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Syrian Civil War: Unprecedented 270,000 People Face Desperate Desert Conditions after Fleeing Regime Offensive; Couple Ill After Exposure To Unknown Substance; Heaviest Rain In 38 Years Kills Six People; Chimpanzee Reunites With Human Poster Parents. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 4, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): They are safe but they might be trapped inside a cave for months. Divers may have finally found the missing boys in Thailand but getting them out of the cave is proving to be tougher than anyone expected.

And forced to flee with nowhere left to go, the borders are closed for Syrians and options limited as they try to escape the violence in Daraa.

Plus a huge win finally breaks a curse for England as they knock Colombia out of the World Cup and finally score big in a penalty shootout.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: We begin with new video from Thailand of the youth football team and their coach trapped in a flooded cage. The boys ages, 11-16, now have blankets, food and fresh water. Navy divers, including a doctor and a nurse, are staying underground with them while military planners are trying to find the best way to get them out.

In the video, each boy says his name and tells his family he's in good health. One boy thanks everyone for their support.

Anna Coren joins me now from Northern Thailand.

Anna, the map showing the extent of this cave system and the small spaces that the divers traveled through to get to these boys, illustrates how challenging and hazardous this extraction will be.

How are they going to do this?

What are the options here?

What's the safest way for them to get these boys out? ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, these boys have to get through a cave system of more than 4 kilometers. In some parts they'll be able to walk; other parts, they might be able to float. But then there are some parts, like narrowed passageways which are completely flooded that they'll have to submerge. They'll have to go underwater.

So that is why authorities are talking about the kids wearing these full-face oxygen masks, which have a tube to an oxygen tank that you would assume a Navy SEAL diver would then carry. The divers will be leading the boys through these tiny passageways. It is extremely difficult and complex.

These children don't know how to swim, so it's going to be unfamiliar territory. We heard from the governor earlier today and he said that the children are testing these full-face oxygen masks. This is not like the sophisticated scuba gear that we initially thought they'd have to use. This is something that is involving the whole face.

So they're using it, they're getting used to it, so they are preparing for this method. This is how they're going to evacuate.

But we got some news a short time ago from one of the other divers, who is part of this team, part of the international team. And he said that he heard from the doctor, who is a Navy SEAL, spending time with these boys.

He came out and he told them that one of the boys heard a chicken, which, I know that sounds bizarre, but one of the boys, that's the sound that he heard. Initially, they thought perhaps he was hallucinating. But this child said, no, I grew up on a farm. I know what a chicken sounds like.

So now they think that where the boys are located could be close to an access hole, to an airhole, to one of those chimneys.

So now, as of the last hour, there is a team climbing the mountain, looking for those access holes, which are spread right across this cave system. But whether it's the right hole, whether it can go all the way down to the cavern, that remains to be seen. But that is now seriously also being looked at -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: That is incredible progress. Of course, the problem is the danger. We've talked various experts that say any sort of adjustment to openings there, you do run the risk of any form of collapse of that cave system. So there are risks involved with all of this.

So let's hope that's a possibility that could result in the boys being taken out of some sort of hole there or some entrance there.

But just back to that possibility of the diving option, which they're still focusing on, these boys are getting used to wearing these oxygen masks. But they're going to have to venture through small spaces with low visibility for about two hours or so to get through that whole cave --


CHURCH: -- system. It's an extraordinary venture for these boys.

How are they wrapping their minds around this?

How are they approaching this possibility of diving through that system?

COREN: Yes, it's unfathomable, isn't it, considering these are just young kids, a part of a soccer team that, 11 days ago, went to soccer practice and then came to this cave system, as friends do, to go out for a bit of an explore.

We've seen that incredible footage today, Rosemary, that the Thai Navy SEALs have released of the condition of the boys. They're smiling, they're saying their names, they're also saying that we are healthy but you can also tell how gaunt they are, how much weight they have lost, how thin these kids are because they did not eat for almost 10 days.

So the Navy SEAL divers who are there with them, including this doctor, they are supplying them with food, with energy gels, soft, digestible food to boost their energy. We know that they need to build strength if they are going to undertake what would be a very arduous journey.

But we know that they want out, they want to get out of this cave system as quickly as possible.

And one of the kids alluded to that.

On the first day that he saw the diver, he said, "Can we get out today?"

So these kids definitely want to be reunited with their families. They want to be here in the outside world.

CHURCH: Totally understandable. Let's hope that this option, the presence of this chicken somewhere in that cave system, will lead rescuers to some opening that will allow these boys to exit much easier than through the diving option.

Our Anna Coren, keeping us up to date on the shifts and turns and many developments on this story from Northern Thailand. We'll talk again next hour. Many thanks.

A key component to the rescue effort is communication and an Israeli company is making it easier for vital information to reach the people who need it. Oren Liebermann has the details.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rescue teams inching their way along the underground cave rescue a football team and its coach, a monumentally difficult operation in terms of logistics, survival and communications. Enter Maxtech Networks, maker of a small hand-held radio that's been

an essential part of the rescue efforts.

TOM GILAD, MAXTECH NETWORKS: We can simulate the topography of what's going on inside the tunnels and inside caves with this --

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Tom Gilad, an engineer at Maxtech Networks, shows me their lab in Israel. The system looks like a bunch of walkie-talkies. But it's their ability to connect the radios that makes them valuable.

Regular walkie-talkies can talk to each other if they're within roughly line of sight. Beyond that, they need relays and repeaters to spread the signal. These walkie-talkies automatically act as the repeaters, allowing them to instantly increase the range communications without a middleman.

LIEBERMANN: Normally, you sit -- the guy at radio number one has to talk to radio number two. Radio number two has to talk to radio number three, radio number three then has to talk to radio number four --

GILAD: Not in our system though.

LIEBERMANN: You skip all that?

GILAD: We skip all that. Radio one speaks; the other end hears it in less than a second.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Crucially, the technology works without an established infrastructure, so, for example, in a cave.

GILAD: One line of sight breaks or if something happens to this radio, five times per second our routing algorithm is recalculating which is the best route for the package to travel to their destinations.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Thai rescue teams requested Maxtech's radios to help the operation.

UZI HANUNI, MAXTECH NETWORKS: We decided we would contribute this equipment. I think this is the Israeli side of every rescue mission in the world. You won't see people in a rescue mission selling stuff. They usually give it and, thereafter, you know, we find it coming back to us 10 times.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): In Jewish scripture, there's a saying that he who saves one life saves the world entire. The team that provided the radios to the rescue effort is happy they could do their part to save 13 -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Yavne, Israel.



CHURCH: The celebration is on for England as they advance to the World Cup quarterfinals with the dramatic shoot-out win over Colombia. We're now down to the final eight teams in Russia with the --


CHURCH: -- next two matches set for Friday. And CNN "WORLD SPORT" anchor Patrick Snell joins me now in the studio.

So you're all smiles, your team won, you're so proud.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I promise not to gloat too much.

CHURCH: And in such dramatic fashion.

SNELL: Yes, it really was. England and penalties over the years, they don't really go hand in hand.


SNELL: They had never won one at a World Cup when it comes to penalty shootouts. But all that's changed now. And mighty, mighty relief. And England have been growing quietly in confidence. They won't be taking anything for granted but are through to the quarterfinals.

Sort of recap how they did it.

I mentioned the word penalty; they actually got one in normal time here. Harry Kane, their captain, that was his 6th goal already at this World Cup. And at that point, we thought England would be in control and get the win.

But Colombia leveling through Yerry Mina in stoppage time. Now we did get the dramatic penalty shootout. What a great save that is from Jordan Pickford, denying Carlos Bacca there.

So the moment for England and their fans, Eric Dier, the Tottenham player with the winning -- look at that reaction of England players, Harry Kane leading the charge there. They're so relieved because the last time they had a win at a competitive tournament was Euro '96 when they won on a penalty shootout.

There Harry Kane, this video there, that emotion, you're going to see his face now and just what it means to him. He's leading this team and they are through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. And he's the 24-year-old captain of English national team and they're looking pretty impressive.

Now this is the other game, because England next take on the Swedes, who beat Switzerland. One goal did it. It was a deflected effort from Emil Forsberg. But I tell you what, the Scandinavian country will not care one little bit, their fans neither. They are through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time since USA '94.

And they're going to play England. Both nations will feel they're in with a chance of beating each other. So a really exciting time for the World Cup. A bit of a break now and then action on Friday.

CHURCH: So what can we expect, what would we be looking for on Friday?

Two games on Friday. Two games on Saturday.

SNELL: Two games on Friday. I'll briefly mention the Saturday games in a moment. I just want to look ahead to Friday, because these two compelling fixtures. We got France and Uruguay and Brazil taking on Belgium.

This is the stage in the tournament when players start thinking of the semifinals or maybe even beyond. Now just to reset for our viewers, Uruguay, two-time winners, are going to be taking on another country that's won this tournament before, France, the '98 champs. That's in the first match of Friday.

A bit of history here, the pair met six times in the World Cup, with Uruguay winning twice. The four other games, they were all draws.

Now the French, I want to pick up on this one player in particular. They are absolutely dazzled by what we saw over the weekend. Teen sensation Kylian Mbappe, just 19 years of age, he scored twice against Lionel Messi and Argentina in the round of 16, sending that particular South American country home.

A big headache for Uruguay. Seems to be concerns over their star striker. One of their star strikers, Edinson Cavani, he scored twice against Portugal. But he got a calf injury later on in that game and he had to come off.

So they're monitoring his fitness. They need him. They need Luis Suarez as well, firing on all cylinders. Then it's the turn of the five-time winners, Brazil. Remember, Brazil looking to win this tournament for a sixth time. They take on Belgium and they've met just once at the World Cup. That was back in 2002. Brazil won on that occasion.

And the Belgians, what a story, we've been following them and their victory so dramatically over Japan. But they'll have to be keeping a close eye. We spoke about it --


CHURCH: Yes, we did.

SNELL: -- Neymar, he was on the scoresheets in the 2-0 win over Mexico. But grabbed plenty of adverse publicity, shall we say, for a rather over-the-top reaction to a challenge from the El Tri player Miguel Layun.

Belgium, I like their chances. Strictly speaking, officially, I'm tipping England or I should be rooting for England all the way. But I do like Belgium's chances to go very deep in this tournament. They've got by a real test against Japan. They got that 94th minute winner and they're through to their second consecutive World Cup quarterfinal, third straight quarterfinal if you want to throw in Euro '16 to the mix. And then Saturday games, again, it's Sweden-England. That's the one

-- and I said earlier, both countries will absolutely feel they can beat each other. And then we got Russia, the host nation, taking on Croatia as well.

CHURCH: It's still amazing.

SNELL: It's all to play for. And we're down to the last eight of the tournament.

CHURCH: And you're thinking Belgium.

Were you going out on a limb there?

SNELL: No, I think Belgium will go deep in the tournament. That doesn't -- I'm still --


SNELL: -- I still think Brazil are going to win this World Cup. I just think it's something about them. I think Neymar's improving the lead in every game. Forget his controversies. There are plenty of them.

CHURCH: He's still dealing with a bit of grief over that, isn't he?

SNELL: Yes, he really is.

CHURCH: All right.

SNELL: But hey, I won't mention --


SNELL: -- England winning again, I promise you.

CHURCH: We'll see. I'll be watching and listening. Thanks, Patrick. We'll talk next hour.


CHURCH: The Trump administration is running out of time to reunite migrant families separated at the southern border. And now some of those families say officials are pressuring them to drop their asylum claims.

And fleeing for their lives but can hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees find safe haven?

We'll take a look at that on the other side of the break. Do stay with us.




CHURCH: Less than two weeks before President Trump is to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Senate lawmakers are backing up a U.S. intelligence assessment of Russian involvement in the U.S. election.

The Senate Intelligence Committee says it sees no reason to dispute the intelligence community's conclusion that President Putin sought to boost Mr. Trump's election chances and was trying to discredit Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton.

Let's take a closer look at all this with Larry Sabato, he's the director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Always great to have you on the show.


CHURCH: So here we have the Senate Intelligence Committee, breaking with their House Republican counterpart and agreeing with the intelligence community, that Russia's president Vladimir Putin tried to help Donald Trump win by meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

What changed the minds of these Republicans, given their own president doesn't accept the conclusions of that January 2017 assessment made by the intel community?

SABATO: Rosemary, I don't believe their minds were changed. I think they knew from the beginning, as the House Republicans probably did, that the Russians were meddling in major ways in our election and obviously they favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

You don't have to conduct an investigation with secret and classified information to figure that out.

What distinguishes the Republican senators on the Intelligence Committee from the Republican House members on the their counterpart committee in the House, is that the Republican senators from the beginning had an open mind about this. They were willing to listen to the testimony.

The evidence is overwhelming from all of the intelligence agencies. By the way, Rosemary, a lot of the people in the intelligence agencies are very, very Republican. This is not --


SABATO: -- an ideological hit job from the Left; this is something that the intelligence community has been believed for 1.5 years, over 1.5 years now.

CHURCH: So why didn't the House Republicans say so?

SABATO: You know, the House Republicans have a major difference with the Senate Republicans. And it was designed by the -- America's founders. The Republicans in the House, as with the Democrats, have a two-year term. They come up every two years. They're up this year.

They're in primaries right now; they have been since March, with the general election in November. Only a third of the senators are on the ballot this year.

Two-thirds can afford to stand up to President Trump and side with the intelligence community because they aren't on the ballot. And I think it's important to remember the political/electoral connection here.

CHURCH: Ah, so politics is at the core, surprise, surprise.


CHURCH: All right. So how do you think this will all play out with the July 16th Putin-Trump summit meeting in Helsinki?

SABATO: It's going to be fascinating to see the extent to it. Trump even raises this issue. Some of his aides are suggesting he will raise it.

But will he do so in a session that is at least semipublic, when there are witnesses?

They're saying Trump and Putin will have a considerable amount of time by themselves, only the translators being there. As you know, they're forbidden from speaking probably ever in Russia. So they can't really tell anything, only the principals can tell you anything.

So it's whatever Trump and Putin says was discussed. That's the official record for the summit.

Now will Trump discuss election meddling?

I think he'll bring it up incidentally. And I would be shocked if he presses the case for it. There will be a glancing blow, if that, and he'll sell it and spin it as far as he can. But it isn't going to make the slightest difference.

Now it's true, Putin may not be as inclined to push Russian interference in the midterm election as he was in the presidential election.

Why would he bother particularly?

His next objective is the 2020 presidential candidacy and campaign, when I will bet where he'll do everything possible to help Donald Trump again.

CHURCH: Right. And I do want to switch gears to immigration and the call from the Democrats to abolish ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. President Trump rejected that call and here's what he had to say about it.


TRUMP: But, when these people come into our country and come in illegally and then they disperse throughout the country and all of a sudden you see a mess of MS-13, you know, it's like your liberating towns.

ICE goes in there and they go in there and sometimes they have to go in swinging. They don't mind, they're tough. And then I hear Democrats saying, we want to abandon ICE, we want to abandon -- we're not abandoning ICE. and we're not abandoning our law enforcement. Just the opposite.


CHURCH: So Larry, by calling for the abolition of ICE, are the Democrats simply playing right into the narrative of Donald Trump and running the risk of looking like they are against border controls and law enforcement?

SABATO: Precisely, Rosemary. You've encapsulated the mistake the Democrats are making. Look, everyone knows there's a problem with what's going on at the border. And I mean ICE's actions, not just with respect to the migrants entering the United States illegally. That is a separate problem.

And President Trump, as always, exaggerates. And he exaggerated enormously about liberating towns. So that's utterly absurd.

So here's the problem for the Democrats, they are uttering a slogan, abolish ICE, that is really the equivalent of the old right-wing Republican slogan, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, abolish the IRS. Countries have to levy taxes and the country have to regulate and navigate their borders. They aren't nations if they don't.

It would have been so easy for Democrats to say, reform ICE, not abolish ICE. But as usual, the people at one end of the spectrum; in this case, the left end of the spectrum, are dictating policy. The tail is wagging the dog. And the Democratic leadership has to do something about this fast.

CHURCH: Yes. We shall see, of course, the outcome when the midterm elections occur in November and see what happens then. Larry Sabato, always good to have you with us. Thanks so much.

SABATO: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Many migrant --


CHURCH: -- families are desperately trying to reunite with their children after being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Trump administration is just days away from a court-ordered deadline to reunite them. But activists fear the administration does not have a plan to fix the crisis it created. Our Miguel Marquez has more.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The clock is ticking under order by a federal judge, the Trump administration has until next Tuesday to reunite children under 5 with their families. And all kids must be reunited by July 26th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got off the phone with one of the mothers we represent. She has spoken to her son -- or her daughter -- once since they were separated in May. And she has no news about imminent reunification or anything of that sort.

MARQUEZ: And that's what you're hear --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're hearing None of our clients have reported that they were notified that they are going to be reunited in the next few days.

MARQUEZ: Efren Olivares with the Texas Civil Rights Project represents nearly 400 separated families. He says families are reporting they are being pressured to drop their asylum claim and agree to faster deportation in exchange for quicker reunification with their children.

EFREN OLIVARES, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: They are being presented with the option of choosing removal and being reunited with their children as part of that process.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In another setback for president's zero tolerance immigration policy, a federal judge in Washington ruled the Trump administration cannot arbitrarily detain those seeking asylum.

In a sharp rebuke, Judge James Boasberg wrote, "This opinion does no more than hold the government accountable to its own policy, which recently has been honored more in the breach than the observance."

All this as the pace of families seeking asylum in the U.S. continues as it has for years. Sister Norma Pimentel (ph) says her Catholic Charities helps 50 to 100 families every day.

SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, CATHOLIC CHARITIES: All of them have been processed by Border Patrol and they determine that these families meet a family profile, where they can continue their legal immigration process at another point in the United States.


CHURCH: Many thanks to our Miguel Marquez, reporting near the U.S.- Mexico border.

The Trump administration is taking a major step against affirmative action. It will now encourage schools and universities not to consider race when deciding which students to admit.

On Tuesday, the administration reversed Obama-era policies which outlined how schools could legally consider race as a factor to diversify their student intake. Two years ago, the swing vote of Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy reaffirmed that schools can constitutionally consider race as one of many factors in the admissions process.

But now Justice Kennedy is retiring, giving President Trump a chance to replace him with a high court judge, who could be more skeptical of affirmative action.

We'll take a short break here. Still to come, a closer look at the many challenges rescuers are facing as they try to get 13 people out of that flooded cave in Thailand.

Plus the U.N. warns a situation in Southwest Syria is getting even worse. Hundreds of thousands have fled war-torn Daraa province but they find they have nowhere to go. We're back with that in a moment.


[02:30:51] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the stories we've been following this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump is demanding NATO allies to boast their defense spending. He has sent scathing letters to the leaders of several countries including Norway, Canada, and Germany. He warns the U.S. may shift its military presence in Europe if they don't comply. The clock is ticking, the Trump administration now has a week to reunite migrant children under five with their family and all children by July 26th. At least 2,000 are in government custody. The judge's ruling applies to families who crossed into the U.S. illegally and those who requested asylum at border crossings.

England are going to the quarter finals at the World Cup after a traumatic shootout win over Colombia. They will face Sweden who beat Switzerland on Tuesday. England's captain Harry Kane leads all World Cup scorers with six goals. Well, rescuers are weighing their options in Thailand as they work to get 13 people out of that flooded cave. New images show 12 boys and their football coach huddled together by blankets brought in by navy divers. The Governor of Chiang Rai Province says no rescue attempts will be made until authorities are confident there are no risks involved. CNN's Tom Foreman looks at the challenges that lie ahead.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Darkness, cold, rushing water, and time. Rescuers will have to overcome all those elements to bring the boys to sunlight and right now it is not clear how or how quickly that can happen. With substantial portions of the passage to safety flooded, the idea of bringing them through underwater is fraught with peril. Authorities have not yet specified how long the boys would have to be submerged to make it through those sections, but it appears substantial. In addition, some of the boys reportedly don't know how to swim. Rescuers have speculated that they could be trained to dive while in the cave and then one by one let out. But skilled divers note that would bring a strong risk of panic especially in areas where the water is so densely filled with debris. Visibility is only a few inches where currents are strong and where narrow passageways prevail.

ANMAR MIRZA, U.S. NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISSION: Cave diving is an incredibly dangerous activity for people who are very experienced doing it. And now you're looking at taking people who have no experience or very little experience of diving and putting them into a complete black out situation where they have to rely on the regulator and the tanks with them to breathe. And losing that regulator even for a minute or two could be fatal.

FOREMAN: On top of all that, the boys are hardly in great shape for such an attempt. Authorities report, they spend more than a week with no food, huddled on a chilly cramped ledge. But the options are limited. Rescuers could potentially drill an escape route as they did for the trapped Chilean miners in 2010 who are about as deep down. But that took more than two months with potentially catastrophic failure haunting every day. Officials could send supplies to the boys, move them to a wider safer platform, and wait until the waters recede, but that could take even more time.


FOREMAN: The monsoon season here in Thailand has only just started. It's torrential and they could be stuck in there for four months. Tom Foreman, CNN Washington.

CHURCH: So some terrifying options there. Ivan Cabrera joins us because of course the other thing to consider is the weather and while they're trying to do this, the water rises. The water keeps coming. It is the rainy season.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's my concern, Rosemary, is the water may not stay at the level it is. I mean they're pumping a lot of it out. But with the torrential down force they may have months to be able to kind of just wait for them to really get them from the top. So they may have to dive in. Let's talk about this forecast here. Unfortunately, I don't have better views from the last hour. Really, it is the monsoon season. I mean these are the kinds of showers and thunderstorms that can produce rainfall raids of a hundred -- two hundred millimeters an hour and sometimes we do get those kind of results and accumulations in just an hour. So we'll zoom in here and we'll see the diagonal pattern here, right?

[02:35:12] So it's not anything organized. It's just the heating of the day, the incredible amount of humidity here, and so you get those cumulus clouds building up and you get the thunderstorms. That's where they ask to do. As far as the next five days, the heaviest of the rain should stay to the west. But, nevertheless, we're surrounded here by rainfall. And just keep in mind, it doesn't have to rain right on top of them, right? So we have mountains north of that and so when it rains there it has to come down the mountain side. It has to drain out and get into the cave system, and that's why I am concern. We will continue to be quite high in the next few weeks and hopefully not months here. South China Sea also monitoring that for any potential cycle in development. We are in typhoon season, not seeing that. We do have a typhoon that will develop northeast of the Philippines. That's going to pull moisture into the Philippines, but we're looking at this point normal which is to say very heavy rainfall in the next few days.

Here we are. I mean it doesn't get worse than this heading into August even a little more rainfall and then will begin to go down, so if you're going to wait for things to dry out, October, November, that's what we're looking at, and that's why I think they've been talking about months. By the way, the time (INAUDIBLE) forecasting a 10 percent above normal monsoon, so on the top of the heavy rainfall, we normally get -- it's going to be 10 percent heavier further south. That's the other direction. I wish it was (INAUDIBLE) but it's not. So here we go, forecast into the 30s, we'll have those thunderstorms that will continue over the next few days. So more water getting pumped out while more water gets funneled into the caves as a result all of this tropical moisture that has pretty typical for this time of year.

CHURCH: Yes. Absolutely. Of course, we heard from Anna Coren who was there that one of the boys thinks he heard a chicken. So there was a thought he comes from away. He says he knows he heard a chicken, so there's a thought that maybe there's some sort exit there, so --


CHURCH: -- so hopefully, that will be another option, maybe a safe option. Ivan, let's talk again next hour. Appreciate it. Well, a new effort is underway to try to stop the fighting in Southwest Syria. Syria's military offensive for Daraa Province has forced more than a quarter of a million people from their homes. Jordan says it's mediating a new round of talks between Russia which has backed Syria and rebel groups. A rebel spokesman says he hopes the negotiations will stop the blood bath. But the U.N. warns the situation is worsening. It says hundreds of thousands of civilians are stranded and neither Jordan nor Israel are willing to take them in. Rachel Sider is an advocacy adviser on Syria with the Norwegian Refugee Council. She joins us now from Amman, Jordan. Thank you so much for being with us. So let's talk about the plight of these thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting in Southern Syria. Your organization is appealing to Jordan to help shelter these people. Now, we know that Jordan has done a lot for many hundreds of thousands of people. They've pretty much had enough. But what has been the reaction so far? How likely is it that Jordan would let some of these people in?

RACHEL SIDER, ADVOCACY ADVISER, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: Well, the humanitarian situation is indeed concerning. What we've seen in recent days is accumulation of tens of thousands of Syrians at the border with Jordan who are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. And we've seen some efforts on behalf of the government of Jordan to allow aid agencies to deliver some goods to those people including food, hygiene items, and medical care. We've heard speculation that there will be improvements in terms of medical evacuations into Jordan for those who have been critically wounded in the ongoing violence. And we are optimistic that we will start to see improvements in terms of humanitarian access to the populations which have sought safety along the border with Jordan. But, nonetheless, the Jordan government needs help and support from

the international community in order to enable this effort. What we've seen in recent days has been immense generosity on behalf of Syrian aid agencies themselves who are in Southern Syria to be able to provide urgent medical care, humanitarian assistance to those who've been displaced, but much more is needed. And it is going to require substantial effort by the international community to help Jordan take safety and Syrians into its borders and enable tens of thousands to be accommodated inside Jordan.

CHURCH: Yes. And that effort needs to be beyond Jordan really, doesn't it, because they have taken the largest burden of this? So talk to us more about what the international community needs to be doing at this time.

SIDER: Well, we understand that this effort could take a long time, many, many weeks to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are sheltering along with border with Jordan as well as another parts of Southern Syria particularly in Quneitra Governorate along the Golan Heights.

[02:40:02] And what we're seeing is that there are already efforts underway in Jordan to develop places which have already accommodated substantial communities of Syrian refugees at a camp which accommodate up to 80,000 Syrians and is already available to immediately support the hosting of up to 15,000. And that's going to require months of food, medical assistance, tents, shelter materials to be able to accommodate Syrians if Jordan is willing to open its borders. And in addition to that, the Syrian aid agencies that continue to meet the needs of those who are displaced across Daraa and Quneitra are in need of assistance, that include shelter, medical items, and other materials that are going to those who have been trapped and fled in the fighting and are now sheltering in some of the few safe places in the desert.

CHURCH: And what are some of the experiences of the Syrian refugees being pushed further south by the fighting? What have they had to deal with so far?

SIDER: Well, we're hearing is that these are families that have fled from one village to another. They've left with hardly anything in their company, but their own family members. And have crossed long stretches of dry area desert. They fled amidst following air strikes and shelling on the ground. And they've been searching for that few options in terms of safety and what we're hearing is that there are very few places left to be able to seek safety. And that those who are sheltering along the Jordan border and in part of Quneitra are thirsty, they're tired, they're hungry, and they're running out of supplies. And what we're also hearing from them is that the situation is only getting more desperate as the front line shift and as the violence arrives closer to their doorsteps.

CHURCH: And Rachel, what does the future hold for the Syrian refugees in reality?

SIDER: I think the future is quite uncertain for those who are displaced still with inside South Syria. As those battle line shift, we're concerned that their safety will be jeopardized and they've already experienced immense human suffering. So really that is why we're appealing to Jordan to with the support of the international community offer refuge to those who are the most vulnerable in particular, so that's women who are pregnant, children those with disabilities to offer immediate international protection to those at the (INAUDIBLE) border crossing. And in addition to that, steps need to be taken to end the violence once and for all. Only through a humanitarian pause we'll be able to see the entry of aid convoys into Southern Syria from Jordan and be able to maleate those most urgent humanitarian needs.

CHURCH: Rachel Sider, thank you for sharing some light on the plight of these Syrian refugees. We appreciate talking to you.


CHURCH: Well, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to North Korea Thursday to continue talks on denuclearization. The White House hasn't commented on U.S. intelligence assessment that North Korea is expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities instead of dismantling the program. On Twitter, President Trump said talks with the North we're going well. As proof of progress, he pointed to, "No rocket launches or nuclear testing in eight months." Our Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul in South Korea. So Paula, the U.S. President is avoiding any reference to the U.S. intelligence assessment that North Korea is expanding rather than dismantling its nuclear weapons capabilities. Instead, he's insisting proof of progress is eight months without rocket launches or nuclear testing. Will the region buy that argument?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, I think the fact that there haven't been these rocket and nuclear tests in eight months and thus the U.S. president himself said all of Asia is thrilled. I think that's a fair assessment. There is a sense of relief certainly here in South Korea. I'm sure in Japan as well and other -- the other areas in the region. The tense situation we saw last year -- this time last year in particular, that has abated. So now, we're not talking about the possibility of a second Korean War which was a great concern to many people in South Korea as you can imagine last year.

So certainly in that respect, the region is going to focus on the positive. But what we're seeing here in South Korea is there is no willingness to go on the record and talk about these intelligence reports, the same with other countries. But South Korea is just getting on with it. They're getting on with their relationship with North Korea. We have -- we see basketball teams from South Korea arriving in North Korea. They're going to be playing a couple of -- a couple of basketball matches with North Korean players as well today and another one tomorrow.

[02:44:57] So, that is going on. We're hearing that there are many talks when it comes to rebuilding infrastructure between North and South Korea. Roads, railways, forest trees. There's an all for a lot of intersection between the North and South at this point. So, really that seems to be what Seoul is focusing on right now as opposed to individual tweets or individual claims by the U.S. president.

CHURCH: All right, our Paula Hancocks, keeping us up to date there from Seoul in South Korea, many thanks. We'll take a break. We'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM after this.


CHURCH: Police in England are investigating what they call a major incident involving an unknown substance. A couple in the town of Amesbury are in critical condition after being exposed to it. And Nick Paton Walsh is with us now from London. So, Nick, what are we learning about this incident?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very little at this point, Rosemary. So, I should sound a note of extreme caution. But it's the geography that has people deeply concerned because it is so close to Salisbury where the former Russian spy, Sergei and his daughter, Yulia Skripal were made the seriously old by a toxic nerve agent here.

We simply know that a couple both in their 40s, were on Saturday night formed extremely ill only to quote, "an unknown substance." Now, at the time, it was believed they could have been possibly heroin or crack cocaine over those involved. Perhaps, a contaminated version of that drug according to Wiltshire police.

Since further tests have continued, but the substance appears to be less clearly and normally legally available drug in the U.K. So, further questions are being asked about that. Tests are ongoing and frankly, I think because of the history of that area, and perhaps, criticisms against the police and services, they didn't necessarily move fast enough back then that may now be extra caution being taken.

The phrase major incident is not often used particularly in relation to a contamination like this. And the places where the couple went during that Saturday night are also receiving police attention. Some of them being cordoned off.

But I have to be absolutely clear at this stage, we know very little about this unknown substance, it could be a variety of illegally available drug that the authorities aren't particularly used to coming across. But still is where it happened that makes many people deeply concerned.

Yulia and Sergei Skripal have since been released from hospital but they're poisoning by a military-grade nerve agent, novichok, by say the United Kingdom -- the Russian authorities has spot a massive diplomats -- against the expulsion of diplomats around the world. And, of course, a degree of sanctions against Moscow authorities.

But here it is purely the history and geography that caused. This otherwise frankly, sadly, normal domestic incidents being receiving more attention along with the fact the authorities haven't really worked out what this substance is, just yet despite initially thinking it may have been, quote, "A contaminated batch of drugs like heroin or crack cocaine." Rosemary? [02:50:28] CHURCH: Yes. Understand the caution and Nick Paton Walsh, giving us up to date on that story from London. And, of course, he will continue to bring us updates as they come in.

Well, thousands of people took to the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities, Tuesday, shouting shame and free courts. They were protesting government changes including forcing a third of Supreme Court judges to retire.

The top justice tells state media, she is not going anywhere. And the E.U. strongly opposes the overhaul imposed by Poland's ruling party. More protests are expected Wednesday. Former president Lech Walesa, says he will take part.

Well, a dramatic fall from grace for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has now been charged with corruption. Najib is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the state investment fund he created.

Investigators alleged some of that money was used to buy gold necklaces and bracelets for his wife. Najib pleaded not guilty to the charges, the allegations against him played a major role when he was voted out of power in May after leading Malaysia for nearly a decade.

Well, Lahore, Pakistan is seeing its heaviest rain in 38 years, turning streets into rivers. Emergency officials say, at least, four people were killed when their roofs collapsed, two others were electrocuted.

Pakistan's chief meteorologist, says the monsoon system soaking the city will continue for the next several days. We'll take a short break here. But still, to come, patriotism maybe taking a hit in the U.S. as Independence Day celebrations draw near. What's behind it? We'll take a look at that back in a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. A chimpanzee was recently reunited with his foster parents, his human foster parents. Let's just say it was a happy family reunion. Here's Andrew Scheinthal.


ANDREW SCHEINTHAL, NEWS REPORTER, WSVN: It's a viral video that is capturing the hearts of millions. Limbani, the chimpanzee getting a surprise visit from the couple that helped raise him.

MARIO TABRAUE, DIRECTOR, ZOOLOGICAL WILDLIFE FOUNDATION: They give a so much love and attention and he's like part of the family, he feels he's part of the family.

SCHEINTHAL: Limbani lives here at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation in southwest Miami-Dade. When he first arrived, he was sick and needed around-the-clock care. That's where Jorge and Tania Sanchez come in. TABRAUE: While, they were taking care of him, he had pneumonia. He had to go to doctors, had to have nebulizer two times a day, and they did it all. So, he got very bonded with them.

SCHEINTHAL: And that bond is unbreakable. The 22-month-old chimp unable to contain his excitement every time he sees them.

TABRAUE: He wants hugs and he jumps on them. All their love that they have for him, he shares -- he shares back.

SCHEINTHAL: Now with the video catching like fire, the hope is that the love Limbani shares with the Sanchez's will inspire others to love these animals just the same.

[02:55:02] TABRAUE: People should understand not only this species but all species that we have are going to extinct in the wild. And some people don't care. People think, let them go -- let them go extinct.

We believe they shouldn't go extinct. We believe that we need to give more attention, and more love.


CHURCH: All has gorgeous hugs that was adorable. Well, as the U.S. gets ready to observe Independence Day, in just a few hours from now. A new poll suggests some Americans aren't in a celebratory mood. Jeanne Moos, explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is once exploding American patriotism starting to fizzle?

Would you call yourself extremely proud to be an American?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at the moment. I'm sorry.

MOOS: Only 47 percent of Americans say they're extremely proud to be an American. That's the lowest level since Gallup first asks the question 17 years ago.

Extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud only a little.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very proud, very proud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I could be prouder to be an American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred percent patriotic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I would say, I'm embarrassed to be an American right now.

MOOS: And you're a proud citizen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm super proud. MOOS: Immigrants Dave, especially, heartfelt answers. For instance, this naturalized citizen from India.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to be very proud and I would say I've just moderately proud now, it makes me heartbroken. I'm hopeful that I shall be extremely proud again.

MOOS: Those who admit to a slide in her pride, and a blame of president who has wrapped himself in a flag.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd be extremely if Trump wasn't president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a shame, it's disgusting.

MOOS: I'm going to put you in the not at all proud to be an American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not, not at all. If I had an opportunity, I would get the hell out of this country. She's my friend.

MOOS: 32 percent of Democrats told Gallup they were extremely proud compared to 74 percent of Republicans. The president's patriotism never flags.

Some of these stars, if she wasn't my flag, I'd be dating her.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: Happy Fourth of July to all you Americans out there, and thanks so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. And I'll be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment. Stick around.


CHURCH: A daunting rescue mission now that Thailand's missing boys have been found, rescuers are learning just how tough it will be to get them out of that flooded cave.

Plus, President Trump, sends a warning not to his enemies but to Washington's biggest allies. Why the U.S. leader is challenging some long-standing diplomatic ties?