): Why wouldn't we come to you? You're all on the front lines so to speak.

AL-AGBA: Front line practicing physicians have a long history of not necessarily being at the table. And I think it's a shame we haven't been, because if we had been more involved from the beginning, we might be in a different position.

SAVIDGE (on camera): I should probably point out these doctors don't want to come out across as dumping on health insurance. They believe health insurance has a role to play. It's just not the whole solution.

And they want to be part of the active discussion because, they say, maybe more than anybody, they know that, whether it's ObamaCare or the latest Republican plan, when it comes to health care in America, we just can't keep going the way we're going -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Bremerton (ph), Washington.


ALLEN: Debate over Russia's cyber ability has dominated the political news in the U.S. since last year's election. U.S. officials warned those efforts will only grow bolder and more sophisticated.

HOWELL: CNN's Clare Sebastian has more now from Moscow on Russia's deepening investment in cyber warfare.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Guns and laptops, a slick appeal to Russia's top scientific brains to join the army.

"If you have technical skills," it says, "we want you."

It's about modernizing the Russian military, says one programming expert.

IGUR KOROTCHENKO, MILITARY EXPERT (through translator): It's not about the Defense Ministry hiring hackers. This is about attracting young graduates who can use their intellect to create new military technology.

SEBASTIAN: But there's another message here. That much of modern warfare is not tanks and missiles, but the battle in cyberspace.

SERGEY SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): We created information warfare forces. It is way more effective and powerful than what we created before in this area.

SEBASTIAN: The view here, it's an arms race.

KOROTCHENKO (through translator): When the U.S. created its cyber command, which had a global function, including influencing the enemy, of course, we understand that by the enemy, they usually mean Russia.

SEBASTIAN: And it's not just the military Russia's intelligence services are also part of its hybrid warfare.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: They did it with purpose, they did it with sophistication, they did it with overwhelming technical efforts.

SEBASTIAN: Former FBI director James Comey saying there's no doubt the Russian state tried to influence the U.S. election. This following sophisticated efforts to disrupt and sow doubt in Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

KEIR GLES, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: Russia tries to recruit hackers and talented information professionals in exactly the same way as other agencies do elsewhere and they face the same challenges. They are competing with organizations that can pay much better than organized services.

But Russia does have the additional leverage of being able to offer people a choice between prosecution and cooperating with the authorities.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Russia has aggressively sought Western technology for its cyber programs. Two years ago, WikiLeaks released a trove of e-mails stolen from an Italian company called Hacking Team.

Those e-mails reveal that Hacking Team's sophisticated software, which allows governments to spy on Internet users, were obtained by this Moscow-based research institute called Kvant. Kvant, as it turns out, is controlled by Russia's state security service, the FSB.

One of the Italian executives wrote of their business relationship, "They are already testing our products and we're going to arrange with their support a visit to Moscow in May, where we'll be able to meet FSB people."

Kvant used another company here, Advanced Communications, to seal the deal. Neither Kvant nor Advanced Communications would comment. Hacking Team said their software was designed to keep people safe.

While that case is one example of Russia's first for cyber superiority, this is an extremely sensitive topic here, partly because Russia is constantly being accused of foreign influence campaigns and also perhaps because of the sometimes hazy line between the state and what Vladimir Putin calls patriotic hackers.

However hazy the methods, Russia's focus on this hybrid war is plain to see -- Clare Sebastian, CNN, Moscow.


HOWELL: Clare, thank you.

Still ahead here, a look at the weather in China after Saturday's landslide. How that could affect the ongoing rescue efforts. Stay with us.





ALLEN: Back now to China. Rescue workers have pushed through the night looking for survivors after Saturday's landslide. The disaster struck a village in Sichuan province and buried dozens of homes.

HOWELL: State media report more than 100 people are still missing; 24 bodies have been found so far. A couple and their baby came out of that rubble alive but a local official admits it's unlikely that more survivors will be found.



HOWELL: Qatar says that a list of demands from four Arab nations to end the boycott of its country is unreasonable. In the last month, nine countries have severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which is a charge that nation denies.

Following this story, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is live in Amman, Jordan, this hour.

Good to have you with us, Jomana. So there is a timeline attached to these demands.

But Given Qatar's response so far, what indications are you hearing about where things go from here?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know George, it's looking highly unlikely that you're going to have Qatar agree to this list of sweeping demands.

We've heard from Qatari officials saying they are reviewing them and they are going to respond through the mediator, in this case, that's Kuwait. But we also heard what you just mentioned, Qatari officials saying these are unreasonable demand and they prove what they have been saying all along since the start of the crisis.

They say this is not really about combating terrorism. They say that was used as a pretext to go after Qatar and push it into a corner, to try to get concessions from this small country that has so much influence economically, politically, diplomatically in this region and beyond.

And the feeling is this is something that has irritated its bigger and stronger neighbors, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the feeling is this is the cause of the crisis, that they want to see Qatar change its foreign policy.

Now of course, the big question is, what happens next if Qatar does not comply?

We heard from the United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs saying that diplomacy is the way and there's not going to be escalation. But they say Qatar doesn't comply, that they'll be parting ways morning that we'll see an end to the Gulf Cooperation Council as it is right now.

Throughout this crisis, Qatar has maintained that they're open for dialogue and they want to resolve this crisis. But one thing they won't accept is anyone dictating what Qatar's foreign policy should be.

HOWELL: We're also hearing some support from the president of Turkey.

The question now is, does that nation have enough support in the region to withstand this blockade?

Jomana Karadsheh, live for us in Amman, Jordan. Thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: Next here, a battle over a controversial symbol is heating up once again. Why that's putting a big chill on a U.S. community.






HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM.

For a lot of people in the town of Orangeburg, South Carolina, the struggle for civil rights is still fresh in their minds, specifically the nearly 50-year-old memory of the so-called Orangeburg massacre.

ALLEN: Three African American men lost their lives there. Dozens more were wounded when police officers began firing into a crowd of protestors back in 1968.

Against that backdrop, a small ice cream shop owner is today in a struggle with his neighbor. A Confederate battle flag flies next to his restaurant.

HOWELL: Getting it moved has erupted into a battle. CNN's Victor Blackwell has this report.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This broad stretch of John C. Calhoun drive is flanked by two unambiguous landmarks and each, in its own way, signifies exactly where you are. On the right, a sign welcoming you to Orangeburg, South Carolina, population roughly 13,000 and more than three quarters black. On the left, a Confederate flag. The flag flies atop this pole, right next to the sign for the Edisto River Creamery.

By now, you know the flag's divisive history and seemingly, everyone in Orangeburg has an opinion about the flag at the ice cream shop.

UNIDENTFIED MALE: It needs to come down.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: I never stopped there and don't plan to as long as that flag's still up there.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: It's not bothering anybody. It's not hurting anybody.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: It definitely needs to come down. I think they will get more business, honestly, if they do take it down.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): And what does the owner of this restaurant have to say?

TOMMY DARAS, OWNER, EDISTO RIVER CREAMERY: That flag needs to be moved. And if there's any possible way that I can do it, it's going to be gone.

BLACKWELL: But right now, you can't?

DARAS: Right now, we're gridlocked.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): To understand why Tommy Daras cannot remove the flag, you need to know about this man.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): Maurice Bessinger, politician, activist and founder of Maurice's Piggie Park chain of barbecue restaurants across Central South Carolina. In this 2008 interview with Newsweek, Bessinger showed off his collection of Confederate memorabilia that filled his restaurants.

He was a fierce defender of States' Rights and segregation. In 2004 autobiography, Bessinger called the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional and the Supreme Court ruling that integrated public schools, a really bad decision. Then in 2000, when this happened at the South Carolina State Capital --

BESSINGER: I raised the flag out here on the big pole to protest the taking down of our heritage flag. BLACKWELL (voice-over): Maurice Bessinger died in 2014.

Of the flags outside of his stores, Bessinger wrote, "There they will stay. I will fight on because this is what God wants me to do."

A year after his death, Tommy Daras and his wife bought the Orangeburg location from Bessinger's children. But, not all of it.

BLACKWELL: Before Bessinger died, he sold a tiny bit of land surrounding this flagpole a little more than three thousandths of an acre for just $5 to the sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 842.

BUZZ BRAXTON, MEMBER, CAMP 842: We've been trying ever since --


BRAXTON: -- to honor, honor the Confederate soldier.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Buzz Braxton is Commander of the group's 8th Brigade and member of Camp 842.

BRAXTON: He put it in the hands of people that he trusted because he loved his Confederate ancestors and his Confederate history just like we do. So there was nothing sinister.

BLACKWELL: Initially, Daras accepted the flag and the nearby marker. But that changed weeks after his grand opening. The group flew a larger flag in the aftermath of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston. Dylann Roof killed nine church members after calling for a race war.

DARAS: From that day forward, all hell broke loose for me. Because, you know, there -- my windows were broken out. My phone was ringing offer the hook. My employees were harassed. I disliked by people in the parking lot. Everyone in town assumed it was my property. It looks like it's attached to this building.

UNIDENTFIED MALE: I know it's unfortunate for him. But me personally and a lot of people I know will not shop here because of this flag.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Maurice Bessinger's battle for the flag rages on. Daras has hired a lawyer.

DARAS: That flag needs to be moved.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): The Sons of the Confederate Veterans say they're ready.

BRAXTON: Not as long as we're alive.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Victor Blackwell, CNN, Orangeburg, South Carolina.


ALLEN: Thanks for watching this hour. Our top stories are ahead. I'm Natalie Allen.