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U.S. Immigration Debate; U.S. Trade War; Thailand Cave Rescue; Trump White House; U.K. Nerve Agent Mystery; Eight Dead as Record Flooding Hits Japan; 2018 World Cup. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 7, 2018 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hundreds of families separated and reuniting them is a mess. Now the U.S. government says it might need more time, this as fallout continues over than the Trump administration's immigration policy.

Also divers trying to rescue -- evacuate, rather -- the Thai football team facing a critical point in the rescue efforts. We're on that story for you.

And heartbreak in Brazil. English (INAUDIBLE) ahead and Saturday's World Cup games draw near.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM start right now.


HOWELL: At 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, the Trump administration scrambling to follow U.S. court orders to reunite some 3,000 migrant children with their families. The deadline was Friday. The U.S. government was supposed to have made sure that every separated parent had a way to contact their child.

A government attorney says she believes they met that goal but says an upcoming deadline for Tuesday, well, that will be trickier. That is when officials must reunify every child under the age of 5 years old with their parent. By then, on July 26th, every family must be reunited.

As the deadlines approach, U.S. officials say they need more time. Our Miguel Marquez explains.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lesvia, she's 39 from Guatemala. She may be the first separated parent to get out of detention after going through a normal immigration process, after President Trump signed an executive order ending the separation of families as part of his zero tolerance policy. "I can't stand being apart from my son," she says. "Just give me my son."

Lesvia hasn't seen her 10-year-old son, Udam (ph), since May 19th. She even wrote him a letter. She believes her son is in the same Brownsville facility visited by the DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week.

"The deportation officers told me I had to leave and go to Florida to be with my family," she says, "but I am not leaving without my son." Her uncertainty about how to get her son back is a sign that parents who are released even by the administration don't have a clear process for reuniting with their children.

A woman named Ada being held at Port Isobel Detention Center in South Texas says in a phone call to CNN she's not sure where her son is and the promise of two calls a week have never happened.

"No one has called," she says. "Social workers don't answer our calls. I'm desperate. I want to know how my son. I want to talk to him."

By a federal judge's order, the Trump administration has to put detained parents in regular contact with their kids. Parents and lawyers representing them say most have had at least one phone call. Some speak regularly; others not at all.

It is not clear the administration will meet other deadlines, like reuniting kids 4 and under with their parents by next Tuesday. A delegation from El Salvador visited their citizens in detention at Port Isobel yesterday. One mother had this stunning claim.

"Some parents still don't know exactly where their children are," he says. "A mother here only knows her 3-year old is somewhere in New York."

In documents filed in federal court, the government says it is trying to verify parentage through DNA tests and likely won't make deadlines to reunite all families.

MARQUEZ: So the woman at the top of that story, Lesvia, the woman from Guatemala, she is looking for her 10-year-old son. She just got out of detention in the last 48 hours. She was in a town called Taylor, Texas, about five and a half hours from where we are in Brownsville.

She believes very strongly that her son is in this facility here in Brownsville and she wants to come here. She has been trying to work with HHS. They basically said, you should go to your family in Florida and wait.

She doesn't want to do that. She wants to stay here. She's been trying to deal with HHS; can't get any satisfaction, basically. She wants to come here, knock on that door, try to see her son, hug her son and reunite with him -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Navid Dayzad, an immigration attorney, joining us from Los Angeles.

A pleasure to have you with us. We've seen one deadline pass. A series of others on the horizon but still no hard numbers --


HOWELL: -- on exactly what is happening.

Do you have confidence in what the government is saying?

NAVID DAYZAD, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: I don't have confidence in what the government is saying and neither does the judge, frankly. We are just days away from the next important deadline.

And the government has come to court asking for more time, saying and conceding that it cannot meet the deadlines that have already been set by the court. It has also revealed that it is upped its estimate to now about 3,000 children who are still separated from their parents.

And of these 3,000 children, George, there are 100 who are under the age of 5.

HOWELL: This number, about 3,000, quite frankly, just not good enough, right?

We need to know exact numbers. As journalists, we will continue to push to find out what those exact numbers are.

But as an attorney yourself, what recourse do you have to demand accountability and transparency here?

DAYZAD: Well, we demand account ability through the courts. And the courts have to keep the administration accountable, as it has been doing.

Today in the hearing, the government also revealed that of these 100 children under the age of 5, about 16 of them, 16 of them the government has no idea who their parents are or how to reunite them.

We need to keep them accountable by litigating and holding the administration accountable for this chaos it has created for itself.

HOWELL: Let's talk specifically though about the limited rights quite frankly that people have when they cross the border seeking asylum.

Or if they try to cross the border illegally, what rights do they have?

DAYZAD: They have a lot of rights as protected under the Constitution. They have the right to due process. Basically that means fairness. That means we will apply our laws fairly. It means we won't tear your kids away from your arms. It means when you show up at our borders and apply for asylum

lawfully, we will hear your case and we will give you a chance to prove your fear and determine whether you meet the requirements for asylum or not.

HOWELL: How difficult though is it, from what you've seen so far, to reconnect these children with their parents?

DAYZAD: It is incredibly difficult and that is only because the government has been disorganized and has not been foreseeing the difficulties of reuniting these children.

When 20 of the parents of these 100 toddlers have already been deported to another country, while their kids remain here in the hands of the U.S. government, it is not an easy feat to make this reunification happen.

HOWELL: As a nation of laws, though, people who support the president's approach here, they would say that if you break the law as a U.S. citizen, you run the risk of having your child separated from you.

What say you to that argument about what we're seeing here, when people cross the border illegally or if they seek asylum and they find themselves in this situation?

DAYZAD: That is a good analogy. Let's talk about that.

The criminal charge for these people is a misdemeanor. It is equivalent to a low-level shoplifting charge. And what the government has been doing, with their zero tolerance policy, has decided that, hey, we're going to criminally prosecute every single one of these people who have committed the misdemeanor crime of an improper entry.

And by doing so, the government has conceded that they are siphoning away resources from the true threats, from the smugglers that are also crossing our border and need to be apprehended and prosecuting those people who have much more serious -- present much more serious dangers to our community.

HOWELL: And do you get a sense right now that people are getting due process or are people being denied due process still?

DAYZAD: Clearly, the people are still being denied due process, when we have these families still separated and the government unable to meet the court-ordered deadline to reunify these families.

There is no due process when these families remain separated. There is no due process when people, who are fleeing for safety for their lives, like me and my family, show up to the United States, hoping for a helping hand and, instead, are shown a fist and are shown a detention center and no justice.

HOWELL: Navid Dayzad, thank you so much for your time and perspective. We'll keep in touch with you.

DAYZAD: My pleasure.

HOWELL: Now to the U.S. --


HOWELL: -- secretary of state Mike Pompeo in North Korea this hour, his third trip to Pyongyang. Pompeo met with senior North Korean officials for two days.

But the burning question here, will there be more clarity on exactly what North Korea is willing to do on the issue of denuclearization and also the issue of returning the remains of U.S. troops killed in Korean War?

Andrew Stevens is following the story for us, live in Seoul, South Korea.

Andrew, holding meetings is one thing. But what comes out of that meeting, that is what is more important.

Is there any indication that Pompeo is making any headway?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: There is no clear indication of what headway he has made. We're getting a few lines from a State Department spokesman, who is traveling with Pompeo. They were speaking to the pool which is accompanying the U.S. delegation in Pyongyang.

And the spokesman says that the secretary of state has been very firm in his conversations; this is with Kim Yong-chol, the right-hand man to Kim Jong-un, who has been leading the North Korean side of the negotiations so far.

The State Department goes on to say that Mr. Pompeo has raised every element of the agreement made between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore. It includes complete denuclearization, security assurances and the repatriation of U.S. remains of military service people killed in the Korean War in the early 1950s.

These issues have been brought up. But as yet we don't know what has been concluded, what has been decided, if anything at all. There is a lot of pressure on Mike Pompeo to come away from Pyongyang with something. Now we know that the remains of those servicemen has been discussed.

And Mike Pompeo had made reference to that before. But other than that, he has talked quite vaguely in many ways about, you know, basically filling in the gaps of the issues that were agreed upon at that June summit and that was the key takeaway from that, obviously both sides, the U.S. and North Korea, working toward full denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

But at this stage, we don't know what the details are, is there going to be a timeline? Unlikely.

Will there be a list of North Korean nuclear material, weapon, its program, so the U.S. can start verifying what it actually has got?

We don't know about that, either. But Mike Pompeo is due in Tokyo in a few hours to brief his counterparts from South Korea and Japan on what was discussed. So we may get more details in the coming hours.

HOWELL: Andrew Stevens, live for us in Seoul, thank you for the reporting.

America's trade disputes have reached new heights with an all-out trade war with China. Beijing says it had no choice but to respond, placing tariffs on $34 billion worth of American goods, just after the U.S. levied an identical tariff.

All of this happening as the U.S. is fighting with Canada, fighting with Mexico, fighting with the European Union over steel and aluminum imports. But with China, analysts say neither country will likely back down anytime soon.

Let's go live to Beijing. CNN's Steven Jiang is following the story for us.

Steven, both nations trying to target these tariffs in specific sectors to make a real impact here.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That's right. Both sides' lists are not randomly selected, they were carefully considered and decided. If you look at the U.S. list, President Trump is clearly going after China's high-tech industries, which he says have been benefitting tremendously through unfair trade practices like stealing intellectual property or forcing American companies to hand over technologies to their Chinese partners.

On the Chinese side, you will notice a lot of agricultural products, soybean is a big one but also pork, beef and tobacco. Obviously the U.S. sells a lot of these things to China. But another reason for that, according to many analysts, is these things tend to grow or be produced in states where a lot of people voted for Donald Trump, where he continues to enjoy strong political support, despite being a controversial president nationwide.

So the Chinese government is being very politically savvy here, according to many experts. They are hitting the American farmers economically, likely hoping to turn them against the U.S. president and forcing him to change course on his trade policy.

Now whether or not that would work remains to be seen. But that approach has been compared to Chinese acupuncture, where you, you know, insert these needles very precisely into somebody's body by twisting or squeezing the needle just a little, it could --


JIANG: -- exert maximum pressure or pain, presumably on Donald Trump in this case.

HOWELL: OK, Steven, as we talk about twisting the needle, what is the concern there in China, given that that nation certainly looking to be a leader in AI, in the tech sector?

And it seems the United States also targeting very specifically there.

JIANG: That's right. But publicly the Chinese government actually has toned down their rhetoric on the so-called Made in China 2025 plan. That is the plan that Trump has repeatedly attacked, saying the Chinese are handing out subsidies to prop up their industries.

And this is the kind of industrial policy Donald Trump considers part of unfair trade practices.

But on the short term, tariffs, the Chinese are actually at disadvantage here because they buy a lot less from the U.S. than the other way around. So presumably they can run out of things to tariff soon. That is why experts worried about the prospect Chinese launching nontariff means against American business interests here.

That is increasingly worrying a lot more people.

HOWELL: And one difference, though, with acupuncture, isn't it supposed to relieve pressure?

Because it seems that a trade war has only increased that pressure. Steven Jiang, thank you so much for the reporting. We'll see where this goes. Thank you.

Still ahead, the storm clouds swirling around the White House; from immigration deadlines that it won't meet to new details in the Russia probe, there is a lot to talk about. We're following the latest for you.

Plus this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm not blaming the Wild Boars team for his death because what is destined to happen, it will happen.

HOWELL (voice-over): More from the father of a former Thai Navy SEAL, who died during rescue efforts. Why many others there face a critical next few days to try to safe a youth football team.

Around the world and in the U.S., You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.






(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I only had one child. I was extremely proud of him and his deeds. But seeing him ending up like -- I'm really upset.

HOWELL (voice-over): A family mourns as a nation vows the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL wasn't in vain. That was the father that you just heard of Saman Gunan, a diver, who died on Friday, taking part in efforts to help evacuate the youth football team that has been trapped in a flooded cave.


HOWELL: The 12 boys and their coach have been underground now for two weeks. They have sent letters to their families. And Thai Navy SEALs are posting those notes to social media.

Let's go live to Northern Thailand. CNN's David McKenzie is at the scene of the rescue effort.

David, first of all, the simple fact that it is not raining heavily behind you right now is very key for these crews, trying to make the best and the most of their time.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It means that the window is still open. They want to get this done, one feels, before the monsoon rain or even before substantial rain lashes the mountains behind me because the boys have been trapped now in that cave system for 15 days.

If the rain really dumps down, experts say, they could be flooded. The leader of the command team saying that, in fact, they could just have a 10 square-meter space left in it continues.

And, of course, the currents would increase and the difficulty of getting them out in an already extremely difficult rescue would just increase.

Now there is a feeling here that we are moving toward a resolution one way or the other of this extraordinary rescue effort. There is a team of international divers in place; the leadership saying that the skill of those divers is key here and the mental state of those boys also key because, if they manage not to panic and if they can pull them in this buddy system, through these tight cabins, there is the chance that they can get them all out safely.

But it is an extraordinarily difficult and challenging environment. The leaders say that it's a rescue that has never been attempted. Nothing quite like this ever before.

HOWELL: So it does seem that this window that you describe is certainly informing the pressure on these teams to move and to try to make this evacuation as quickly as possible and safely as possible.

Of course, David, look, the world is watching with a great deal of concern. One can only imagine what it is like to be a parent of any of these children. But we're starting to hear from some of the children. Tell us more about that.

MCKENZIE: That's right. They took in notebooks and scraps of paper. And the boys sent very touching notes to everybody out here and to their family, of course. And it just shows how young they are and the things that they were talking about.

The whole group wrote they want to avoid homework when they get out; they want good food and a whole variety of food but that their spirits are generally up. I just want to share two with our viewers.

From Deu (ph) -- that's his nickname -- it says, "Don't worry, Dad, Mum. Deu (ph) has just disappeared for only two weeks. I will help Mum sell every time I have a free day now when I get back. I will rush to get back."

And this from Dham (ph), "I'm fine. The weather is quite cold. Don't forget my birthday.:

And Dham's birthday was just a few days ago inside that cabin. They have had to reduce the amount of people in there with the boys because of the critical oxygen levels. And I think that, coupled with the impending rain, there is a feeling that this is possibly the best time to get the boys out. But when they do, it will be incredibly hazardous.

HOWELL: David McKenzie, thank you for the reporting.

As David mentioned, rain, flooding and low oxygen levels are key in this rescue. Our Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The only way air moves in and out of most caves is by a change of temperature on the ground above. And that would be true here as well.

However, when you go two and a half miles --


FOREMAN: -- in and more than a half-mile down, there will be virtually no effect from that. For practical purposes, these boys and their coach are in a sealed chamber, where the air is running low, if not running out.

How low?

They should be getting 21 percent oxygen in every breath. Right now they are repeatedly down to about 15 percent. That means there is decreased stability to work strenuously. They have impaired coordination. You might not think very clearly and, in some cases, they may have decreased vision in low light.

It is not necessarily permanent and they are bringing oxygen tanks in so that may help. But it is worrisome. In the meantime, outside, they are trying to pump all this water away

and they're making some progress. Currently they're getting more than 400,000 gallons out per hour. That's two-thirds of an Olympic-size swimming pool. The idea is maybe you can open some narrow gap and get some of these kids out quickly.

But what we are seeing from inside this cave, from the maps we see, is that there are still several areas that are very flooded, where the kids would absolutely have to go through in scuba gear, for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, more. We just don't know. It's a big ask and it is not getting any better.

Think about it: everything they have been pumping out now has been water that showed since the kids went into the cave. They've had actually a little lull here without much rain. But much more rain is coming and there's no indication that these pumps can keep up with it.

For all of that though, the single biggest issue here continues to be the topography of the cave. Yes, there are strong currents and it's cold and they can't see. But there are areas here that are so small only one person at a time can go through. The divers are even taking their tanks off and pulling them behind them.

That is why it's so hard to get supplies in and out. That's why you can't really even have a serious discussion about trying to lay a pipe over all this distance to take air in. And imagine trying to pull a frightened, exhausted teenager through that underwater.

It's a 6-hour journey from the outside in for even experienced divers. Engineers are saying basically that should be used as nothing but a supply line right now and they should start pounding in from above with some kind of small supply opening to drop food and fresh water through and to pump air in and simply keep these boys alive until they can figure out how to free them.


HOWELL: Tom Foreman with the technical challenges of this risky rescue. We'll be right back after this.





HOWELL: Coast to coast, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines.


HOWELL: According to a "New York Times" report, President Trump's lawyer says if Mueller wants to sit down, have an interview with Mr. Trump, he will have to meet two conditions. One of those conditions, Mueller's team must have evidence that the president committed a crime. And they must prove the president's testimony is necessary to close out the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump's lawyer admitted to "The New York Times" that there is not much of a chance that Mueller would agree to those demands.

Let's talk more about this now with James Davis, dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Galen, live for us via Skype from Munich, Germany.

James, a lot to talk about for sure. But let's start with the proposed deal that is being floated from the president's around the table, suggesting Mueller needs to prove the president committed a crime to get an interview.

What are the chances that Mueller's team going for something like that?

JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALEN: It is a good question. I doubt that Mueller would accept the terms. I think this is an effort by Mr. Giuliani and the team of the president to try to continue to undermine the Mueller investigation, to discredit the Mueller investigation, to now suggest that the Mueller investigation need -- Mueller needs to already more or less prove that there was a crime committed before the president would be willing to talk to him.

I mean, what the investigation is all about is trying to collect the facts. If the president can contribute to the collection of facts, he should. He has indicated in the past he is more than willing to discuss this with the special counsel.

So I'm wondering what has changed, why is the president now concerned and arguing that he doesn't really need to testify, unless there is proof that there has been a crime?

HOWELL: That's certainly a question to be raised with all this. Let's pivot now, let's talk about immigration.

The government struggling to manage these deadlines to reunite families with their children.

What do you make of how they are going about this process so far?

And the big picture here, the optics of their inability to give us solid numbers of what's happening?

DAVIS: This is once again an example that this administration is more swagger than substance. There has been an incompetent process from the beginning. Zero tolerance has not been thought through.

We do a better job in the United States of tracking the property, the personal property, of accused criminals and people that are arrested than we are of tracking human beings, children.

This is unacceptable. It is unacceptable from any administration but it's certainly unacceptable from this administration, that has claimed that it is going to enforce the laws of the country in a serious and competent way. They are showing incredible incompetence. It's unacceptable and the courts are not accepting it, either.


DAVIS: The president is under a court order to return these children to their families. And if he saw this as a priority, I can't believe it couldn't be done, with all the assets that the United States government could bring to bear on that.

HOWELL: Finally, I want to talk about the changes at the EPA, the scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt out. To replace him, the former coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, in as the new acting head of that agency.

But let's take a look back at Wheeler during a Senate confirmation hearing last November, Wheeler speaking about the issue of climate change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was anything happening when you climbed Kilimanjaro there that relates to fossil fuel emissions?

ANDREW WHEELER, EPA DIRECTOR: The air is very thin. But if you are referring to the glacier on top of --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking you, was anything happening on Kilimanjaro?



WHEELER: The glacier was -- is still there on top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not answering my question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe human activity is driving the temperature increases on the planet?

WHEELER: I believe that man has an impact on the climate but what is not completely understood is what the impact is.


HOWELL: The new head of the EPA.

Given that response, what does that say to you about what can be expected about what can be expected of Wheeler's approach at leading this agency?

DAVIS: Well, I think we'll see more of the same. You know, Mr. Pruitt was clearly in bed with industry. His replacement is of the same ilk. This is an administration that has shown itself to be anything but about draining the swamp. I mean the president ran on draining the swamp.

But it seems more as if the swamp monsters have taken control of the government. And it is that way, whether we look at the EPA, whether we look at the president's own enrichment of him and his family during this administration, whether we look at the recent charges against the Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, for insider trading, whether we see the obvious corruption of Mr. Manafort in running the campaign.

I mean, this is a bunch of grifters, who have taken over the United States government and the standard that has been established over many generations of administrations has just been violated time and time again.

There are no ethics in this administration and that is what the American people are going to have to come to terms with.

HOWELL: James Davis, thank you so much for your time and perspective. We'll stay in touch with you.

DAVIS: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: In the United Kingdom, British police are ramping up their search for the source of a second contamination of the nerve agent Novichok, this time after a couple was poisoned in Southern England last week. The victims are in critical condition. Our Erin McLaughlin reports from Amesbury, England.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last time we see Dawn Sturgess and Charley Rowley before they fell ill, exposed to a deadly nerve agent. CNN exclusively obtained this footage of the couple, arriving at a corner shop near Sturgess' home in Salisbury. It is timestamped Friday, June 29th, 9:54 pm.

You see Sturgess walking in; her boyfriend, Rowley, waits outside, drinking from a bottle. She picks up four cans of beer and two bottles of wine, pays the cashier, then leaves with Rowley.

MCLAUGHLIN: This is the shop where the couple bought alcohol before continuing into the night. You can see just over that way, the street where Dawn Sturgess lives, currently cordoned off by police. It is unclear where the couple went next exactly but the footage shows them walking in this direction, toward the center of town, where, four months ago, a former Russian spy and his daughter were found poisoned by Novichok nerve agent.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Authorities confirm the couple was exposed to the same substance, listed as a weapon of mass destruction by the U.N. The leading line of inquiry that they handled the contaminated item somehow connected to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter though authorities have yet to establish a direct link.

Most concerning right now: authorities have not located the contaminated item, retracing Rowley and Sturgess' steps from that Friday, critical to the investigation.

A friend told local media, earlier they visited stores in Salisbury, bought some food and purchased a blanket from a local charity shop. Midday surveillance footage catches Sturgess making an alcohol run in the center of town before the couple and their friend enjoyed the evening drinking at a park in Salisbury that is now cordoned off.

They spent the night at Rowley's home in Amesbury. By 11:00 am the next morning, Sturgess was critically ill. By 3:30 pm --


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): -- Rowley was in a similar state.

Now forensic experts have moved in to scour Rowley's home, looking for clues to solve this mystery. Even a small trace of this nerve agent can be deadly.


HOWELL: And CNN's Erin McLaughlin is joining us live this hour from Salisbury, England.

Erin, given what we've seen of this couple, tell us about the mood of people in and around that town, as people and investigators continue looking for clues.

MCLAUGHLIN: George, people here are extremely concerned. I was speaking to one woman just a few days ago, who said she no longer believes that Salisbury is a safe place to raise her children. So you definitely get a sense of anxiety here on the streets of this city, as well as the village of Amesbury, which is some nine miles away.

People telling me they are extremely concerned that authorities don't seem to have a handle on the situation, just warning last night that it could take weeks, even months to figure out the source of the contamination.

For example, the corner shop where we obtained that surveillance footage of the couple, just hours before they fell ill, we were speaking yesterday to the owner of that corner shop. And he said that two investigators walked into the shop, demanding that footage hours after it aired on CNN.

So very clear that authorities still scrambling, working to piece together exactly where this couple was. And so there is a concern here that someone else could get sick.

HOWELL: Erin McLaughlin, live for us in Salisbury, thank you. We'll keep in touch with you as the investigation continues.

Still ahead, whether they are ready or not, a hurricane is nearing the Caribbean. The storm-battered island of Puerto Rico is rushing to prepare.




HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

In Japan, almost 2 million people have been told they will need to leave their homes because of torrential rain and flooding.


HOWELL (voice-over): Take a look now at these dramatic images, they show damaged roads, destroyed homes. Shows how devastation has been caused by this record rainfall there. We understand that at least eight people have died.

Japan's weather agency says there is more to come throughout the weekend, though. It has upgraded its warning to the highest level in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.


HOWELL: The governor of Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Beryl. Residents rushed to stores, you see the people scrambling there to that Costco, stocking up on food and water. The pain from last year's devastating hurricane season is still certainly fresh in their minds.


HOWELL: Look, World Cup action, the beers are certainly on ice. The fans cannot wait for two more quarterfinals in Russia. And fair to say all of England will likely come to a standstill when their team take the pitch against Sweden on Saturday.

I can imagine Kate Riley smiling somewhere. We'll have that ahead. Stay with us.






HOWELL: A stunned Brazil humbled in Russia. The five-time World Cup champs crashed out of the tournament on Friday, outbattled by Belgium. And as expected, there were celebrations in Brussels after the Red Devils put on a winning show.

And a similar scene on the streets of Paris defeating Uruguay 2-0. So now it is France and Belgium set to meet in the semifinals next Tuesday in St. Petersburg. Let's go live to Samarra, Russia. "WORLD SPORT's" Amanda Davies following this all.

Amanda, a stunning performance from Belgium last night.

What has been the key to their success so far in this tournament?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, George, I'm not sure there is a team who -- we've used that phrase "dark horses" with more in recent times than Belgium. Such an array of talent across the board with their players, the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne.

But the feeling is, in recent tournaments, they just haven't managed to create a team ethos from their individual talents. And they have really been accused of underachieving and not having the mental toughness that the big top teams need.

Last night against Brazil, they absolutely laid those criticisms to rest and stepped up absolutely when it mattered against Brazil. Of course, (INAUDIBLE) we often hear the phrase five-time World Cup champions, many people's pre-tournaments favorites.

And they really put in such a performance that they made Brazil look pretty average. Brazil had 27 chances they just couldn't convert. Their star players, likes of Neymar and Philippe Coutinho didn't get the time on the ball they needed. They didn't get the opportunities to finish it off.

And Belgium really stuck to their game plan and played some absolutely fantastic football. Take nothing away from Brazil, it was absolutely a match worthy of a World Cup quarterfinal, arguably a final. Two fantastic teams with so much talent --


DAVIES: -- across the board.

But this Belgium side really have stepped up. Maybe it is just simply a matter of age and experience. Many of their players are in their late 20s; they have done a number of major tournaments, not quite taken that big step forward. Now they have. But no easy opposition waiting in the next round in France.

HOWELL: Amanda, very quickly, England in action later against Sweden, and there is a real belief the World Cup could be coming back to that country.

How realistic is that?


DAVIES: I'm trying not to get too excited, George. There are loads of England fans that have been descending here on the banks of the River Volga over the last 24 hours. Apparently more so than we saw in Moscow for their last game against Colombia, when a few fans had actually been put off traveling.

But you have to say hopes are very high. People are getting excited, given the manner of that victory. And I don't mean the way they played against Colombia because that wasn't that great. The fact the match went to 90 minutes and then extra time.

It was the fact that finally England got that monkey off their backs, finally winning a World Cup penalty shootout. The way the team reacted to that, what it will have done for morale. And given the fact this team so relatively unheralded and young, with an inexperienced manager in Gareth Southgate.

People are starting to dream with the prospect of facing Russia or Croatia in the next round. It doesn't get much easier at this stage in a World Cup on paper. Sweden won't be any pushovers, though. They themselves want to write their own chapter in history.

But, yes, certainly a lot of England fans here getting excited. I'm trying to remain very professional at all times though -- George.

HOWELL: Amanda Davies, thank you so much. We'll watch it.

And thank you for watching NEWSROOM this hour. More news from around the world after the break.