hello and welcome to bbc news. i'm ben boulos. these are our top stories. flooding in china kills at least 25 people in henan province, following the heaviest rainfall since records began. commuters in henan have had to force their way out of the subway train. translation: we broke i a window so air could get in, otherwise we would have choked. america's senior general acknowledges the taliban now controls half the districts in afghanistan as us forces prepared to complete their withdrawal. iam i am saaremaa kins live in tokyo, where in the last few minutes, the director of tomorrow's olympic opening ceremony has been fired for
past comments about the holocaust.— past comments about the holocaust. ,, , . ., _ holocaust. us life expectancy folds by 1-5 — holocaust. us life expectancy folds by 1.5 years _ holocaust. us life expectancy folds by 1.5 years due - holocaust. us life expectancy folds by 1.5 years due to - folds by 1.5 years due to covid—19, the biggest one year decline since world war ii. —— falls. hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. flooding has caused devastation in the central chinese province of henan after the heaviest rainfall it has ever recorded. 200,000 people have been moved to safer areas after flooding in an underground train system. commuters were trapped inside carriages. at least 25 have died. the military has warned that a major dam could collapse at any time and soldiers have been
mobilised to try and divert rivers that have burst their banks. chinese scientists say global warming has made china's annual flood season much more dangerous. our china correspondent, robin brant, sent this report from zhengzhou. passengers on an underground train, trying to escape the approaching floodwater. instead, though, they found themselves standing still, silent, holding on as the levels rose around them. translation: the water was at shoulder level. . a child and i both nearly gave up. we were worn out. but i used my arm to hang on, and that's why i'm bruised. others in the carriage said air was the problem. translation: we broke half of a window so air could get l in, otherwise we would have choked. at least a dozen people lost their lives as the water overran the tunnels and then the trains. above ground, others faced a terrifying torrent.
the muddy, brown waters of the yellow river trying to sweep them away. this was just one example of an impromptu rescue effort that succeeded. the impact of the floods has been widespread, the city of zhengzhou is the worst hit, at one point it had almost a year's worth of rainfall in just three days. over a million people have been affected. in the last few days, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from in or around this city and millions more warned about the impending floods, but the most troubling question that remains amidst the stench of dirty water here is: "how was it that a station on this line, on an underground metro system that's less than ten years old, came to be overwhelmed by rainwater and passengers left to die on the platform?" china has mobilised its army, but not its leader. in a brief statement, president xijinping called
for "improvements" to the system for early warnings. measures that are likely to be needed more as chinese scientists admit these once—in—a—millennia rains could become more frequent as global warming makes for more dangerous weather. robin brant, bbc news, zhengzhou in eastern china. staying with this story, let's see some new pictures that have just come in from zhengzhou, where the flooding has left vehicles stacked on top of one another at the entrance to a road tunnel. this after major roads turned to rivers and cars were swept along by the strong currents. looking now at some of the other main news of the day. the us has reached a deal with germany to allow completion of the nord stream to gas pipeline. the project will double russian gas exports to germany. there have been concerns over moscow using the energy is leveraged to exert political control in europe. as part of the deal, germany has
committed to take steps including sanctions to prevent that from happening. so, why is the us involved in whether or not a gas pipeline in europe goes ahead? the bbc�*s david willis explains. the last three american administrations have all expressed their dislike of the nord stream 2 gas pipeline. they believe it potentially gives russia too much leverage, too much control over european energy supply, for the simple reason that it will take gas directly from russia to germany, bypassing ukraine and poland. well, now, in an act of pragmatism, i think you could say, president biden has said that he is willing to waive sanctions that have been imposed on the people, on the german company constructing this pipeline, because it's virtually built. 98% of it has already been
constructed, the biden administration believes there's nothing really they can do now to prevent it from coming into use. so it's better to leverage its relationship with germany, the biggest ally in europe, of course, and this follows chancellor angela merkel�*s visit to washington, dc, last week at which the subject was raised. so the biden administration, believes it does not really have any other choice, backing this project but with some reservations, it must be said. is there any opposition to this agreement, david? well, particularly from poland and the ukraine, ben, who are bypassed by the nord stream 2 pipeline. they've both issued a statement saying they believe this represents a political, military and energy threat for the ukraine and for central europe, also saying it increases the russian potential to destabilise the security situation in europe.
they have called on germany and the united states to address what they call the security crisis in the region. the united states, for its part, ben, has said it does not much like this pipeline either but it's going along with it. any word from russia on all of this? the russians, well, they are saying that this is a benefit both to europe, to germany and to other parts of europe, but that is not likely to be something that the americans agree with. as i say, they believe that this is potentially linking with germany the supply of energy to europe in general more vulnerable to political pressure. david willis there for us. our correspondent in washington, dc.
let's round up other news this hour. several us states have unveiled a proposed settlement under which pharmaceutical companies accused of fuelling the opioid academic would pay compensation. the agreement would need the support of all states. smoke from the huge wildfires burning on the west coast of america has drifted all the way across the continent to cast a haze over the east coast. officials in new york issued warnings for pregnant women and the elderly, due to poor quality, with cities as far apart as washington and toronto also affected. the disgraced former hollywood producer harvey weinstein has appeared in court in los angeles, where he pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of sexual assault. he had been extradited to california from new york where he is serving a 23—year prison sentence for rape. america's top general has acknowledged the taliban has "strategic momentum" in afghanistan. the general said the afghan army was consolidating its forces and trying to make sure the militants did not take control of any major
population centres. but he said with the us withdrawal now 95% complete, the taliban control half the districts in the country. a significant amount of territory has been seized over the course of six, eight, ten months, sort of thing, by the taliban. so the strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the taliban. i spoke to sethjones, senior vice president and director of the international security program at the center for strategic and international studies. i asked what does that phrase, "strategic momentum" mean, in on—the—ground, real terms? well, i mean, what it means is that one point, maybe a year ago we had a rough stalemate, now we have in the country the taliban overrunning multiple district centres right now. and we see the encirclement of a number of cities, kunduz in the north, some districts around kabul
itself, the capital. the taliban are positioning themselves on urban areas of the country which they do not control at this point. so, how important is the territory they have currently taken control of? how much of a base does that give them, if they were to trying to, as one would imagine, gain control over the majority of the country? well, i think the numbers about districts that they control right now are a bit misleading. many of the districts are not very populated. in fact, the government and its supporters controlling most of the urban areas, where the vast majority of the population lives. but what's in danger now is the taliban are encircling cities like kunduz, kabul, cities in the provinces, and that is the threat right now, that we will start to see
urban fighting, which is bound to be bloody. has enough being done in terms of training and supporting the afghan military and the afghan government to enable them to resist this push forward by the taliban and the militants? well, the challenge for the afghan government right now is that its two major backers, the europeans, including the british and americans, are gone in any meaningful way. the taliban have their major backers, pakistan provides direct assistance, the russians, iranians, among many others. it puts the afghan government at a severe disadvantage in the balance of power. the us, though, could continue to provide assistance, including military assistance, to the afghan national army, and it could also provide some air support. at this point, it is unclear whether it will do the latter for any type of air support. if the taliban continues
to take more districts, more territory, what sort of a risk does that pose to afghanistan's neighbouring countries and indeed, countries beyond ? well, the biggest single risk from a humanitarian perspective is internally displaced persons and refugees. if you are a neighbour of afghanistan, they have lived through this in the 1980s and 1990s, where large—scale war pushed refugees into iran, into pakistan, into areas of central asia. i think the additional concern based on the ability to move into europe is that we will start to see growing numbers try to get into europe, in part because there are european countries on the ground. a flood of refugees is the biggest humanitarian concern for the region. seth jones from the center for strategic and international studies.
stay with us on bbc news. we will be crossing live to the olympics injust will be crossing live to the olympics in just a few minutes. mission control: we see - you coming down the ladder now. neil armstrong: that's one small step for man, | one giant leap for mankind. a catastrophic engine fire is being blamed tonight. for the first crash - in the 30—year history of concorde, the world's only supersonic airliner. _ it was one of the most vivid symbols of the violence and hatred that tore apart the state of yugoslavia. but now, a decade later, it's been painstakingly rebuilt and opens again today. there's been a 50% decrease in sperm quantity, and an increase in malfunctioning sperm unable to swim properly. crowd: three, two, one! thousands of households across the country are suspiciously- quiet this lunchtime - as children bury their noses in the final instalment of harry potter. -
hello. this is bbc world news. the latest headlines. flooding in china kills at least 25 people and causes millions of dollars worth of damage following the heaviest rainfall there since records began. america's senior general acknowledges the eight hour controls half the districts in afghanistan as us forces prepared to complete their withdrawal. life expectancy in the united states last year suffered its biggest drop since the second world war. data showed the average us lifespan dropped from almost 79 years in 2019 to just over 77 years in 2020. among black and hispanic americans it was twice as bad, dropping by three years. earlier i spoke to a co—author
of the study on how covid—19 widened the life expectancy gap across racial groups and countries. i asked across racial groups and countries. iasked him if across racial groups and countries. i asked him if he was surprised by the latest figures. of course we anticipated a steep decrease in life expectancy around the world, given the large loss of life from covid. but we were not prepared for the size of the decrease in life expectancy that we saw in the united states. the country has had more covid—19 deaths than any other country and among the highest per capita death rate but, still, this drop in life expectancy is something that this country has not seen since world war ii. when you have something like a pandemic which, until you start having interventions such as vaccination programmes and so on, can sweep through the entire population regardless of background or difference. why do we see this discrepancy between different ethnic groups and countries in the terms of impact on life expectancy that covid—19 has had?
the disparity in health outcomes for covid—19 is just a new example of a very old problem in the united states. for generations, people of colour had a higher death rate, shorter life expectancy, higher rate of disease. reflecting systemic racism and other structural factors in our society that systematically keep people of colour from the conditions they need for good health. so we expect to a worse outcome for covid—19 and this is a population that has higher exposure to the virus in this country, less access to healthcare, greater comorbidities that increase complications and greater economic vulnerability. still, the size of this decrease in life expectancy wasjust stunning. three years in the black population and nearly four years in our study in the hispanic population. so what you're saying,
it is not a case that it is a genetic link that causes this great drop in life expectancy, it is things like access to healthcare. so something can be done about it if more funding is provided to the areas where there is community predominantly lives. exactly. there is no biological reason for why skin colour should increase your death rate from a virus. race is a social construct and these disparities are produced by our society. stephen wolfe they're speaking to me earlier. turning now to the olympics where there has been some breaking news. the director of friday's opening ceremony has been sacked. let's get more on this breaking story with sarah mulkerrins who was in tokyo. what do we know about this sacking, sarah? it in tokyo. what do we know about this sacking, sarah?— this sacking, sarah? it has been a significant - this sacking, sarah? it has - been a significant development, really, in the last 30 minutes orso really, in the last 30 minutes or so here in tokyo. the news we have so far is that copier
she has been fired, as you say. it has all happened very quickly and it basically comes just a few hours ago a centre that exposes anti—semitism found an old common —— comedy routine that was filmed and in it you could see that esther kobayashi was there and he made a reference to the holocaust. this had obviously emerged and then a few minutes ago we had then a few minutes ago we had the statement from the president of the tokyo olympics. he announced that he has since been fired. we know that the opening ceremony is due to take place on friday so just over 2a hours away. this has been a fraught buildup in terms of issues like this because it is this the third senior official who has been fired in the buildup to this. a chief resigned a couple of months ago after suggesting that a female comedian could
appearas that a female comedian could appear as an olympic pig. also we had the head of the organising committee resigning after he had to apologise for making sexist comments. earlier this week in tokyo one of the composers for the music for the opening ceremony on friday had his work removed from the event because of allegations of bullying disabled children when he was a student. so significant news coming through in the last 30 minutes or so. now, hashimoto, the current head of the tokyo olympics say they are currently reviewing they are currently reviewing the plans for that opening ceremony which is due to take place injust over 2a ceremony which is due to take place in just over 2a hours also here in tokyo. so some significant news, ben.- significant news, ben. aside from all the _ significant news, ben. aside from all the issues - significant news, ben. aside from all the issues around i significant news, ben. aside i from all the issues around the logistics and the politics of the olympics, what updates do we have on the actual sporting action itself?—
action itself? this book got under way _ action itself? this book got under way on _ action itself? this book got under way on wednesday. | action itself? this book got i under way on wednesday. we action itself? this book got - under way on wednesday. we had the softball and the women's football and here on thursday we will have the men's football, the softball has been continuing. japan is the host and they won gold in beijing, the last time that softball was at the games. it is back here so essentially they are defending champions. they opened with a win on wednesday and are currently in action now against mexico. it is scoreless there in the second innings. they will be looking for a second wind to back them up. earlier in the soft all, usa b canada. there is a round robin format so there are six teams that will play each other and then the top two teams will each other in the gold medal match and when that concludes that round robin format. but it has been a fractured buildup to these games, hasn't it, over these games, hasn't it, over the last one and a half years. the olympics were delayed amid the pandemic and we have all been living a lockdown life ourselves. the athletes, it is difficult for them and many of them will be used to having big
training centres and being able to get out and about to prepare for these games. so many of them have had to try some very inventive and unique ways of getting ready for these delayed tokyo games. bathtubs, balconies and kitchens. here is how some olympic athletes have trained for tokyo during lockdowns around the world. no treadmill was no problem for the 5000 metre runner paul chelimo. the us athlete took this jokey approach to indoor training. anouk verge—depre made use of her sister and nearby balcony to keep her beach volleyball skills sharp. at least the swiss player won't have to worry about trees in tokyo. the philippines' hidilyn diaz swapped the gym for the kitchen allowing her to a live stream her weightlifting sessions. she also helped raise money for food parcels for hundreds of families.
boxer ginny fuchs made her own gym outside — breaking rocks on a hillside with her us training team. while up on the roof, cuban wrestler daniel gregoric worked out with a little help from his coach. he went to his coach's home to train and it was just enough for the indian ten metre shooter to practise in. and ray also trained inside heading to a parking garage but packing a shotgun rather than an air rifle meant the lebanese athlete did not pull the trigger. all is not rosy with northern ireland, still at the heart lots of different ways that these athletes have been training over the last year and a half in the co— coronavirus pandemic. it is a big talking point in the buildup these games and we have at the latest
figures come out from the organisers of the games. two further athletes have tested positive in the olympic village. 11 cases in total among support staff and personnel here so that takes the caseload to 86 positive tests so far of those arriving into tokyo. tests so far of those arriving into tokym— into tokyo. thank you very much, sarah. _ into tokyo. thank you very much, sarah. sarah - into tokyo. thank you very - much, sarah. sarah mulkerrins therefore us in tokyo full in therefore us in tokyo full in the uk, the mayor of liverpool says that she and many others by the decision of unesco to strip liverpool of the status of the world heritage site. liverpool was awarded the title in 2004, recognising its rich heritage is a major trading centre and port and its architectural landmarks. world heritage committee says that developments in the city's waterfront have resulted in a irreversible loss. colin patterson spent the day there. liverpool, a city with ambitions to build and regenerate, ambitions which have led to it being stripped of its unesco
world heritage status after a secret valat. the site of liverpool is deleted. the title brought prestige and helped attract international tourism. liverpool was chosen because of its history as a trading centre and the splendour of its waterside buildings. it has been removed as unesco believe new development have led to a serious deterioration of landmark liverpool liverpool are playing the victim here. that is not the fault of unesco. this is devastating for liverpool. it's an embarrassment for liverpool, we've lost the status symbol of being up there with the taj mahal, the pyramids and the great wall of china. unesco say a major problem is everton�*s new stadium, which will start being built later this month in a disused dock. liverpool council say
the new ground is more important than the world heritage title. i would say it is definitely, because at the moment the dock is completely decaying, it doesn't serve any social value to the community around it. we wanted to open it up, that's what we thought unesco were about as well, putting heritage and out of our community for people to learn about it. but this decision even affects ice cream vans. are you going to repaint the van? it would cost me a lot of money if i have to. i don't think unesco are going to come after you. i hope not. liverpool city council say it will try to appeal the decision but according to unesco, there is one less place of wonder in the world. colin paterson, bbc news, liverpool. just before we go a reminder of our top story. flooding has caused devastation in the central chinese province of henan after the heaviest rainfall it has had since records began. ﬁgs rainfall it has had since records began. rainfall it has had since records bean. �* , . records began. as always you can reach _ records began. as always you can reach me _ records began. as always you can reach me on _ records began. as always you can reach me on most - records began. as always you can reach me on most of - records began. as always you can reach me on most of the | can reach me on most of the team here on social media. you
will find me on twitter. we're still in the middle of this heatwave, or actually just past it. some thunderstorms on the way too in the coming days, which should break the heat. but it certainly has been hot in northern ireland. it was wednesday's hot spot in county tyrone — 31.3 degrees — a provisional record for northern ireland, only beating saturday's value byjust 0.1 degree. on the satellite picture, we can see some clouds to the west of our neighbourhood. that is a developing area of low pressure, and it will be nearing us over the next few days, pushing the high pressure away, and this is going to bring some slow—moving thunderstorms. we will talk about that in just a second. i still have to mention the met office warning of extreme heat for the south—west of the uk and for northern ireland lasting into friday, and this is to highlight also the high temperatures overnight, notjust by day.
in fact, you can see how warm it is still through the middle of the night on thursday — it will have been around 18—20 celsius across some parts of the country. through the night, into the early hours of the morning, it is clear skies, may be a bit of cloud first thing across northern and eastern scotland, perhaps the north—east of england. that should mostly clear through the afternoon, but the temperatures will be skyrocketing, in fact hot enough for some local downpours and thunderstorms to develop across some central parts of the country. notice the wind is mostly an easterly, a very light easterly, so it's pushing the heat further towards the east, so that means the highest temperatures, again, on thursday could well be in northern ireland — we could well beat another record, that remains to be seen. possibly up to 32 but for most of us it will be in the mid to high 20s. here's friday, still a very warm day. wouldn't necessarily class it as a very hot day, but warm enough.
temperatures into the mid—or high 20s. notice some blue, some rain here, some thunderstorms brewing just to the south—west of us. this is an area of low pressure that will drag in fresher atlantic air, and push the hot air towards more eastern parts of europe. these could be very slow—moving thunderstorms, and slow moving thunderstorms can bring an awful lot of rainfall in a short space of time, and that's to come this weekend — saturday and sunday — especially across the southern half of the uk. something to bear in mind.
this is bbc news. i'm ben boulos, with the headlines. flooding in china kills at least 25 people in henan province, following the heaviest rainfall there since records began. climate scientists say extreme weather events are becoming more likely and severe. america's most senior general has acknowledged the taliban have strategic momentum in afghanistan. they now controls half the districts in the country. general mark milley said the us withdrawal was now 95% complete, but insisted a taliban takeover it was not a foregone conclusion. the sporting action begins in tokyo with a shock defeat for the us women's football team. ahead of friday's official olympic opening ceremony, japan's former prime minister, shinzo abe, has decided not to attend the event due to the state of emergency.