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Mission To Free Boys And Coach Trapped In Thailand Cave Underway; Pompeo Dismisses North Korea's "Gangster" Remarks Aired 6-7a ET

Aired July 8, 2018 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:00:10]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirteen international divers started entering the cave with another five Thai Navy SEALs to start the rescue mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe this window is their only window to get the boys out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's little opportunity now that light rain has started to fall for the water to recede within the cave system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's in front of them is truly daunting for even the most advanced cave divers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they get the first one out alive the odds are better for the following ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. We are covering the breaking news. I'm Victor Blackwell.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Dianne Gallagher in for Christi Paul this morning.

Our breaking news right now the operation to save the 12 boys and their coach who were stuck in that cave in Thailand. They have been there for more than two weeks and that rescue mission is now under way. A local governor calling this "D-day," the high-risk mission starting just hours ago around 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Now, officials say that it should take about six hours for skilled divers to reach the boys and another five hours to exit. This entire operation, though, could take two to three days as the boys are being rescued likely one by one.

BLACKWELL: And they truly are racing against the weather now because the heavy rains in some areas have already started and monsoon level rains are expected to intensify over the next week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. NARONGSAK OSOTTHANAKORN, CHIANG RAI PROVINCE (through translator): We have two obstacles water and time. This is what we have been racing against since day one. We have to do all we can, even though it is hard to fight the force of nature.

All we need is a suitable time window when all conditions are right to carry out the operation. We have been waiting for this right moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: CNN's David McKenzie is live near the cave site there in Thailand.

David, two things. Tell us about the weather and what else is happening around you right now.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Dianne, important, critical moments have been happening now in Thailand. The mountain behind me, that is where that cave system is where that ongoing rescue attempt is now in those stages where we believe we may see one of those boys, the 12 boys and their coach emerge in the coming hours.

Now we just learned from an official source, the governor, saying that the boys will have to choose amongst themselves and use the assessment of a doctor as to which one of them will go out first. What an incredible decision that will because the boy who decides to go first or who they choose will go through an incredibly difficult, dangerous journey through these tight passages out to chamber three.

We're learning from a Thai Navy source they will then be handed over to another team, Victor, that will carry them via stretcher all the way to the cave entrance. Then down past the road behind me to a nearby hospital.

Now I spoke to an Israeli diver who is paying a supporting role in those cabins later today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: What worries you right now? Because the weather seems to be closing in. Is that a factor?

RAFAEL AROUSH, ISRAELI DIVER: It's a great factor and it's actually really scary. And I hope -- really, really hope that the (INAUDIBLE) continue like that. A lot of water was drained right away into the cave. There are limestone and there are so many streams around the cave as well.

(INAUDIBLE) water (INAUDIBLE) draining (ph) the whole time to the cave and inside the cave. And it will destroy the whole operation, the mission.

MCKENZIE: So speed now is important?

AROUSH: Speed is very, very important. There might be crucial changes in the rescue operation. Somebody would take a -- to make the decision maybe to bring more of them out today (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: Well, they will have to maybe be flexible (ph) if that water streams in. And I could tell you it has been pouring down on us at different times this morning. But that operation as you say could take days.

It will be arduous. It would be hazardous and those families want to know if their loved ones are safe for some hours. Yes. It's a very tensed wait here -- Victor, Dianne.

GALLAGHER: David, Dianne here. Just -- you were talking about the fact that these boys are going to have to choose amongst themselves but a doctor is also going to be assessing their health.

Do we have any indication on whether they would choose to bring the strongest out first or those who are weaker? How this might play out?

[06:05:01]

MCKENZIE: The only reference we have was from a few days ago, Dianne, when they did say they might take the strongest boys out first. Those were the assessments of the officials. But, you know, things have changed.

And the window that they're dealing with is potentially when you see the clouds behind me and the assessment of the experts here that the monsoon might start in earnest coming into this week. So that might not give them the choice.

That same diver and others have told me if they wait too long then they have to really start all over again because the horrible prospect is that the water will just come rushing back into that cave faster than they can pump it out -- Dianne, Victor.

GALLAGHER: David McKenzie, thank you so much for you excellent reporting. Stay close. We're going to check back in with you in just a moment.

BLACKWELL: The layout of the cave Chiang Rai and the spot where the soccer team is trapped they present more challenges for the rescuers.

Look at this. The group was found 2 1/2 miles from the entrance of the cave, which is about six tenths of a mile underground. Now the journey will start with divers taking just one boy at a time.

That part is more than a mile long. They'll have to travel through narrow and flooded passages which some have described, consider this, as having absolutely no visibility. Now once they've reached the command center, you see that here, special rescue teams will take over at that point.

They'll help the boys through the rest of the journey, which is still more than a mile to the exit and it may require carrying those boys on stretchers. The divers will head back the other way to get back to the boys and their coach until all of them are out.

GALLAGHER: Now, minutes after the international dive team went into the cave, the SEALs posted this picture on social media. You can see it shows three members holding on to each other's wrist with the caption that reads, "We, the Thai SEALs, along with the international diver team are ready to bring the soccer team home."

Now 13 international divers and five Thai Navy SEALs are carrying out the rescue mission.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now is rescue diver Butch Hendrick. Butch, thank you so much for staying with us.

You have helped us understand the challenges throughout this mission and now that it has begun and we know that the rain coming in, what is your primary concern as this plan comes to fruition?

BUTCH HENDRICK, RESCUE DIVER: My biggest concern at the moment, I'm sure for them, they've said it already, is time and water. The fact that it is raining and they've been pumping water nonstop and the water level is continuously rising. If you think about what originally took place was tunnel flooded, water pushed in and the boys got trapped.

As the rain increases, we're looking at a situation that's almost similar visually to what's happening in Japan. The water just starts moving and there is no stopping it. Which means that for our divers to be able to get out becomes an unbelievably difficult task.

Not just to carry out the victim, but just get out themselves.

GALLAGHER: Butch, how exactly -- I know that this isn't something that you were working on, but how exactly can they go about getting these boys out in that situation? It doesn't seem like something you can quite just speed up, if you will.

HENDRICK: They know their pace. They -- you can be sure that they have already practiced what they were going to be doing to get these boys out. They've worked it one or two times with a mock situation, if you will.

They know where their problems are going to be, they've set up for that. Even the most veteran cave diver in the world is going to have a difficult time here because we don't usually think of going into water that's zero visibility and has a physical current or flow that we have to fight against in order to be able to get forward. So they've practiced this for sure before they've decided to move these boys.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about what we know about the plan, and they're not releasing all of the details, but we know that there are 13 specialist divers and five Thai Navy SEALs. So you've got 18 people here with an around the clock operation.

Do you expect that they're working, you know, in eight-hour shifts of six, all 18, all at once? How do you expect if you're organizing this that this is happening in this cave system?

HENDRICK: I would imagine if I were there to command is split his team in half. He has X amount of individuals moving the boys and as soon as they've moved they need a rest period. He knows if he pushes them too hard they won't be able to function.

They may have actually broken it into three teams saying who's going to move the boys from here to here, point A to point B, from point B to point C. And he knows he's going to pass them off after that to what you have said to people with stretchers and they're going to carry them out.

[06:10:02]

He knows if he overloads his manpower, he endangers his own manpower in order to get them back out, he could lose his own.

GALLAGHER: And in moving towards that, Butch, you talked about the rain coming in, talked about the water rising. It's not just the divers who are a part of this rescue mission, though, correct?

I mean, the divers work with others including doctors and people who are trying to make sure their supply is there. But the key part is getting them through the part with the water, still?

HENDRICK: Yes. It's trying to get them out while (INAUDIBLE).

If you think of when not of moving water is a hundred foot per minute. When you think about high school competitive swimmer they swim at about 200 foot per minute. That's two knots.

They already by visuals we're seeing in the cameras on your site they're already running a knot and a half to two knots of moving water that they are fighting against now. The physical force to get out is intense. And now of course they're also bringing along a small boy along with them so their drag is increased.

This is going to be definitely a major project -- I'm sure that they have practiced what they were going to do prior to this exit beginning.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The water there a formidable enemy. We know that they have been pumping out more than 400,000 gallons of water per hour, imagine the mass of that and still diving is necessary and more rain happening now and on the way. Rescue diver Butch Hendrick, thank you so much for helping us understand this.

Now as we've said the weather is what they're racing against because there is rain happening now and will continue. The heavy rains have started. Monsoon level rains expected to intensify over the next week.

GALLAGHER: CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar joining us now. And, Allison, David talked about the intense rains they experienced just a little while ago. This is going to keep up the next week now. ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. And actually it's going to even get worse this weekend and to next week. By that I mean the amount of rain that is going to fall is going to get larger and larger so that is a concern.

As we've mentioned that window is narrowing very quickly. Here is a look at the satellite. OK.

Here you can see Thailand. This is the area around where the cave is. All of the orange and red colors you see here is the moisture.

That rain moving back into the area. And it's really starting to surge. You're going to start to see more frequent downpours as those rain showers get closer.

Now here is a look at the last couple of weeks. We had a lot of rain early on in June. But the good news was from July 2nd to the 7th we had a break but then notice yesterday on or eight, it's about 11 hours ahead of us they did get some rain reported and we're going to continue to see that rain as well.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday all having very high rain chances, about 80 or 90 percent chances. And again it's the amount of rain. This is a look at the forecast, the upcoming week, we have got rain chances every day. But notice as we get to the next week, how they really start to rise.

This is where we are going to see a big concern because then it becomes a point if there's too much water going into the cave and they cannot pump it out fast enough. So, again, Victor, Dianne, this is going to be a concern in the coming days if they have to get these boys out before some of the really torrential downpours begins because at that point they are just simply not going to be able to get the water out fast enough as it's coming in.

GALLAGHER: Allison Chinchar, a true race against nature at this point. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

All right. We're going to continue to follow this breaking news that rescue mission is under way trying to get those 12 boys trapped in that cave in Thailand out. Our team outside the cave watching for critical updates and they will be live throughout the hour.

BLACKWELL: And we are hearing from the father of the youngest boy trapped in that cave. The message he has for his son as this rescue effort continues.

And still to come, secretary of state Mike Pompeo dismisses North Korea's comments that the U.S. has a gangster mindset.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:12]

BLACKWELL: We're continuing the live breaking news coverage out of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Right now a team of divers have now begun their mission to free the 12 boys and their soccer coach from that underground cave. The boys, remember, they are 11 to 16, have been trapped underground for 15 days.

We have just learned the boys will decide which of them will be first to leave the cave. That is going to be left to them. Can you imagine the children deciding amongst themselves who is going to be first?

GALLAGHER: After all they have been through, too.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And David McKenzie who is there he saying that the doctor will consult to tell those boys who may be the strongest to leave but they will make the decision.

GALLAGHER: And there are medical teams too waiting outside the cave. Ready, they're going to take action as soon as the first of those boys emerge. Again they have to make that decision.

Those medical professionals are the first step in what is really a massive medical operation.

BLACKWELL: Now after more than two weeks underground these boys are weakened. A team of doctors, nurses, and paramedics will assess each boy before and then flown to a hospital roughly 35 miles from the cave. Outside the hospital, a dozen beds are waiting for the boys and also one of their coach there.

This is a massive operation. Understand that. Especially for those who are rescuing, also for their families, and the waiting has to be excruciating.

GALLAGHER: It has to be. I mean, we've heard still -- I mean, the father of one of the youngest boys who is there in the cave he has been waiting for news and he is telling us now, today, about his son.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL 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 Tanawut wants it to be like that for when the 11-year-old makes it out of cave.

[06:20:01]

TANAWUT VIBOONRUNGRUANG, CHANIN'S FATHER (through translator): He has been playing football since he was young and he started it just at age eight or nine. He wants to be a professional football player.

RIVERS: On June 23rd, he told his mom he was going to football practice. The next time he is 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 letter to their kids and their kids wrote back. Chanin, the youngest one inside, showed bravely beyond his years.

VIBOONRUNGRUANG (through translator): He said is fine there and not to be so worry about him.

RIVERS: The rescue operation is now underway and all Chanin's parents and the other 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 knew they worked so hard and to their best trying to take the children and coach out.

RIVERS: Before the operation began, we asked the Tanawut 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: Now Chanin has that chance. In his letter to his parents he wrote that he would 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: We'll continue our breaking news coverage throughout the morning of course.

Now to this. They attended the same meetings in North Korea to try to nail down details on denuclearization but the difference in how the U.S. and North Korea, see the talks it's striking. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo calls the talks productive and said progress was made but North Korea slammed what it called the United States gangster-like mindset.

GALLAGHER: So speaking to reporters just a few hours ago in Tokyo, the secretary of state pushed back on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am counting on Chairman Kim to be determined to follow through on the commitment that he make 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: "The world is a gangster." Well, Pompeo gave assurances that North Korea is still committed to dismantling its nuclear program despite those satellite images that appear to show improvements to a nuclear facility.

BLACKWELL: All right. Now to what's happening in Thailand, rescuers are working frantically to try to get those 12 boys and their coach out. We are told that the boys, themselves, will have to decide who will leave first and if everything is on schedule, quite possible that decision has already been made.

We don't know yet. We go back live to near the cave with. David McKenzie is there to try to get some answers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:27:42]

GALLAGHER: Time is running out in Northern Thailand. An international team of divers and Thai Navy SEALs are scrambling now to rescue 12 boys and their coach who have been trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Now the main obstacles that are facing the rescuers rising water and dark tight cave passages.

BLACKWELL: Remember the boys have stuck there for more than two weeks. Depleting oxygen levels, that is of course a challenge. And now we're being told they will decide amongst themselves who will leave first. A doctor will consult.

The local governor says it's "D-day" to try to get them out before the return of the heaviest monsoon rains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NARONGSAK OSOTTHANAKORN, CHIANG RAI PROVINCE (through translator): Yesterday, the water level was the lowest. And, today, the water level in chambers number one, two, and three inside the cave is low enough to walk through them.

The water of some parts recedes as much as 30 centimeters. It is considered the lowest level for the past 10 days.

Regarding the current weather situation another storm is coming. And if we keep waiting then we have to start all over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Let's go back now to the cave. CNN's David McKenzie is near the cave in Chiang Rai.

GALLAGHER: David, you talked earlier about how these kids are going to have to basically decide between themselves. I can't really see -- it doesn't appear to be raining right now but it was earlier.

Have we gotten any sort of update? We're roughly what? Seven hours into this operation now.

MCKENZIE: Well, that's right.

Around seven hours in, Dianne, and we don't know which of those young boys from that soccer team will be coming out first. And the attempt I should say to get them out first. They will first have to go through that treacherous section of underwater tunnels with the specialist divers, then they will be handed off, according to our source, to a second team that will take them out on stretchers just in case to the cave entrance.

Then put on ambulances and transported behind us on this road, we believe, in the coming hours. We don't know exactly when. It's a tense wait.

An agonizing wait for the families. One of those young boys, Prajak Sutham, is 14 years old, he had his birthday also, as well as a couple of others, in that cave.

[06:30:03]

MCKENZIE: And we spoke to his aunt and his grandmother. His aunt found out that the rescue is underway by looking on social media just like many other people and they gave a really emotional response to the ongoing rescue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SALISA PROMJAK, AUNT OF TRAPPED SOCCER PLAYER (through translator): It's like I'm counting every second. I want to see his face.

I want to see how he gets out, how they get him out. I am so happy.

Translator: grandmother loves you most in the whole world. I miss you dearly. I think every country, everyone helps the kids to get out. It's like a miracle.

KIAMWKHAM CHANTAPHOON, GRANDMOTHER OF TRAPPED SOCCER PLAYER (through translator): Grandma loves you the most in the whole world. I miss you dearly. I think every country, everyone helps the kids to get out.

It's like a miracle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: These are tightly knit communities and families and they are waiting, along with everyone else. Now the parents of Prajak will be on the mountainside behind me right now, Dianne and Victor --

GALLAGHER: Yes.

MCKENZIE: -- waiting to hear if he has come out, will he come out, and is he safe.

BLACKWELL: David, to you. As it relates to the communication, if he'll come out, when he'll come out, and if he is safe, what is the degree of communication between those who are inside trying to get to the boys and when those outside of the rescue will know we have the first one and we are on our way back?

Will they know it on the outside? Will we know when they have the first boy?

MCKENZIE: Look. It's a very sensitive issue, of course, because even if one boy gets out safely, they are still 11 more people, including the coach, to get out. And, of course, everyone wants everybody out safely, so it all depends on how the authorities decide to release that news.

The way it will work on a logistical level. The boys will come out from that horrible tight squeeze to chamber three. At that point there will be a second team, as I said, and they will know pretty quickly -- I'm sure they will have doctors on the scene to assess their state of health.

We will certainly know when an ambulance is flying past us here to a hospital where we have teams monitoring what the situation is there. They have had hospital beds ready. The staff is ready to take them in.

Up until this point, the boys have been remarkably well. Three of them had some health issues and the oxygen levels were such that they got very concerned about hypoxia and other health concerns, but we might not know exactly.

The information could drip out, as it were, or we could get it all at once. But it could take hours and even days, according to the governor, for this all to be resolved and, hopefully, hopefully, resolved in a positive way.

GALLAGHER: David McKenzie, thank you so much for us there in Thailand keeping us updated as the morning goes on.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us on the phone now cave explorer Emily Davis. She was in New Mexico at a survey expedition. She was part of that when she was stuck in a cave for 91 hours before being rescued. Although we've been told that help arrived 12 hours in.

Emily, thank you for being with us.

EMILY DAVIS, CAVE EXPLORER (via telephone): Good morning.

GALLAGHER: Emily, look. These are caves here. They are narrow, they are tough to navigate, and they're filling quickly with water.

That's not something that you had to deal with when -- when -- in your cave rescue that the rescuers had to deal with you, but this narrow difficult to navigate area that is something that you can talk about those challenges rescuers may face.

DAVIS: Yes. The narrow area is the most difficult because not only did I have to fit through a tight passage which cave explores are comfortable with, but other people see and they look at it, and they say, oh, I could never fit through that. And they have to do this with tanks and with the kids in tow.

So they are moving through something that is difficult to move through even if there were air in it, and they are having to do it through water. So it's a -- it's a matter of the divers instilling confidence in the kids and having a method of pulling them through, having them go through, and the kids are tired. The kids have been malnourished. So it's very hard. But the divers that are there -- excuse me. The divers that are there are top-notch international cave divers.

They really know their stuff. So I have confidence that they will be able to do this.

BLACKWELL: So when this plan is executed because we know that there are now 18 divers, 13 internationals and five Thai Navy SEALs were a part of this, is this plan still malleable? I mean, is everyone going to follow it by the book the way it's written or is there still room, even as it's beginning for things to shift and change and that does, itself, create a potential danger?

[06:35:00]

DAVIS: Cave rescue has to be malleable. It has to -- they have to be available for change. And these are experienced people who will recognize issues and change as need be.

They probably have a plan in place, but there has to be some flexibility, depending on any situation. The fact that they have drained the water down to the level they have, I think, makes a major difference. It will make it a considerably easier rescue, as difficult as it will be, but there has to be availability of change and because these guys are so experienced, they will be able to change on the fly.

GALLAGHER: I want to talk about that experience in just a moment again, but, first, any sort of medical issues these boys could be facing? I know that doctors have been trying to assess them as they go on, but are we talking hypothermia here?

We already know about the lack of oxygen and some them are sick from that.

DAVIS: Yes. Some of the medical issues are out of the sight of my knowledge. I do know one of the things we study in cave rescue, especially in the northeast United States where I am, is hypothermia and you have to remember that a body's temperature is 98.6 normal. And that the water, even in a warm Thai cave, may be only 70 degrees.

So we are talking about 30 degrees below body temperature. You can cool off pretty quickly. If you're not healthy, you can cool off even faster, so hypothermia will be one of their major concerns.

GALLAGHER: And, Emily, you keep talking about experienced cave divers and we know that those who are rescuing these boys are experienced. You, yourself, you know, 90 hours there in that cave but you were an experienced cave diver. You knew how to sort of go through these small areas.

You said it wasn't frightening for you to go through these narrow passages. These are just little boys. I mean, they are ages 11 to 16.

They are not experienced in any of this and their coach is 25. They are not cave divers. They are soccer players.

DAVIS: Well, I'm not a cave diver. I'm an experienced caver and there was no water in my cave. But what you have to look at with the boys is that these divers will instill confidence in them.

Their expertise will help and one of the things that you work on in a cave rescue situation is the psychology of your patients. And they will be looking at that every moment to try and have the kids thinking about getting home to their parents, that they need to have fortitude for short periods of time and they will be out with their families.

And I think that the experienced cave rescue people who are there will help with this psychological part of the rescue, which is so important. It's one of the most important factors to get the kids out.

BLACKWELL: One more for you, Emily, here. We have been told that the boys will have to choose amongst themselves who will leave first.

GALLAGHER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: How do you prioritize who leaves first? The weakest out first because of medical needs? The strongest out first because we will see if this plan actually works the way we have written it out?

How do you decide?

DAVIS: Well, I'm hoping that they choose the strongest because, again, the psychology. If you have the strongest go out first, it succeeds and the word can get back to the other kids, that this first person has made it through, he's on his way to the hospital, it will help strengthen the weaker kid, that they know it can be done, they know that there is a chance that they will be out with their families in a certain amount of time.

BLACKWELL: Excellent point. Emily Davis, thank you so much for helping us understand this.

DAVIS: My pleasure.

GALLAGHER: So record rainfall is forcing millions to evacuate their homes in Japan now where entire communities are under water. Take a look at these images. We are going to bring you the latest on that extreme weather in Japan after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:43:34]

BLACKWELL: Look at these pictures. This is the result of record rainfall in southwest Japan. 4 million people have been forced to evacuate.

GALLAGHER: Yes. Massive flooding you can see there and it's taking over cars, vehicles, swallowing essentially roads that triggered landslides and destroyed dozens of homes. You can see rescue operations happening there.

At least 57 people have died already. There are dozens more missing or injured at this hour. And there are thousands of troops that are deploying to try and help with rescue operations.

But just look at how much water has fallen and created these problems there in Japan. Again millions of people being asked to evacuate from their homes and where they are because they just cannot seem to -- it just continues.

BLACKWELL: Yes. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar still with us. Let's move now from Thailand to Japan and all of the rain that is hitting that area.

CHINCHAR: Right. And you have to understand at the same time about a year ago some of these same regions were dealing with flooding. This time, we have eight very highly populated prefectures that have been affected.

It's basically a stalled front that set up along southern and central Japan. And you get what's called training where one storm moves out and another one forms right back in the old spot. That one moves out and another one form over the same spot. So these areas don't get a break from the rain.

[06:45:00]

And when that happens you can get tremendous amounts of rain that falls. Take a look at these just in the last 72 hours, 47 inches of rain, 30 inches.

Even Kyoto and you have to keep in mind some of these areas like Kyoto are high tourist destinations so you have a lot of people not only that live there but that are also visiting there that don't really know where to go in some of these locations.

Now they do have shelters that have been set up in a lot of these places but keep, again, you have to keep in mind this is a lot of rain and it has been in a very short period of time. Now there is still some additional rainfall expected. The good news is what is left should be less than, say, about 2 inches, guys.

GALLAGHER: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: The operation to rescue those trapped boys in Thailand is happening right now. And, of course, the urgency has been increased because the rain is picking up and it will not stop for days. We will have the latest both there in Thailand and from our severe weather center in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:14]

GALLAGHER: Thai authorities worked to rescue those boys. Nearly eight hours into the mission school children across Thailand are sending their prayers. Our David McKenzie has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Ever since their classmates went missing in the cave, they have been praying for a miracle.

For more than a week, the students and teachers at the school and the rest of the world have been waiting anxiously unsure if the boys were still alive.

WORAWIT CHAIGA, TEACHER, MAE SAI PRASITSART SCHOOL (through translator): my students were sad. Some even cried when they heard the news. I told them to pray which was the only thing they could do at that moment.

MCKENZIE: They will continue praying and hoping every day, he says, until the 12 players and coach are back above ground.

At a make-shift vigil at another school where one of the trapped boys is a student, they have posted photos and messages of support. Students have also have filled the jar with a thousand origami birds.

PIYARAT NUNGSAWAN, COUNSELOR, BAN WIANGPHAN SCHOOL (through translator): I told my students to pray and also asked them to make birds because we think it means good luck.

MCKENZIE: In a nearby village the grandmother of one of the boys has been keeping her own vigil supported by her friends. She says that every day at 8:00 a.m., she and her friends listen to the news for updates, share meals, and pray.

WANKAEW PAKHUMMA, GRANDMOTHER OF BOY TRAPPED IN CAVE (through translator): I went every day to the temple to make merit. Every day I pray for them to be safe.

MCKENZIE: News of the boys' discovery has lifted the spirit of the community here but they know it is not over yet.

PUWADET KUMNGOEN, FRIEND OF NATTHAWUT (ph) TAKUMSONG (ph) (through translator): When I see my friend I will hold his hand. When he is fully recovered we will go play soccer again.

MCKENZIE: Until then they will pray each day for their friends, their sons, and family to rise to the surface safely.

David McKenzie, CNN, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Divers right now are trying to deliver what those families and those classmates are praying for rescuing those boys who are trapped in that cave there. It is happening right now. And the fast moving weather system could complicate their mission even more.

We are covering this from all angles. GALLAGHER: And in World Cup news, a dramatic end between Russia and Croatia. They need extra time and even more to decide who wins and who goes home.

BLACKWELL: And tonight, CNN is exploring the decade that gave us Tony Soprano, Walter White and reality TV. The premiere of CNN's original series "The 2000s" is at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:57:10]

ANNOUNCER: Bleacher Report World Cup update brought to you by Verizon. Now go mix and match family unlimited plans.

BLACKWELL: The final four is set and there were some drama.

GALLAGHER: Has there been anything but drama in this World Cup. The final spot in the semifinals came down to two penalty kicks such a similar refrain we have been seeing. Kristina Fitzpatrick here for this morning's Bleacher Report. PKs again?

KRISTINA FITZPATRICK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Right. All eyes were on this one though.

Drama, yes, for sure. It didn't disappoint. I think everybody is watching even casual soccer fans.

Russia versus Croatia. Russia the lowest ranked team entering the World Cup has been riding this incredible wave of support from their home crowd all tournament long. We're going straight to extra time in this one tied 1-1 (INAUDIBLE) Sochi (ph). Players are trying to find that extra ounce of energy and Croatia's Luka Modric and Domagoj Vida did.

The ball perfect placed connecting Domagoj (ph) Vida (ph) header (ph). Goal is frozen. The ball goes in, shirt goes off.

Croatia celebrates. Russian fans were stunned. The players also looking a little defeated.

But they would find life to the 115th minute we go. Russia's Alan Dzagoev answers setting up a brilliant header by Mario Fernandes tied two and going to penalty kicks. Now 1-1 in PKs both teams already missing one shot each.

Mario Fernandes gets a chance to be a hero again but he pulls it, doesn't even put it on net. The look on his face says is all. Croatia's Ivan Rakitic can win it. Back in the net.

Here comes his teammates. The mob. Fans packed and Croatia's capital are going bonkers.

Check out this guy. He's at the top of a statue. He made his way up there to celebrate.

Croatia moves on to the semifinals.

The early match of the day all about England. Midway through the first half the Three Lions go up 1-0 (ph). Sweden with this pretty perfect header. England's Harry Maguire getting up over defenders to put the ball in the net.

The reaction in London. Everything you'd expect and more.

(VIDEO PLAYING)

FITZPATRICK: You can kind of see the guy with the fresh beers for his buddies. Those won't last very long.

(LAUGHTER)

FITZPATRICK: Yes. Beverages flying in the air. Why not?

England has been waiting a long time for this. They'll make their first trip to the World Cup semifinals since 1990. They beat Sweden 2-0.

The final four sets up like this on Tuesday from St. Petersburg a match of a pre tournament favorite, France and Belgium. And on Moscow on Wednesday, two surprises, England and Croatia.

Good stuff.

GALLAGHER: England hoping it feels like '66 this year instead of '90?

FITZPATRICK: Yes. Right.

BLACKWELL: Isn't that just like a friend to see you with a beer and you're trying to conserve and say, forget the beer. We are winning.

(LAUGHTER)

[07:00:00]

FITZPATRICK: What that guy went through to get those --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: I know.

GALLAGHER: That crowd trying to get it there and then -- yes.

FITZPATRICK: (INAUDIBLE) celebration. Thank you guys.

BLACKWELL: Thanks so much.