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Operation Begins to Extract Thai Football Team; Catastrophic Rainfall, Historic Flooding in Japan; California Wildfires; World Cup 2018. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 8, 2018 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): At 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast we're following the breaking news out of Thailand, the rescue effort underway to extract 12 boys and the their coach from a cave system, trapped there now for two weeks.

I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters here in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers.

A local governor calls this D-Day, a high-risk operation that kicked off just a few hours ago and right now Thai and international divers are racing against the clock. They're trying to beat the weather there with more rain clouds moving in and the dropping oxygen level in those caves also giving reason to take this move right now.

The mission could take days before everyone is out of the cave. An entire nation is ready for that team to come home. Let's get the very latest live from Northern Thailand. David McKenzie is near the scene.

David, you've been following this for some time. We've been watching the clouds behind you that's informed these teams pushing now to take advantage of this window now before heavy rains set in.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. Deep inside that mountain, where you see those heavy clouds, is that cave system, where the boys have been held up.

Now it is the moment that everyone appears to be dreading, hoping for and certainly praying for when it comes to the families that want to see their young boys and that coach out safely.

And the latest, George, from a Thai Navy source, who says that the first people who will get to those boys to start taking them out will be the two British cave specialists and Thai divers with them.

They will go from the chamber three, the sort of command post within that cave system. They've managed to take a lot of the water out of that section of the cave but there are still areas that are dangerously flooded. The boys will, unfortunately, have to dive with those full-face masks

through that dangerous, dangerous territory, sometimes squeezing through without any visibility.

This is an incredible rescue, D-Day, as the governor called it. I want to share this poignant photo posted on social media by the Thai Navy, the Thai SEAL teams.

They say "We, Thai Navy SEALs, along with the international diver team, are ready to bring the soccer team home."

It's an incredible international effort. Experts from around the globe here, hoping, praying to get these boys out -- George.

HOWELL: And David, we can't forget the fact that a former Thai Navy SEAL died, lost his life in an effort, of course, to be part of this process, to get these boys and the coach out of this cave. That certainly underscores the difficulty and danger involved in the operation that is underway now.

MCKENZIE: Well, that's right. The 38-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL gave his life to this rescue effort. It really underlined the danger of getting these boys out.

But as you can see, George, the clouds behind me, it's been raining on and off for a few hours and it will get only worse, as say the local authorities here. They say, if they have to wait to make this difficult decision, then they might have to start all over again because sections of that cave could flood.

And then you might be in the monsoon and that window could close. Several times, a number of the specialist teams have said it's those British divers that originally found the boys against all odds, frankly, who are the most experienced in these cave extractions, this cave diving that is very different from any other kind of rescue dives.

But there are U.S. soldiers here; there are Australians, British and Chinese military specialists, alongside their Thai counterparts, trying to get this done.

Now the road behind me is most likely the route where the ambulance will come when the boys are taken out; depending on their physical state, they will rush them down that road to a nearby hospital, where they are already getting ready to welcome them.

It could still take several hours before we know if the first boy -- and they will take them in stages because of the nature of the extraction -- makes it out and how he's doing.

HOWELL: And of course, David, as we keep pointing out, the weather certainly important. Our Derek Van Dam will be on deck in a moment to update us on that. David, thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

I want to get a little context on all this now. [04:05:00]

HOWELL: Let's bring in Bill Whitehouse. Bill is the vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, which has rescuers on the ground there and joining us now.

Bill, let's start by talking about what your crews are telling you about the challenges of pulling such an extensive rescue operation off. The weather, the caves they'll have to traverse and the technical challenges of the dives that they'll face.

BILL WHITEHOUSE, BRITISH CAVE RESCUE COUNCIL: There's no doubt that what's just started is an extremely difficult and very dangerous operation, not only for the boys, of course but for the divers undertaking it as well.

We know that from the tragedy the other day with the Thai Navy SEAL, who died in operations in there. Obviously there's a -- it's a long stretch of passage over a couple of kilometers, where many areas are completely flooded but with some areas above water.

Now we have no detailed knowledge of the dive plan. But clearly we've been thinking about it and talking with the people over there. So we know a broad range of options as to what -- how things might be done. But we don't know exactly how it is being done.

Clearly there are -- there are 13 to get out and they're not all coming out at the same time, they're going to have to be staged out.

When you think of the logistics to the numbers of people and the space, simply to get people through under the water, it's very, very probably going to take a number of days.

HOWELL: OK. That's --

WHITEHOUSE: They've got -- you know, obviously it's complete darkness, poor visibility in the water because of the suspended sediment in the water; constrictions and the torturous nature of the passages. And the size of some of the passages, it's not like a simple tunnel, one-dimensional like in, say, in a mine or something like that, it changes shape almost continuously.

HOWELL: Bill, I want to get a sense from you, because we're looking at video as you're explaining all of this, we're looking at exactly what you're talking about. We see what it's like for these crews to be in that cave.

We see the wet and rugged terrain that they'll have to face, we see the water that they'll have to dive into. No visibility in that water. Look, two questions for you.

This is a danger to the rescuers, right?

It's certainly putting their lives on the line to do this and certainly a danger for these young children, some of whom cannot swim, keeping in mind, that they have not been able to really eat a decent meal in several days now. Talk to us about the risks and the dangers.

WHITEHOUSE: I mean, well, you've got -- first off, you've got a team there that's been collected, together, probably, amongst best cave divers in the world. They're used to dealing in these circumstances.

So personally they are taking risk, because all cave diving is a risk. If anything happens to your kit or something all goes wrong whilst you're in the flooded passage, you can only reach the free surface by returning back down that passage, unlike open water diving, where you can drop your weight belt normally and then surface.

So, yes, they've got all those dangers but they are used to dealing with those. The boys, it's a tricky ask of the boys for them to go through this. But there now appears to be little choice.

HOWELL: Bill, I have another question I want to get to you.


HOWELL: I think we have a minute or two more but I want to get a sense from the water that I see there. There's so much water in these caves. And these crews have been able to pump out as substantial amount of water.

How important will that be when it comes to pulling these children out, the fact that the water levels have dropped, and getting them out before the rains come in?

WHITEHOUSE: Yes, I mean, I've no detailed information about the water levels in there at the moment. But certainly the pumping operation that's been taking place has lowered levels, certainly in parts of the system.

In the entrance, you know, in the entrance part of the cave, it's certainly made things easier. And apparently it's possible to walk some of the distance that previously had to have dived. How much effect that's had further in the system, I'm unsure about. Frankly, they had this hydrology is a bit -- is very complicated. So what --


WHITEHOUSE: -- drains out of one part of the cave might not necessarily have a direct affect on another part. I can't -- I have no information to pass comments on that. But it can only help getting water out. If it does nothing else, it might mean that the current in the water is lessened, which would be a help.

HOWELL: Right.

WHITEHOUSE: So you know, it can only be a good thing. They've still got to come through a number of dives; you know, two, three 100-meter dives without a free air surface. Terrific risk. There are a number ways they can do it.

I have no idea which way they're doing it and there's talk about teaching the boys to dive with equipment and getting them to swim out under guidance.

But in those conditions, what guidance could be given?

HOWELL: That's the biggest question, quite honestly. It's really going to be a matter of just kind of going with the moment, I would imagine, Bill.

WHITEHOUSE: Yes. I think more likely what they're doing is toward the other end of the scale, which is somehow immobilizing the boys with breathing apparatus on. And at the extreme is being talk of the possibility of tranquilizing them, and then bringing them out as a sort of inert package, diving them out, pushing and pulling them out in a state where they can't -- they're not in a position to panic and thrash around and maybe dislodge their own breathing apparatus.

HOWELL: That's the biggest concern, Bill. We're going to have to see how this plays out, as you point out, could be a matter of days to watch this operation play out. Thank you so much for your time today and we'll keep in touch with you.

WHITEHOUSE: You're welcome.


HOWELL: You're watching breaking news coverage here on CNN. We'll continue to bring you the latest as these divers move in to save 12 boys and their coach -- ahead.

Also this hour, scenes of devastation in Japan. Water rising. We'll hear why they're not quite out of the woods yet. Stay with us.





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

They attended the same meetings in Pyongyang to nail down details on the issue of denuclearization. But the difference in how the U.S. and North Korea see these talking points, they are striking.

The U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo calls the talks productive, saying progress was made.

Compare that to what we're hearing from North Korea, slamming what it called the United States' gangster-like mindset. It used words like regrettable and worrisome. Speaking to reporters a few hours ago in Tokyo, Pompeo pushed back.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm counting on Chairman Kim to be determined to follow through on the commitment that he made. And so, if those requests were gangster-like, they are -- the world is a gangster because there was a unanimous decision at the U.N. Security Council about what needs to be achieved.


HOWELL: Our Andrew Stevens has been trying to keep up with these two very different stories. Live this hour from Seoul, South Korea.

Andrew, Pompeo making it clear also, sanctions on North Korea will remain until denuclearization is complete.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: And that pretty much goes to the nub of what the North Koreans seem to be angry about, George. The fact that the North Koreans believe that there should be simultaneous step-by-step concessions made as they go forward in this whole denuclearization process.

And obviously the North Koreans would very much like to see one of those steps include easing of sanctions as they go toward but before they attain that full denuclearization. And Mike Pompeo very clearly ruling that out, saying, as we heard there, it is a U.N. Security Council resolution that there has to be full, verifiable denuclearization before the sanctions are lifted.

Maximum pressure will be maintained. So Mike Pompeo also said, George, that he was at that meeting.


STEVENS: And at that meeting, the North Koreans very clearly recommitted to full denuclearization on the peninsula.

Now what we heard from North Korea following the meetings was, you know, it was obviously angry, they were threatening that -- their willingness to engage in these talks at all could falter, that the U.S. was using obsolete and outdated modes of negotiations, et cetera, et cetera.

But Mike Pompeo said they've made a very clear commitment. I was at that meeting. We are going ahead. Those talks were productive, Pompeo said, were productive. And he points to the fact that there's a movement on getting the remains of U.S. service men back to the U.S.

There will be a meeting at the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, next week on that between the North and U.S. And also there are -- there's talk about how they're going to dismantle, destroy a nuclear -- sorry, not a nuclear -- a missile engine testing facility.

So he's saying, yes, there is some movement and they're moving ahead. It is, though, George, going to be a very, very slow process. Some people say this is just a North Korean negotiating tactic really, to keep U.S. sort of on edge and maybe try and seek some concessions, although the two principals in all of this, Donald Trump and Kim Jong- un, exchanged letters. The North Koreans said that Kim's letter included a line that he still respected and trusted Donald Trump. So there is that level of senior level, where there does seem to be still this willingness to push forward.

HOWELL: All right. Andrew Stevens, thank you so much. Live for us in Seoul, South Korea.

Let's put this in context now with Gina Reinhardt, a senior lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of Essex, joining from Essex, England.

A pleasure to have you here on the show. Want to talk about several issues that are U.S. politics. Let's start with North Korea.

On June 13th, many people remember President Trump declaring there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Those are the president's words. Compare that statement to the pushback we're hearing from North Korea after these meetings with the U.S. secretary of state, saying the U.S. is mistaken to think the demands of their robber mentality are acceptable to our patience.

Doesn't seem like North Korea quite on board.

GINA REINHARDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: No, it doesn't. I think what we're looking at here is the product of a couple of leaders, who like to have big shows. Normally, when the leaders of two countries announce that a decision has been made or an agreement has been reached, they do it after months of negotiations between their top diplomats.

In this case, the announcement was made but no negotiations had actually taken place. So now those negotiations are underway and they're difficult and they take a long time.

The announcement was premature. There was simply no actual agreement on methods, on timing, on exactly what would take place. And now we're watching those details get hammered out and it's frustrating.

HOWELL: Those details, it reminds me of an old statement in Texas, all hat and no cattle. The details seem to be a sticking point right now, that weren't really worked out before.

I want to pivot now to the other drama here in the United States, the government's inability to meet deadlines to reunite families that it separated at the U.S. border. Tuesday marks another deadline, this to reunite migrant parents with kids under the age of 5.

And we still don't have any specific numbers of how many families we're actually talking about.

Do you see government's efforts to meet these deadlines?

Do you think that will happen this week?

Will we see more of the same?

Will there be more transparency?

REINHARDT: I don't know. The short answer is, no, I don't think they're going meet their deadlines and I don't think there's going to be a lot more transparency.

Again, we can go to our theme of details here. There was an executive order issued without any details of how to follow through. And this was the order of zero tolerance of families coming in at the border.

Two agencies were tasked with dealing with these families. And we all know that complete chaos ensued. And it resulted in the separation of, what estimates appear to be right now, at least 3,000 children that are still separated from their parents.

The fact is that, given the fact that we don't want to hand children over to liars or to criminals or to child traffickers, there has to be a lot of vetting that takes place before children are returned to their parents.

And there's no way that that can be accomplished by Tuesday's deadline or even the small number that are under the age of 5 or by the deadline of the 26th --


REINHARDT: -- for the larger number. We're talking about thousands of kids and more parents than children. And they're all over the country.

HOWELL: All right. Want to talk about what will be a major success for the U.S. president, picking the next member of the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. vice president had meetings with three of the strongest contenders. But the common denominator among all of these contenders is they are all very conservative.

Given what we know about them, Gina, where does this put issues like abortion, LGBT rights and others?

REINHARDT: This puts a lot of these issues in jeopardy. It's very interesting because the abortion issue is something that really mobilizes the conservative ideological base. Doing away with Roe v. Wade would also do away with that tool to mobilize the conservative ideological base.

So it's a dicey issue for strategically minded Republicans, who can use that issue to -- as leverage and as something to fight against and as something to be opponents to.

However, that doesn't mean that a single judge on the court won't want to do away with Roe v. Wade. And I think if we're looking at some of the people that have been floated as potential nominees, a couple of them would definitely want to do with that.

And that's just the sort of idea that Donald Trump likes, because those would be very big splashes in a Supreme Court nominee. And he likes to make big splashes.

HOWELL: Gina, thank you so much for your time and perspective.

REINHARDT: Thank you, George. HOWELL: We're following the breaking news out of Thailand. I want to show you a live image of the scene there. Here's the thing, weather is important.

And look right there, it's starting to rain heavily there near where this rescue operation is taking place. Again, that rescue underway and it could take days. CNN is live, covering the story. We'll have the latest after the break. Stand by.





HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. As we follow the breaking news out of Thailand, efforts underway this hour to rescue 12 young boys and their coach from a flooded cave system. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Divers will escort them out until they can be extracted on stretchers. CNN has witnessed beds being prepared at a local hospital. That's one image of what we've seen so far. CNN's David McKenzie is live in Northern Thailand.

David, it's all about the weather right now, as crews do their best to get these children and this coach out. But from what we see right there, the rain's coming down strong. Not good news.

MCKENZIE: Not good news at all. You can see the squall, possibly the beginning of the monsoon in earnest, moving through the mountains behind me and hitting our positions here. Couldn't see those mountains.

It's significant, George, because that's where this cave system is, in those hills. It's a catchment area of this district. And what will happen is, if the rains are sustained, it's not at that point yet, the water will flood back into that cave system faster than they can pump the water out.

That adds another layer of urgency to this desperate, dramatic rescue attempt of these 12 boys and their coach. As we speak, several hours have gone since they pulled the trigger on this rescue attempt. British divers, according to our source, are in there, right at this hour, trying to pull the young boys out.

We will know in the coming hours if they are successful in this brave and once-ever rescue attempt. It's never really been done before like this, so many people coming out, such a confined space in such difficult circumstances -- George.

HOWELL: David, have you heard anything more from your sources on the ground about where they are in the rescue?

I know that they may not be sharing many details; they're focused obviously on the mission at hand.

But any new information from the sources that you're in touch with?

MCKENZIE: Well, George, what I can describe is how it's going to work. We don't know exactly where in the process they are. The two divers from Britain, according to our source, and Thai Navy specialists will be the first ones in.

They will then bring the boys up one by one. On the outer sections of the cave from chamber three back, that area is now largely dry. Or at least you can wade through or walk through.

They will then, if successful, take the boys off those very narrow passages and hand them to a second team, who will stretcher them out into ambulances. And, in fact, we expect them to come past us on this road in a few hours to the regional hospital in Chiang Rai.

So that's how they hope do it. We don't know when that will happen and that is if it all goes smoothly, George.

HOWELL: David, live there near the scene. Thank you for the reporting and, of course, we'll keep in touch with you throughout the day.

As divers work to reach these children and their coach, their families are waiting. And they're worrying. As you would imagine, it's an excruciating time of great uncertainty. The father of the youngest boy in the cave is doing his best to remain patient, to remain hopeful.

And for now he's telling us about his son in this exclusive interview. Our Matt Rivers has this for us.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifteen days after he first disappeared, Chanin's bedroom hasn't changed. Bed unmade, a typical young kid's room. His father, Tanawat, wants it to be like that for when the 11-year old makes it out of the cave.

TANAWAT VIBOONRUNGRUANG, CHANIN'S FATHER (through translator): He's been playing football since he was young. He started it just at age 8 or 9. He wants to be a professional football player.

RIVERS (voice-over): On June 23rd, he told his mom he was going to football practice. The next time she saw his newly gaunt face was in this video, taken shortly after the team was discovered on July 2nd, nine days after they disappeared.

No phone lines could be established, so the parents wrote letters to their kids. And their kids wrote back. Chanin, the youngest one inside, showed bravery beyond his years.

VIBOONRUNGRUANG (through translator): He said he is fine there, not to be so worried about him.


RIVERS (voice-over): The rescue operation is now underway and all Chanin's parents and the others can do is wait and hope for the best. The children's young lives in the hands of an international team of divers, tasked with carrying out a rescue the world is watching.

VIBOONRUNGRUANG (through translator): I know they work so hard and do their best trying to take the children and coach out.

RIVERS (voice-over): Before the operation began, we asked Tanawat what he would say to his son, still sitting on a small piece of land hundreds of feet below the surface.

VIBOONRUNGRUANG (through translator): I will tell him that I am worried. I want him to be healthy, to get enough strength to dive out safely.

RIVERS (voice-over): Now Chanin has that chance. In his letter to his parents, he wrote that he'd like his uncle to take him for fried chicken as soon as he gets out. His dad, looking at his son's picture, told us, "No problem, whatever he wants. Just make it out OK" -- Matt Rivers, CNN, in Chiang Rai, Thailand.


HOWELL: Matt, thank you.

In Japan, rescue workers are having trouble reaching people trapped by sweeping floodwater. Here's the scene. We'll bring you the latest on the extreme weather.

Plus, protests in Haiti. This over fuel prices guests trying to set fire to a hotel with more than 1,000 U.S. citizens inside. Stay with us.




HOWELL: In Southwest Japan, record rainfall is devastating entire communities there. Floodwaters have swamped roads; they have triggered landslides and destroyed hundreds of homes. We understand at least 57 people have died so far; many more, though, are still missing or are injured.

Forecasts show that more heavy rain is on the way. The government there urging millions of people to evacuate, to get out of the way, before more extreme weather conditions move in. Let's get the latest live in Japan.


HOWELL: Kaori Enjoji is following that story from our Tokyo bureau.

Are people heeding the government's warning?

Are they moving to safer ground in advance of this weather?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: George, thousands of people are already in evacuation shelters and they're being urged to evacuate because of this, what the government calls an abnormal situation, where we've had torrential rains over the last two or three days and the land has already been weakened.

So even though some of the extreme weather conditions seem to be easing up, the government and the weather agency says you have to remain vigilant. There's a lot of area, not only in the southwestern part of Japan but all the way up toward Central Japan, that are vulnerable to mudslides.

You'd see brown, muddy water swallowing up communities, communities that now look virtually like ponds. You have highways that are being closed off, completely submerged under water, as river banks collapse. Dams were overflowing throughout the day and the death toll has been mounting as a result.

Many more have been -- are missing and the government is saying that there are certain communities that have been stranded. So we really don't know yet, George, the exact toll and the exact scope of some of these torrential rainfalls, torrential rains have wreaked on some areas of Japan.

The government has created an emergency response center earlier on today. That indicates -- this hasn't happened in nearly two years. So this indicates the gravity and the severity of the situation in parts of Japan.

They have mobilized some 56,000 troops to tray and reach some of these areas, to use helicopters to try to evacuate people from roofs because they've been urged to seek higher ground. You see pictures of the self-defense forces, which is akin to the military here, using boats and wading through these muddy waters to try to bring people to dry ground.

It's closing in on 6:00 pm here in Japan. I think as night falls, these evacuation efforts are going to be complicated even further. So, as I say, in some areas, they got two to three times more rain than they would in an average month in just a period of 24 to 48 hours.

So that's the amount of rainfall that you're looking at here. And this kind of thing happened exactly a year ago and dozens of people died. But what's different this time is the fact that it's affecting a much larger area of Japan, from the southwestern island of Kyushu, all the way up towards the mountainous areas toward Central Japan.

And even very popular tourist areas, like Kyoto, the ancient city of Kyoto, Hiroshima as well, has been heavily affected by these rains. So you're talking about a very, very large area that has been impacted. And on top of that, as the human toll mounts, we're hearing impact on

industry as well. You have big industrial giants that are headquartered in the West, like Panasonic, that are forced to idle their factories. So I think the toll continues to mount as this abnormal weather situation continues in Japan -- George.

HOWELL: Kaori Enjoji with all the details on it, we'll keep in touch with you. Thank you.

The catastrophic rain in Japan, it is not over.



HOWELL: I want to share with our viewers a dramatic rescue that took place off the rough seas of the Thailand's island Phuket. Video shows the moment survivors of a capsized tourist boat. They were rescued from another boat on Thursday.

A storm whipped up strong winds and high waves, it caused the vessel to tip over. Dozens of people died there and several others are still missing.

Wildfires are spreading across parts of the western United States with record heat. It's fast winds as well. One person was killed in a fire near California's border with Oregon. The fires have consumed dozens of homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate.

Our Sara Sidner has more now from Santa Barbara County, where officials have declared a state of emergency.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is just one example of the absolute power of the fire and winds that have come through parts of California. This is in Goleta, a tight-knit community here in Santa Barbara County, that has dealt with quite a bit.

If you look at the devastation that it's caused to some of the houses here, this one obviously a total loss. There are at least 20 structures that fire authorities say have been affected by this fire. Some of them destroyed like this one.

I want to give you some sense of just how hot it was here when this fire was raging. Look down -- this was obviously a truck. Look down here. That is likely that little step that gets you up to the truck. It's basically melted down, that metal there.

That's how hot this fire got here in Goleta. They have called it the Hollywood fire. There are several other homes just along this road that didn't make it. And this, of course, not the only fire that's been burning. At one point there were 13 fires burning all at once. Some of them small but this one extremely destructive.

And this place has a bit of PTSD, if you will, the residents here, because there was one of the largest fires in California history that burned here just back in December, the Thomas fire, taking dozens of homes in Santa Barbara County -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Goleta, California.


HOWELL: Sara, thank you.

After a violent protest that took place in Haiti, the prime minister is suspending a hike in fuel prices. Demonstrators reportedly tried to set fire to a hotel in Port-au-Prince. More than 100 U.S. citizens were inside. No injuries have been reported, though.

At least three U.S. airlines have canceled flights because of the violence there. In February, Haiti agreed with the International Monetary Fund to end fuel subsidies as part of austerity measures.

A U.S. service member was killed Saturday in Afghanistan. It is being called an apparent insider attack, likely carried out by a member of the Afghan security forces. This happened at an Afghan army base in the southern part of that nation.

Two other U.S. service members were also wounded. This is the third U.S. combat fatality in Afghanistan to take place this year.

And then there were four. The World Cup semifinals, they are set. Next, how England and Croatia secured their place in the next round.







HOWELL (voice-over): You know they're excited in Zagreb, Croatia, utter excitement. Croatia now advancing to the World Cup semifinals. Croatia defeated host Russia in penalties. It's the second time ever Croatia joins the final four at the World Cup.

Also, here's a look at celebrations in England. You can tell people are really excited there. England set to face Croatia on Wednesday. Now this is the first time England has made it to the semifinals since 1990 after defeating Sweden 2-0. It's making fans dream that, well, maybe, that the World Cup could be won by England?

Well, that's what people are hoping there.

It was a thrilling day with the last two games of the quarterfinals. CNN WORLD SPORT's" Vince Cellini tells us how England and Croatia secured their chance to fight for the World Cup.


VINCE CELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The World Cup semifinals are all set with England and Croatia booking their spot on Saturday. For Croatia, they had to get through host Russia, who had been the underdog story of the tournament. And what a thrilling game this was.


CELLINI (voice-over): After battling into extra time, it won. Croatia took the lead. A ball sent into the box and Domagoj Vida, with a header that --


CELLINI (voice-over): -- screamed by players, the goalie, Igor Akinfeev, was helpless. It finds the net and when it all seemed lost for Russia, this happened, on a set piece in the 115th minute.

Mario Fernandes, off the side of his head into the net, the place goes crazy, it's tied at two. So we go to penalties. And that man again, Fernandes of Russia, taking the third penalty kick, a crucial miss.

Ivan Rakitic, then, with a chance to win it for Croatia and he ends the amazing run of the host, 4-3 on penalties, second semi ever for Croatia.

In the other match, 1966 winners England have booked their place in their first semifinal since 1990. England surrendered nothing, blanking the Swedes and making memories for a new generation of their fans.

After a goalless first half-hour, the deadlock eventually broken by England's Harry Maguire, first international goal for him and the Three Lions' fourth goal from a corner at this World Cup and eighth from a set piece.

And it got even better for the English. In the second half, Dele Alli, with the second tally just shy of the hour. Their goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford was a wall, as England is a winner 2-0.

So here's a look at the draw. First there were 32, now there are four. The 1998 winners, France, taking on Belgium Tuesday in St. Petersburg and then England in their third World Cup semifinal. They are set to meet Croatia on Wednesday.

That is your World Cup update. I'm Vince Cellini.


HOWELL: All right, Vince, thank you.

Of course, more on what's happening in Thailand ahead and your news headlines from around the world after the break. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.