tv CNN Newsroom Live CNN December 12, 2021 1:00am-2:00am PST
welcome to all of you watching us here in the united states, canada, and around the world. i'm kim brunhuber. ahead on "cnn newsroom" -- >> trapped. please, y'all, get us some help. we're at the candle factory in mayfield. >> incredible stories of survival in kentucky and other states following a string of deadly tornadoes. plus, developing out of italy, where several buildings have collapsed early this morning. we're live with the latest. and political controversy and beauty pageants don't always
go hand in hand. we'll explain why this year's miss universe competition is dealing with just that. we begin with the astonishing damage from one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in the u.s. in decades. at least 84 people are feared dead after a series of powerful tornadoes ravaged six states and officials say the death toll is likely to rise above 100. it's feared many of those deaths happened inside this candle factory that collapsed in mayfield, kentucky. more than 100 people were inside when the storm hit. just 40 have been pulled from the rubble. dozens more are unaccounted for. cnn spoke with one man who raced to the factory where his wife had been working. he managed to pull people two people out, but his wife is still missing and the wait for answers is agonizing.
>> i want to find my wife. i want to find and know if he's still somewhere safe. i hope she's somewhere safe. baby, please call me as soon as we get connected. please call me. i'm looking for you, baby. we've been looking for you. we, the kids, we're all looking for you right now. >> the longest stretch of devastation spanned more than 250 miles, around 400 kilometers across several states. kentucky's governor says one tornado may have been on the ground for 200 miles in his state alone. in all, more than 30 tornadoes were reported across six states, including arkansas, illinois, missouri, and tennessee. in illinois, an amazon warehouse collapsed, killing at least six people. officials say search and rescue efforts are still underway. in illinois, at least 20 people were injured when a tornado
ripped through a nursing home. u.s. president biden has already declared a federal emergency declaration for kentucky and the federal government is ready to provide whatever other help is needed. here he is. >> this is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history. the federal government will do everything, everything it can possibly do to help. >> kentucky governor andy bashir toured some of the hardest-hit areas on saturday, including the candle factory that was flattened in mayfield. he says the extent of the devastation is staggering. >> the devastation is unlike anything i have seen in my life, and i have trouble putting it into words. when it was safe to travel this morning, i flew to mayfield. my first stop was that candle factory. 110 people working in it at the time the storm hit. they rescued 40. there's at least 15 feet of
metal with cars on top of it. barrels of corrosive chemicals that are there. it will be a miracle if anybody else is found alive in it. >> cnn is covering this story across several states from all angles, from the staggering damage and loss of life in mayfield and dawson spring's kentucky, to edwardsville, illinois, where part of that amazon warehouse collapsed, to the white house for the latest on the federal response. the mayor of mayfield says her town now looks like matchsticks and the human toll isn't yet known. cnn's brynn gingras is there. >> waking up this morning, kentucky's governor fears the death toll in this state could rise past 100. it's the worst devastation that this state has ever seen. take a look behind me at what we're looking just in the center of this town of mayfield. it's hard to tell what these
buildings actually were, because they have all just been decimated. and we're talking about for miles. in fact, as my crew was driving into this town on a four-lane highway, the second we saw the sign that said "welcome to mayfield," it's like we entered a completely different world. nothing is recognizable. a candle factory not far from where we are with more than 100 employees working around the clock to meet christmastime demand, that building is now a pile of rubble. cnn is telling people they were warned, some got out safe. about 40 people were rescued according to the governor. others feared dead. fema teams are in the state and efforts to find those lost is going to continue later in today. in mayfield, kentucky, i'm brynn gingras, cnn. >> in northeastern arkansas, at least two people were killed in the tornado, one in the town of manette at a nursing home destroyed by the storm. have a look at these pictures. the one on the left, that nursing home, before the storm,
the one on the right, after the massive tornado hit. there were 67 residents in that nursing home at time. last time the town had damage from a tornado, 1984. joining us now over the phone from manette, arkansas, is mayor bob blankenship. mayor, thank you so much for being here with us. your city was really hard hit and unfortunately, there was loss of life. now that you've seen the damage during daylight hours today, just how bad is it? >> well, i think the initial shock was last evening when we saw what had happened, what we knew could happen and the reality is it did happen. but in the daylight hours, to see -- to see the widespread of what it had done, not just in the inner part of our city or
the outskirts of our city, but to see what it had done before it got there. and then as it left there, to see not just that we were the only ones going through such heartache and pain and the devastation that we've seen, but to see, i guess, just how massive, just how much strength was in the destruction, how it could uproot trees and totally destroy, take roofs off of buildings, and see that, but i think this morning when i looked at our eyes this morning, with our eyes this morning, with the daylight in front of us, i think we had the opportunity to see just how close we came to how much more area could have been taken with this. you've got to stop and pause and be thankful more that, that only
that small area was hit in our town. >> you had what, maybe 25 minutes' warning, is that right? less than half an hour. >> yes. we had 25 minutes. that doesn't seem a long time, but then again it is a long time. you know, as i said earlier today that we -- we knew all day long and a couple days prior to that, but that particular time that we could be under some very severe weather. >> yeah, as you say, it could have been much worse. looking at the recovery now, how long do you think it's going to be before you can get your city back to whatever it was? >> well, i think for our personal homes that were damaged or destroyed, you know, three months, four months, i think, from the time that -- on the worst ones, it's going to take to get those either replaced or
the people relocate to another area in our community. the ones with the minor damage where there's roof or windows, or something like that, i look for maybe two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. but the biggest and is going to be our nursing facility. i know that's going to take several months to clean up the debris and then go through all of the procedure of architectural and contract and so forth, it's going to take a while. it may be a year before we see that come back. >> yeah. well, we've certainly see the community come together and people are very resilient. and i know plenty of folks out here are thinking of you and all the cities and towns that have been hit by this and so close to christmas, as well we wish you all the best of luck in your recovery. thank you so much, mayor. >> thank you. >> all right.
let's bring in meteorologist derek van dam. derek, you were just listening to the mayor there describing the extent of the damage. they were lucky, he said, that they got a bit of warning, and the damage wasn't worse there. now with a bit of time to analyze exactly what happened across all of these states, walk us through what created a weather event of this scale. >> yeah, it was the perfect confluence of atmosphere ingredients. mother nature taking advantage of all of those dpringredients unfortunately displaying her ferocity behind it. because what we saw was truly historic in nature. and let me explain why. we averaged in december across the united states about 23 tornadoes throughout the entire month, just in a 24-hour period with this severe weather outbreak, we saw over 30 confirmed tornadoes. of course, the national weather service still analyzing all the data to determine how many tornadoes actually took place. but here's this confluence of atmospheric ingredients. we had record-warm temperatures
streaming in from the south, and that collided with an extremely cold air mass to the north. that combined with a powerful jet stream. the jet stream is upper level winds that help steer weather patterns across the planet. where that triple point actually occurred, that is exactly where the storm prediction center had highlighted our greatest threat of severe thunderstorms, super cells that had the capability of produce long-track tornadoes and that's exactly what happened. in fact, they had over 100 tornadoes issued. that's the largest single-day total in the month of december. there were tornadoes that spanned over 200 miles or 320 kilometers. and this is unfortunately a dire record that is likely to be broken, if we see fatalities exceed 100 persons, the potential here exists for this to nudge into the top ten deadliest tornado outbreaks within the united states history. and not to mention, the longest single-track, longest duration single tornado ever recorded as
well. national weather service going to each individual touchdown of tornadoes and rating them in the enhanced fujita scale. that is a scale that takes into consideration wind strength and damage. of course, still investigating all of these individual areas, but what they're finding is damage consistent with winds in excess of 200 to 300 kilometers per hour. this stands anywhere between an ef-3 to ef-5 tornado. i mean, this is just absolutely incredible. we're talking about catastrophic devastation. and what we've seen with some of the satellite imagery that we're analyzing is damage consistent with an ef-4 or ef-5. time will tell. and if, indeed, kim, this is an ef-5 tornado that occurred across the quad state area, that would break a drought over 3,000 days without seeing one across the continental united states. >> wow. derek van dam, thanks for putting it in context for us. appreciate it. and you can help those in need
after those deadly tornadoes. go to cnn.com/impact and there you can find verified ways to help tornado victims. once again, that's c cnn.com/impact. all right. we have much more just ahead, including a look at the devastation left behind after an amazon warehouse in illinois took a direct hit from a tornado and emergency crews are searching for survivors after several homes and buildings collapsed in italy. we we have the latest details in what might have caused the incident coming up in a live report from m rome. stay with us. i thought i was managing my moderate to severe crohn's disease. then i realized something was missing... ...me. my symptoms were keeping me fromeing there for her. so, i talked to my doctor and leaed humira ithe #1 prescribed biologic for people with crohn's disease.
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so does my oral-b my hygienist personalizes my cleaning. so does my oral-b oral-b delivers the wow of a professional clean feel every day. updating you on our top story. this tornado disaster is now responsible for at least 84 deaths if five of the six states that were hit. at least six people died in the collapse of an amazon warehouse in edwardsville, illinois. 45 people got out alive there, but it's still not clear how many people have been in that warehouse when the ef-3 tornado hit. a shift change was happening at the time. and in kentucky from may ophelia to bowling green and beyond, we're seeing the disaster grow
worse, as well. at least 70 people are feared dead in the state. the governor warns that the toll could top 100 and children are among the 12 known dead in warren county. and in tennessee, one person is missing in lake court. four people are dead statewide. the governor believes effective storm warnings kept the numbers from being much higher. we're also hearing from people who had close calls with tornadoes during those storms. cnn caught up with one man who was at home when a tornado did this in mayfield, kentucky. he described what he did when he realized the twister was coming. >> we got in our closet -- put some mattresses inside, because it's nothing new to hear tornado warnings around this area. so we was only out on this front porch. and i remember seeing just -- all the power -- the last thing i remember, the power just went out, the sky turned pblue, and seen the funnel cloud over that way. i ran inside. i told my other buddies, and
he's out here trying to finish his cigarette, he barely made it back inside and that was it. it hit so fast. everything started caving in. it was nuts. right next door, about three houses down, people were screaming. i helped a little old lady out from rubble. my first thoughts was everybody else. i checked everybody on the house, and everybody was good. and there was a bunch of other people on the other street, five or six people doing cpr, on a little boy. and i heard he didn't make it. >> dawson springs in western kentucky is dealing with the crushing effects of the tornadoes. there's destruction almost everywhere. cnn's ed lavendera is there with the latest. >> the city of dawson springs has nearly 3,000 people and much of it has been left like the ruins you see behind me. we are about 70 miles east of the city of mayfield, kentucky, and this is an area where many of its residents were watching the storm as it started moving towards them. we spoke with one gentlemen who was watching and tracking the
tornadoes on a radar and when he realized that this neighborhood, his neighborhood, was about to take a direct hit, he decided to leave and get away, which was probably a smart decision. because for miles and miles, many of the homes look like what you see behind me, piles of rubble and rubble. you may see some homes in the distance eventually sheared in half. the destruction here is really stunning. when we first pulled in, we walked up on to a concrete porch that is left in tact, but no home attached to it any longer. this goes on for miles. this looks like the epicenter of an explosion that is simply just massive. the medical examiner here in this county tells us that the tornadoes here killed ten people and that in this area, this is the hardest hit area of the county. overnight, no power for as far as we can see. this is a sea of darkness, all around us. so many people left homeless
that the county has set up cottages at a nearby state park so people can get some shelter here, especially through these very frigid nights that are expected. as we walk around here, we talk to some people who were rushed here to this scene, who were helping people escape from the debris field. they described pulling people out with broken bones. the nearby hospital that has treated people said they treated nearly 100 people from around this area with traumatic injuries caused by this storm. and the one thing you're left with, as you watch other people comb through the rubble, trying to find whatever belongings they can salvage is really a sense of people stunned and in disbelief of what they have endured here. ed lavendera, cnn, dawson springs, kentucky. >> as we mentioned, the tornado that struck an amazon warehouse in illinois hit during a shift change. police said some people were initially trapped underneath the rubble. as polo sandoval reports from
the scene, officials now say there's no one left to save. >> reporter: families here in western illinois receiving some truly heartbreaking news as the state's governor updates the death toll from two to six people, all workers at this amazon fulfillment center. you can see what's left behind here after one of dozens of tornados that touched down on friday night actually led or caused that partial collapse of the building here. some more disheartening news, also, that was shared by authorities that this is now transitioning from a search and rescue mission to a search and recovery. one local official saying now that there is no hope of finding any survivors. so now the big question is whether or not there are any people that are still unaccounted for. they may have to be recovered in the days ahead. and meanwhile, as we heard from governor pritzker on saturday night, the governor sharing a message of condolence for the families of those six people who were killed here. >> please know that the people of illinois stand with you.
we are one illinois. in this moment and in the days, months, and years to come, you are not alone. we will stand with you to help you through your grief and then to honor your loved ones. may their memory be a blessing. >> governor pritzker also adding that he and his office have been in contact with amazon. the company saying that they do intend to assist the community in rebuilding and recovery efforts. there are still many questions here on the ground, though, as to what kind of protocols and policies were in place to make sure that employees could stay safe. authorities confirming on saturday night that this building that you see behind me did not have a basement. so as we enter sunday, that will be one of the key questions here, is what kind of options did the staff here to actually seek shelter as the severe weather was threatening on friday night. polo sandoval, cnn, edwardsville, illinois.
a town in sicily woke today to the sound of a blast. just ahead on cnn, two people are dead, buildings have collapsed as rescuers search for the missing. plus, with g-7 foreign ministers are meeting for a second day in england, hoping the threat of harsh economic sanctions will deter russia from invading ukraine. a live report from liverpool, just ahead. stay with us.
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back to our top story. at least 84 people are feared dead after a series of powerful tornadoes ripped through several u.s. states and officials fear that death toll will rise as search and rescue operations ramp up in the coming hours. kentucky bore the brunt of the devastation. the governor says at least 70 people likely died in his state alone. the snmall town of mayfield was nearly leveled by the storm. homes and businesses reduced to piles of rubble in mere moments. the storm flattened this candle factor in mayfield. officials say more than 100 people were working inside when the storm hit. just 40 have been rescued and dozens more are still unaccounted for. one woman who was working in the factory spent hours trapped under the rubble. at some point, she started broadcasting on facebook live, desperately asking for help. listen to this. >> we are trapped. please, y'all, get us some help. we're at the candle factory in mayfield. please.
please. y'all! y'all, please send us some help! somebody please send us some help. we are trapped. the wall is stuck on me. nobody can get to us. y'all. please. we can't move. andrea, calm down. y'all, please, y'all. pray for us. just get somebody to come and help us. >> cnn spoke with that woman, kiana parsons perez a short time ago and she told us what it was like to be trapped in the rubble. listen. >> it was terrifying. it was -- it was -- i can't even think of any other words to describe it. it was a very terrifying experience. we talked to each other quite a
bit, trying to keep each other calm. letting each other know how we were doing. if someone wasn't breathing, you know, as we were trying to maneuver our way around and out, we talked to kind of work together to figure out what we were doing and what we should do. and even at one point, somebody was moving around towards my foot, and whatever they was doing was causing pain to my ankle, and i was like, please, stop, whoever is doing that. and they stopped. so we were in communication. but one thing that we were realizing where we were, though all of us was in the same area, the way that the ceiling and the building collapsed on us, it kind of divided us. and divided us into groups. so i was in a group in one little area and there were other groups, because the debris was around us and had us all kind of just sectioned off, almost like
little cubicubicles, you know. it was just like little clusters. it looked like a landfill. that's exactly what it looked like. it just was completely demolished and was gone. i couldn't believe that the building that was -- it was a big building. it was a big-sized building, but that that building was completely turned into rubble. >> as the community starts to come to grips with the devastating aftermath, the white house is responding, as well. our arlette saenz reports. >> reporter: president biden says he plans to visit the communities devastated by a string of tornadoes over the weekend, predicting it may be the largest outbreak of tornadoes in american history. the president said he will not travel to those regions until he knows that his presence there will not hinder from rescue and recovery efforts. the president has said his heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, those who still do
not know where their family members are, and also the rescue teams and first responders working on the scene. the president has pledged federal assistance, approving an emergency declaration for the state of kentucky. he has also said that he will offer more federal assistance if the states feel that they need it. but take a listen to the president talking about a possible visit to see and survey this damage firsthand. >> i spoke with -- i started off this morning with the governor of kentucky, and offered to -- i said, i'll be happy to come, but i don't want to be in the way. when a president shows up, he shows up with an awful lot of personnel. an awful lot of vehicles, an awful lot of -- we can get in the way, unintentionunintention. so what i'm working with the governor of kentucky and others who may want me to be there, is i want to make sure that we are value added at the time and we're not going to get in the way of the rescue and the recovery. but i do plan on going.
>> reporter: while no tulane has been laid out for a possible presidential visit, on sunday, the homeland security secretary, alej alejandro mayorkas and fema director deann chriswell will survey the region to assess damage. arlette saenz, cnn, the white house. we're following developing news from a town coping with a tragedy on the italian island of sicily. emergency teams are searching for survivors after several buildings collapsed in rapanusa. fire officials say at least two people were killed and others are missing. barbie nadeau joins me live from rome. so barbie, what's the latest on that catastrophe? >> they're still searching for survivors, hoping that there are people that they'll be able to pull out alive. but of course as time goes on, it always becomes more difficult to find survivors in these situations. this explosion devastated three buildings, but also damaged
several others in this small town of about 10,000 people on the southern coast of sicily. there are about 50 people who aren't able to return to their homes. and what we know so far is that this was a gas explosion. wetriggered it, though. some reports say that it could have been someone using the elevator or some reports say that there could have been some seismic activity. but every 30 minutes, they're stopping the rescue efforts to listen and try to see if there's anybody calling for help. two women were rescued alive. one because she had her cell phone on her and was able to call and say where she was in this rubble. it's a devastating, devastating situation for this small town. everyone knew everyone there. it's a close-knit community. so when they're searching, they know who they're looking for, and that is difficult for them, kim. >> yeah, you know, give us a sense of exactly where this is and you have sort of outlined there what effects this would have on such a small community.
>> yeah, no, it is a small community. and this is near agragento in sicily, a very popular tourist area with greek runins, but thi was a community of 10,000 people. and they didn't have a huge fire department with a lot of equipment. so the mayor last night, early morning, when it was happening. he put out a plea on facebook, anybody with shovels or any kind of equipment that could help start moving some of this heavy rubble, these buildings, of course, are made of stone to come and please try to help. it's devastating for them and it's still not over yet until they find everyone that's missing, kim. >> we'll stay on this story. barbie nadeau in rome, thanks so much. the foreign ministers of the g-7 nations will soon hold a second day of meetings in england with the goal of deterring russian aggression toward ukraine. after the g-7, a senior u.s. diplomat will travel to kiev to
confer with ukrainian officials. she'll also visit moscow to get the russian view of the situation and then consult with nato and eu officials in brussels. cnn's nic robertson joins us now from liverpool. nic, a show of unity from the g-7 against russia. take us lu athrough against wha happened so far and how russia has been reacting. >> reporter: well, what we understand is that there will be a separate g-7 statement on russia/ukraine to send a united message, we're told, that the form ministers are here are fired up and, you know, forceful agreement is how it's being described, that they have around the issue of wanting to send a clear and united message to russia. that if its troops go into ukraine, there will be consequences, strong orders of magnitude bigger, economic consequences for russia, if that happens. so that separate statement wasn't anticipated, prior to to the summit. there is, of course, normally a post-summit or post-meeting
statement. this is going to be in addition to that. that's the expectation. russia, for its part, the embassy here in london has criticized the british foreign secretary for comment she has made prior to this summit, saying that, you know, she -- the british foreign secretary has said that russian troops are aggressive, that they are potentially going to invade ukraine. the russian embassy saying that's not correct. the russian embassy has no intention of invading ukraine and they say the civil war in ukraine is the thing that's getting hot and explosive. and that's their concern. they're saying that it's britain that's moved troops closer to russia's border in estonia and poland. there are a relatively small number, several hundred tops as part of the nato reinforcement on its eastern flank with russia. so it is a war of words. is russia paying attention to what the g-7 foreign ministers are saying here? absolutely. will we get some more clarity on the strength of that unity and commitment later today?
we're anticipating that. >> all right, nic, looking ahead as i mentioned, the u.s. assistant secretary of state who oversees europe and eurasia will be going to ukraine to talk about the military buildup, so what we are expecting to come out of this? >> when president biden spoke with president putin just about a week ago, the conclusion was that there would be follow-up diplomacy at sort of a lower level track. and this appears to be that. very senior diplomat, u.s. secretary of state, is a senior diplomat. however, this seems to be the outflowings of that conversation. she will go to brussels, we understand, to talk about to eu leaders, to hear their positions firsthand, to go to kiev and speak with ukrainians. but of course, on to moscow, it is not clear that her mission is to completely reset russia's thinking, but open some dialogue
around what president biden has said to president putin. however, the message from here at the g-7 will be very clear, and that is something that she, of course, will be able to echo when she reaches moscow. >> all right. thank you so much, nic robertson in liverpool. political headaches keep on coming for british prime minister boris johnson. still ahead. johnson slides in the polls, as a new photo feeds the controversy over parties at 10 downing street. plus, we'll examine concerns that falling temperatures in the u.s. could mean cold weather covid surge is on the horizon. stay with us. firefighter maggie gronewald knows how to handle dry weather... ...and dry, cracked skin. new gold bond advanced healing ointment. restore healthy skin, with no sticky feeling.
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nadia bashir joins us now with more from london. this controversy now directly involving the prime minister. what can you tell us more about the controversial photo. >> this photo is the one that's grabbing headlines today. boris johnson hosting a christmas quiz party. the headline has gone for, taking us for fools again. this comes just days after the prime minister's former press secretary was seen in a video actually making light of these covid restrictions and suggesting that a party would help. so to see this party now come out with the prime minister at a christmas quiz has caused some frustration. it is understood, as reported by the sunday mirror, that other members of staff in downing street were participating in this quiz, although downing street has asserted that this was a virtual quiz and those taking part within downing
street were already present in their offices, working as part of the kocovid response, and ma have just taken part from their desks. they have acknowledged that boris johnson did participate in this christmas quiz party briefly. they said this was to give thanks to the staff members for their work over the last year. but of course, as with that video that surfaced of the former spokesperson for the prime minister, suggesting that that party was held, and that of course, news from cnn affiliate itv that the prime minister's press chief himself was present at this party, handing out mock awards and certificates to up to 50 people, there is a real sense of anger and frustration, of course, many people were unable to meet with their loved ones over the christmas period last year due to those covid restrictions. social gatherings were strictly prohibited and the government was pretty stringent in enforcing those rules and calling for christmas parties and gatherings and such to not be held during the winter period. and of course, many people losing loved ones over those
winter months due to coronavirus. there's a real sense of anger and recent polling has shown that 54% of adults in britain now think that the prime minister should resign. as the governor tries to bring into force these tougher measures to stem the spread of the omicron variant ahead of the christmas period, there is a concern now that the government won't be able to convince members of the public to adhere to these rules, given that government officials in downing street last year failed to adhere to these regulations. now, the prime minister and government have asserted that covid regulations weren't broken. but an investigation is being carried out by the cabinet secretary and it remains to be seen whether or not this is true. >> i wonder how they contain the danl f damage from this one. appreciate it. concerns are growing that the united states has entered a new winter surge of the coronavirus. average cases have increased well over 60% in just the last month and are now hovering around 120,000 new infections a
day. hospitalizations are rising, as well, and more than half have been in midwestern states like michigan and ohio. the delta variant is still dominant strain in the u.s., with the omicron variant has been detected in at least 27 states as of friday. turkey has detected its first case caused by the omicron variant. the country's health minister said saturday that six cases have been detected in istanbul and western ismir province according to state media and british scientists ran computer models of the omicron variant's impact and think it could cause a bigger surge in covid hospitalizations than the one we saw last winter. and the european union rolls out vaccines for children ages 5 and up this week. the pfizer vaccine is approved for use in children. south africa plans to roll out boosters for eligible residents by the end of the month. the omicron variant is pushing case numbers up, but many doctors say there it mainly
causes mild infections. our david mckenzie joins us live now from johannesburg. health officials seem to tread a careful line there between taking urgent action to fight this variant, and tamping down some of the more alarmest rhetoric about omicron we're seeing elsewhere. is that right? >> reporter: that's right. and the level of fear that the announcement of this variant engendered across the world just two weeks ago hasn't necessarily translated on to the ground. yes, here in south africa, you've seen a very rapid rise in cases, but at this stage of the pandemic, many clinicians are saying, it's more about whether they are severe cases and deaths, that is the critical factor. at this stage, it hasn't translated into that. they warn that because of the nature of this virus, you do have to wait some time to truly assess that. but doctors, surveillance workers, and people that i've talked to over the many months
of this pandemic say that they are seeing far less severe cases at this point, in this way, than in the previous waves. as an example, you know, there are fewer serious cases in hospitals. those people that do get to hospital because of covid are there for a shorter amount of time. we should get more indications, concrete indications of this in the coming days, from researchers. but at this stage, it is not the atrophy that was feared. kim? >> and so in response, they're pushing vaccines and boosters in particular, but what about the lockdowns? i remember south africa had very hard lockdowns at the start of the pandemic. are they going to do the same thing now? >> well, we'll know again in the coming days, because president cyril ramaphosa is having a meeting with his command council in this coming week. in the past, that has precipitated into harsher measures. of course, we are entering the holiday period here in south
africa, where many people travel outside of their home provinces and have large gatherings. there is, you know, some worry from those who look at it this way, that there could be restrictions put in place. but so little is known about this variant. those initial clinical indications are still pretty early. and this government has shown that it has taken a cautious approach and rather tightened restrictions than have a run on the hospitals. as you said, south africa had a very strict lockdown for the first five or so weeks. it's unclear how they will move with this variant, kim. >> all right. we'll be watching to see. david mckenzie in johannesburg, thank you so much. coming up on "cnn newsroom," israel is hosting this year's miss universe pageant, but controversy ensued when one attendant refused to pull out after the government told her to. we'll have a report after the break. stay with us.
shadow on contestants caught in political crosshairs. hadas gold has the story. >> reporter: sparkles, citstiles and swimsuits. 80 misuniverse contestants have taken over the southern resort city of ilat for the preliminary stages of the 70 u.s. annual pageant. but these spotlights pushing the competition into another. the decision to host miss universe in israel pulling some of the contestants into the political spotlight. south africa's government withdrawing support over what they say is israel's treatment of palestinians. calling on their attendant, la leyla miswani to pull out, but miss south africa refused to bend to the pressure and will compete. >> everything that's miss universe competition, it's not about politics, it's about us as humans and us as strong women. >> on the other end of the spectrum, contestants from places like bahrain and morocco, countries that were part of last year's historic normalization
agreements with israel, strutting across an israeli stage, something that may have been unimaginable just a few years ago. >> i hope that they have a more rich understanding of this area. they've gotten to meet a lot of israelis. we have contestants here from other areas in the middle east, so i think they're all going come from this experience learning a lot and hopefully taking that back to their home country. >> reporter: typically, thousands of fans from all over the world would descend upon the miss universe competition, but the israel shutting its borders to foreign nationals over fierce of the omicron variant, these seats will be filled with mostly locally. israel's strict covid measures, like vaccine requirements and regular testing creating close calls for some contestants. one of the women testing positive when she arrived, getting out of quarantine just in time for the preliminaries. >> we have taken every necessary precaution needed. i got my booster before coming here. we have masks. you'll see that we always have masks. it's stricter here than in the states, in regards to protocol.
i feel like we're taking every necessary precaution. >> reporter: with hundreds of millions expected to tune into the broadcast of the final, no politics or virus will keep these 80 women from competing for the crown. hadas gold, cnn, ilat, israel. the reclusive artist banksy is selling t-shirts to raise funds that are facing consequences for removal of a statue in bristol, england. four people were charged by police over the removal and are due to go to trial next week. the shirt depicts an empty plinth where the statue once stood with the words "bristol" above it and costs $33. that wraps this hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm kim brunhuber and i'll be back in just a moment with more news. please do sfwus.
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hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the united states, canada, and all around the world. i'm kim brunhuber. ahead on "cnn newsroom" -- >> they're going to lose a whole lot of people. one block from my grandparents' house, there's no house standing. there's no house standing and we don't know where all of those people are. >> entire areas wiped away. the destruction and devastation after 34 people tore through six states. h