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Two Dead in Plane Crash; 182 Passengers Treated for Injuries; Asiana CEO Says Engines Not to Blame; Crash Probe Focus Still Unclear

Aired July 7, 2013 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And that is where we begin this NEW DAY SUNDAY. Live from San Francisco on the crash of flight 214.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The back end is hit and flies up in the air, and everybody but Ted (ph) goes up to the ceiling.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the crash was fatal, it seems a miracle that more didn't die. You'll hear one survivor's terrifying story.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And as more images and more answers emerge, there's still the question, who's responsible? A former transportation chief says she has the answer.

BROWN: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'm Pamela Brown.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. 6:00 here on the East Coast, 3:00 in San Francisco. Thanks for starting this NEW DAY with us.

BROWN: And we start our special coverage this morning in San Francisco, and that's where an Asiana Airlines flight bounced down a runway and burst into flames. At least two people are dead and nearly 200 others are injured.

BLACKWELL: Yes, some had just bumps and bruises, but others are in critical condition this morning. We know that there were some people with spinal injuries and there's a huge range that come in that category. There's one child from that flight that was in critical condition, still in critical condition. Miguel Marquez joins us live from the San Francisco International Airport.

Miguel, good morning. What do we know?


The CEO of Asiana Airlines saying that it was not engine failure for this plane, leaving the obvious, that perhaps there was human error that happened here. We also know that some of the survivors were found in the water of this accident and the flight crew on this plane actually asked some of the emergency responders for knives so they could cut people loose from their seats.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): 11:34 a.m., Asiana Flight 214 had been in the air just over 10 hours. Passengers report the pilot increased engine power seconds before crashing.

ELLIOTT STONE, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT 214 (voice-over): It seemed like we were a little bit high and, like, we could see the tarmac down below us and so we were coming down kind of sharp. And then, right when it started to coast, like for the landing, all of a sudden the engine all (INAUDIBLE), like he sped up all kinds (ph), like he -- the pilot knew he was short.

MARQUEZ: The plane's tail struck the sea wall at the very start of the runway 28 left. The tail disintegrated, the engine on the left wing disappeared. The plane whipping sideways across the runway. Witnesses report hearing an explosion, then a large fireball. The plane's fuselage, mostly intact, finally came to a stop. The right engine next to the fuselage, smoking.

STONE: The back end was hit, flies up in the air and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling and then it just kind of drifted for a little bit, probably a good 300 yards, then tips over, the fire starts. Everybody's, you know, pushing the doors out.

MARQUEZ: From the violent landing, passengers started to emerge.

On this video, shot by a witness in the terminal, you can see the plane's emergency chutes deployed and people using them to get off the plane. And in this video from passenger David Yoon, a Samsung executive, it shows people, some of them even holding on to their bags, as they staggered from the plane. His tweet is shocking as the incident itself - "I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Everyone seems fine. I'm OK. Surreal." Witnesses shocked that anyone could survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just pancaked immediately. And then it just kept sliding and sliding and sliding and then it finally stopped and you could see how the fuselage had kept buckling and buckling many times. I'm surprised it didn't come apart altogether. And it was unreal.

MARQUEZ: Helicopter pictures show the trail of destruction, the impact on the stone embankment at the runway's beginning. One set of landing gear, wheels. The plane stabilizers, the very tip of the tail, debris from the plane littering the runway. Officials say there was no sign of trouble before the plane crashed. The weather, ideal, a clear day. All traffic using visual flight rules to land.

TOWER: Asiana 214 San Francisco tower (INAUDIBLE) clear for land.


MARQUEZ: Air traffic controllers can be heard guiding in Asiana 214 and then you can hear others in the room alerting to the crash and the stress in the voice of the air traffic controller as the emergency unfolds.

TOWER: What happened over there?

MARQUEZ: Air traffic controllers continue talking to the pilot of the now crashed Asiana 214, assuring the pilot that emergency personnel are responding.


TOWER: Asiana 214, heavy emergency vehicles are responding. We have everyone on their way.

MARQUEZ: Passenger Elliott Stone says some of the injured were thrown from the plane.

STONE: Twenty minutes later, this lady just appears from like 500 yards away, just like crippled, just walking in the plane. So, we start running over and there's like another five bodies that were like 500 yards away that nobody saw. And so we're running over there calling the ambulance and stuff. But the ambulances took like 20, 30 minutes to get there. It was pretty ridiculous.

MARQUEZ: Despite the clear day, pilots say landing at San Francisco International can be tricky. This Google Earth image shows the final approach, runway 28 left and right close to each other. The runway starting right at the water's edge.


MARQUEZ: Now, the Asiana CEO also telling CNN that there was no emergency indication given to passengers before that plane landed, confirming what we believe, that there was - that passengers knew nothing before that plane crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on the ground and a team, an investigative team from Seoul are also on their way here.

Back to you guys.

BROWN: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

And we have heard that even though passengers weren't warned of something happening, they had a hunch.


BROWN: We've heard several passengers say they had a hunch something just wasn't right upon landing.

BLACKWELL: Chaos, then quiet, and then that rush out of the plane, yes.

BROWN: Well, Flight 214 was one of Boeing's 777 model jets. The aircraft manufacturer released a statement and here's what it says. It saying "Boeing extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 accident in San Francisco, as well as its wishes for the recovery of those injured. Boeing will join the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board at their request to provide technical assistance to their investigation."

And speaking of, the go team for the NTSB has now arrived on the scene of the crash. Their official Twitter account sent out this image right here earlier this morning. And take a look here. You can see investigator right outside the plane examining what remains, but it's what this other picture we're about to show you. It shows inside the plane. This is what's so striking. You can get a closer look inside the charted plane. And as you see there in the back right, where the Twitter sign is -


BROWN: You can see those oxygen masks deployed and the rows of seating thrown about inside that plane. Tough to see, but if you look up close --

BLACKWELL: If we can keep this picture up.


BLACKWELL: I mean just imagine, so many of us fly for jobs or travel. This is the summer travel season. You're inside that plane and you kind of listen to the instructions, but this is what happens when those are important. The plane goes dark. Those seats - I don't know if you can tell on your television -- are kind of slammed over. As Pamela said, the masks have fallen, the overhead luggage has fallen, there's smoke, there's fire. I mean that is the worst nightmare of anyone who flies, but imagine being in this. And 305 of the 307 leave with their lives. Of course, we know this morning that, unfortunately, two Chinese women did die, but --

BROWN: But it's amazing when you look at this that there weren't more fatalities and more injuries.


BROWN: And San Francisco General Hospital, well, it's the only level one trauma center in the city. And as you can imagine, they've been inundated with some of these injured patients.

BLACKWELL: They had been, right after the crash, the staff pitched tents outside the ER to handle this huge rush of patients. And that's where CNN's Sara Sidner is, right outside the hospital.

What do we know about the number of patients and their injuries there at that hospital, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that there were 26 children and 27 adults who have been treated here at San Francisco General. We know there were 45 patients treated at Stanford Medical Center, which is another level one trauma center, which is about 45 minutes south of here. And so we know 52 patients here, 45 there, a total of 182 patients that have been taken to 11 bay area hospitals. We can tell you about some of the injuries because the hospital spokesman came out several hours ago and just talked about some of the injuries that they have been treating. Many of them are, you know, cuts and bruises, but also broken bones, spinal injuries, so we're talking very serious injuries, and then we do know that six people have been in critical condition. They're also dealing with internal injuries, very dangerous as well.

And so we're waiting to find out just exactly how many patients are still inside. We know that six have been released from San Francisco General and six are in critical condition.

I want to let you listen to one of the passengers who survived this --

BLACKWELL: All right, so clearly we're having some problems with Sara's shot, but we do know, again, as she said, 52 people at that hospital, 26 of them children.

BROWN: Oh, unbelievable. And one in critical condition. And as she said, there's a range of injuries from very serious injuries, like spinal cord injuries, to bumps and bruises.

BLACKWELL: And especially with these children, you know, some of the injuries you can see. Some of the injuries you can repair with some medication or an ointment or surgery. But when you're that young, there are probably some psychological injuries as well that we won't be able to see just yet.

BROWN: Emotional scars.

BLACKWELL: But we'll try to get back to Sara at San Francisco general hospital.

BROWN: And flight 214 originated in Shanghai right before stopping in Seoul, Korea, the home base for Asiana Airlines. From there it was a scheduled nonstop flight to San Francisco.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Diana Magnay is in Seoul with the latest response on this deadly crash.

What do we know at this hour from the officials there, either from the government or from Asiana Airlines?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Asiana Airlines, the CEO has given a press conference talking about what he knows. He says he doesn't think that this was engine failure. This was one of their newer planes bought in 2006, this 777. And obviously we've heard also from transport officials here that it would be easy to locate the black box, seeing as this plane crashed on the runway. But it may take as long as two years to actually fathom out what the cause is. And there are a team of Korean investigators on route to San Francisco right now to help the NTSB in their investigation.

The CEO really just an abject apology to the people involved. Let's just take a listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am very sorry to worry families of passengers, as well as our people. I bow my head in apology.


MAGNAY: He said that the pilots were extremely experienced. The lead pilot, who was flying at the time, was a veteran pilot of Asiana. He had been with the company since 1996, had around 10,000 flight hours, and some more details about those two teenaged Chinese girls who lost their lives in this accident.

BROWN: So sad. Diana Magnay reporting for us from Seoul, South Korea. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, as Diana told us, the South Korean officials are in route, but the U.S. officials, NTSB investigators, are on the ground now trying to figure out why Flight 214 crash landed yesterday. After the break, we'll talk with a former transportation department inspector general who says the explanation is already clear to her.


BLACKWELL: Fifteen minutes after the hour now as we continue our special coverage of the crash landing of Flight 214. NTSB go-teams, they've been on the ground in San Francisco for about six hours now and they'll be joined by the South Korean investigators and officials from Asiana Airlines and Boeing. Now, terrorism does not appear to be the cause of yesterday's crash. But besides that, the NTSB chief says everything is on the table.

BROWN: Joining us now via Skype from Charlotte, North Carolina, is Mary Schiavo. She's a former inspector general for the Federal Department of Transportation and an aviation attorney who represents crash victims and their families.

Mary, thank you for being here with us. We heard from Asiana's CEO. He says he doesn't think that this was engine failure, and this corroborates with what you think. As you've made clear, you think the pilot is to blame, is that right?

MARY SCHIAVO, FMR. INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DOT: Well, the pilot and the instrumentation or lack thereof. We have a lot of clues in this accident both from the -- we'll get them from the black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, but also from the absence of some instrumentation.

Now, on this particular runway -- and of course it was notice to all pilots, there was no instrument landing system and that would have also meant that they didn't have accurate glide scope (ph) information. And then there are visual lights that help, called the vasi (ph) lights, the visual slope approach, slope indicators. Those were not available either. But on a clear day, they were given a visual clearance to land, which shouldn't be a problem. But if you're used to having all the instrumentation, sometimes that can catch pilots off guard, doing a full visual without any of the usual instrumentations at major airports around the country.

BLACKWELL: So what will they want to know from these four pilots assigned? I mean what are the questions they're asking these pilots?

SCHIAVO: Well, they'll really just go from "a" to "z" on the flight. You know, what did you learn in your pre-briefing before the flight? When the crews took over and changed, what were the briefings? When did you get the updates? When did you check the available instrumentation-equipment at SFO? When did you start the approach? Were you doing like a 12-mile straight in to the runway or did you turn in from the parallel approach to the runway to make a straight-on approach?

They'll want to know exactly the whole sequence of the flight. And then, the most crucial question will be, when was additional power applied? Eyewitnesses and ear witnesses said it looked like the plane had come and touched down, and then the engines were revved up, more power was given to the plane. Or did that happen before the plane impacted the sea wall at SFO? Those are all critical questions which will make the difference as to the judgment the NTSB will apply to the pilots' skill and performance.

BROWN: Mary, aviation experts are saying that the Boeing 777 actually has a pretty good safety record, but there has been one memorable crash with the Boeing 777. That was at London Heathrow Airport involving a British Airways Boeing 777. It also happened upon landing. But how is this crash different from that crash?

SCHIAVO: Well, in that crash, icing was indicated. The weather was such, it had been a long flight in cold weather, and they attribute that one to icing having built up. There was a problem with icing in the fuel and it affected the engines.

Here, it was a beautiful day in San Francisco and there's no indication of icing. And another clue comes from those eyewitnesses and ear witnesses, so very valuable, because they heard the engines increase. If the pilots were losing power, had lost power because of some kind of engine failure, it would have sounded differently. They would be losing the engine, not getting engine power. So, once again, those witnesses are very important.

BLACKWELL: All right, Mary Schiavo, thank you so much for offering your expertise on this.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

BROWN: Just amazing details as we learn what went on inside that plane. Up next, we're going to hear from the daughter of one of the survivors who will tell us how heroes stepped up during the chaos to save their fellow passengers. That's right after this break.


BLACKWELL: Twenty-three minutes after the hour now. You know, we've been hearing so many amazing stories about what happened on that plane inside the cabin on this Asiana Flight 214. Earlier this morning, we spoke with Bird Rah.

BROWN: Now her father, Anthony, was actually on that plane. He's now safe at home with family, but you can imagine what that must have been like for Bird when she learned her father was there. Listen to her describe the scene and how some of the heroes on that plane jumped into action after the crash.


BIRD RAH, FATHER WAS ABOARD ASIANA FLIGHT 214 (voice-over): It was a flight attendant who was stuck. You know the inflatable slide that comes out of the emergency doors, it had actually inflated inside the plane, and she was in her seat with the seat belt on, and it blew up, I mean inflated right in front of her. And once it crashed, he said that he saw her leg just kind of hanging midair, and she was moving it, trying to cry for help and she was trying to cry for help, but obviously she couldn't even breathe because it was just inflated in front of her.

And so my father, another gentleman, and actually her husband was also on that flight, they tried to free her and they couldn't deflate it, obviously, because there's no sharp objects allowed on the plane. But eventually a gentleman was able to move it and free her. So, she's at she's at the hospital right now. But, you know, he said it was just very surreal. Everyone was very calm and that the flight attendants were very calm and very professional to escort everybody out.

BLACKWELL: Take us back to that moment when this plane is on the ground, it's burning and your father's telling you the story of what he's seeing and the people around. You mentioned one woman and her leg. What else did he see, these rescues, the people, the other injuries?

RAH: He did mention that there were some heroes that he definitely wanted to praise, including one flight attendant. She was a woman and she was very -- her build was very small, but he said that she was helping men twice her size get out of the plane and that she was very calm and very cooperative with all the passengers on board and he really praised her for being so brave and so courageous and he's been trying to get in contact with her, you know. And he - and he also said the other passengers themselves were very cooperative in -- when they were trying to assist the flight attendant who was trapped. So everybody was just kind of helping each other, which is a relief in a situation like that.


BROWN: Amazing to hear that. You look at that plane and you think, gosh, you would think the first instinct is I'm going to run off of this, I'm going to try to get off out of here as quickly as I can, but as Bird said, so many of the passengers jumped in to help others before they helped themselves, essentially, and stayed calm throughout it all. BLACKWELL: And we see the pictures and it's amazing that people were able to walk away from this situation. We're going to tell you why one survivor says one of the biggest struggles getting out of the wreckage was the language barrier.

BROWN: Plus, getting back on a plane after a crash. We'll talk to an airline expert who once lived through a crash herself.


BROWN: Mortgage rates inched up again this week. Have a look.


BROWN: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back, everyone. Nice to have you with us on this Sunday morning. I'm Pamela Brown.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. This morning's top story, the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board's go team is now on site investigating the accident. They sent out these pictures this morning. Now, for now, the death toll stands at two. Both women were carrying Chinese passports. Witnesses to the crash reported seeing the tail of the plane -- look at this animation -- clip there the edge of the sea wall at the runway like in this animation. And then you see the plane spin around with the plane's belly sliding along the tarmac before it then burst into flames.

BROWN: Survivors say the ten-hour flight across the Pacific was calm ...


BROWN: ... for the entire flight and then turned to chaos in the final seconds. More than 180 survivors were taken to the hospital. CNN's Karin Caifa has the latest.


KARIN CAIFA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Harrowing accounts from survivors of Asiana Flight 214 after a crash landing at San Francisco International Airport.

VEDPAL SINGH, ASIANA FLIGHT 214 PASSENGER: The moment it touched the runway, there was bang.

BEN LEVY, ASIANA FLIGHT 214 PASSENGER: ... that we were going back (inaudible) or maybe we'd go back up for it, and start flying again, you know, trying to improvise another landing, but we went back down again. So it was, as I said, felt like slow motion.

ELLIOT STONE, ASIANA FLIGHT 214 PASSENGER: all of a sudden, the engine was all, like he sped up all kind, like the pilot knew he was short?

CAIFA: Instead of a routine landing, an impact that resulted in smoke and flames.

TOWER: Asiana 214 heavy, San Francisco tower.


TOWER: Asiana 214 heavy, emergency vehicles are responding. We have everyone on their way.

CAIFA: The Boeing 777 was at the very end of a ten-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, with 291 passengers and 16 crew members on board. All have been accounted for.

EDWIN LEE, SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: It is incredible that we have, and very lucky, that we have so many survivors.

CAIFA: Nine Bay Area hospitals treated 182 passengers and crew. By Saturday evening, some were headed home, others still being treated for burns, bruises, fractures and other trauma.

DR. CHRIS BARTON, CHIEF OF EMERGENCY SERVICES, SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL HOSPITAL: Some of them are in shock, some are very tearful, some look stunned.

CAIFA: The investigation continues. In addition to an NTSB team from the nation's capital, South Korea will also send representatives to San Francisco. U.S. officials said there were no signs of terrorism. In Washington, I'm Karin Caifa.


BLACKWELL: Passenger Ben Levy, he knew something was wrong when the Asiana Flight 214 was coming in for a landing. He recalled how the ordinary flight turned quickly to chaos and then calm as the passengers tried to help one another escape the plane.


BEN LEVY, PASSENGER: It sounded like we're about to land. The nose of the plane, as you know, goes up a little bit. And then we full throttle started hitting hard, and then we felt like we were going up again. So, that's why I said I felt like we were going to -- it was to pull one of those -- almost missed landing and go back up and it didn't happen. We just crashed back. So, as I said, if we flipped, none of us would be here to talk about it. It's like a Six Flags show, right? You're tied up to your chair, and then, again, we're skipping on the runway and I felt like we were going back up. I thought maybe we would go back up and start flying again, you know, trying to improvise another landing, but we went back down again. So, as it was -- I said it felt like slow motion. I was still tied to my chair until I unbuckled, but over chair -- the whole row was completely crushed on the chairs behind. It was chaos. You know, first of all, there was a lot of Koreans that might not even speak English that well, but yes, it was disbelief, screaming, a bit of chaos, but I think we managed to get everybody to calm down pretty quickly and really started getting out and not pushing each other, and stepping on each other, and so, it felt like it went pretty fast. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And many of those passengers on the plane, actually, took to social media right after the crash, really giving us the first reports that something had gone wrong on that plane.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, listen to how one passenger on board the jet described the scene. And you'll actually see the passengers trying to get away from the plane before even the ambulances arrived.


DAVID ELIN, PASSENGER: We just crash landed on my flight from Seoul to SFO. The plane hit the runway really hard on the landing and we skidded to the side. I thought we were going to flip over. Everyone seems to be OK, but is shaken up. I don't have shoes on and hit my head pretty hard, but I think I'm OK. As much as I fly, you don't think about this kind of stuff happening. Anyway, everyone seems to be OK, but shaken up. Wow.


BLACKWELL: You look at that video and we know that two passengers lost their lives in this crash. But as the San Francisco mayor Ed Lee said, this could have been much worse.

BROWN: Just looking at the video of the smoke and fire after the crash, some feared for the worst for the other souls in the sky until it was confirmed that, in fact, 305 other passengers managed to survive, some, of course, with very serious injuries. Nancy Steorts is the safety expert and the former chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Commission. Nancy, thank you for being here. You actually survived an American Airlines crash back in the '70s. Now, there's one thing we can all take away from a tragic incident like this, it is not to ignore those flight safety briefings at the start of each flight we take. But Nancy, first off, how do you get back on a plane after going through a crash? I can't imagine how much that would rattle you.

NANCY STEORTS, FMR. CHAIRMAN, U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT COMMISSION: Well, it was very difficult. It actually took me three attempts after I did go through that crash. The first one, I got to the door and left. The second one, I got on the plane and then made them stop the plane before they took off. And the third one, I said to the stewardess, do not let me off this plane. I have too much to do, I travel all over the world and I must get back into the air, which I did.

BLACKWELL: Can you take us to that moment when you know that this is more than just an indelicate landing on the runway, you know that this could be catastrophic? And give us an idea of what was going through the minds of the people on 214.

STEORTS: Well, what -- what happened was that we were coming down, we passed the Washington monument, and I said, I hear something, it doesn't sound right. And the landing gears were not coming down. First they said we're going to go through the tower to make sure that it's not just the indicator light. They went by the tower, and they said, no, the gears were not coming down. They then started pulling up the first class carpeting and going down to see if they could hand take them down. That didn't work either. So, what went on in our minds, what went on in my mind was that the seat that I was in and Nancy Steorts was going to get down to the ground safely. So, I went into a very calm situation. I tried to keep the lady next to me very calm. She was an elderly woman. And we then listened carefully to the crew who were incredible. They told us absolutely what we were going to do. They took off -- they came with these big, black bags and we had to take everything off except a skirt and a blouse and our jewelry, everything, and then we went into survival mode. And it was incredible crew. We knew what we were doing, but the most important thing was we had to know how to exit that plane. Listen carefully to where that exit was going to be, look for another exit in case the plane was going to be on fire, which the pilot said it could be and then went into that mode of that we were getting down, we were getting down safely, and there was no panic. And I just heard on this plane that just went down in San Francisco there was no panic, because you have to survive.

BROWN: Yeah, we're hearing very similar stories of not only flight attendants, but also the passengers really being heroes in those chaotic moments. And Nancy, through your experience, you actually have some safety recommendations for passengers. Can you tell us what some of those recommendations are?

STEORTS: Yes. One thing, be very sure that on every plane that you go on that you listen very carefully to what the steward or stewardess is telling you as far as survival. Number two, if you have the choice, sit on an aisle near an exit, because this way, you're able to get out without anybody impeding your progress. Number three, if possible, wear natural fibers, because if you're wearing synthetics, they can burn much more quickly. And number four, if you're going into a survival mode, be very calm, meditate, pray, and also, help another passenger. That's very, very critical.

BLACKWELL: All right. Safety expert Nancy Steorts, thank you so much for your insight, having survived a crash yourself.

STEORTS: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: You know, as Nancy said, there's that moment of the chaos of something is wrong and then calm. And then we are going to get out of this plane. And we saw that ...

BROWN: And that determination, that will ...

BLACKWELL: Yes, she said Nancy Steorts and this seat were going to get on the ground safely.

BROWN: Yeah. Unbelievable to hear her perspective of things.

And we're actually following some other news this morning. Edward Snowden is a man without a country. The U.S. wants him back, but will a Latin American arrival get him first? The latest twists in the NSA leaker saga, up next.


BLACKWELL: 17 minutes before the top of the hour. We're going to have much more for you on this deadly plane crash in San Francisco, but there are other big stories that we're following. One of them, the confessed NSA leaker Edward Snowden, he may have a new country to call home.

BROWN: Three Latin American nations are indicating they would actually welcome the NSA leaker with open arms. We want to start this morning with CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He's in Moscow for us. And Fred, yesterday when we spoke there were two countries offering Snowden asylum. Now there's a third. Tell us about that.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, the third is Bolivia and the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, has said that the reason why he's offering Edward Snowden asylum in his country is to protest the fact that his plane when it came back from a conference last week in Russia had to land in Austria because several European countries didn't allow him to cross their air space because they thought Morales was harboring Snowden on board. So, that's the third country that is now offering him asylum, but it still seems as though, Pamela, Venezuela is the best option. Certainly, that's what the Russians think. A high member of the Russian parliament came out with a tweet a little earlier today saying that he believes Snowden should take asylum in Venezuela, and this might be "his last chance to get political asylum anywhere." So, certainly, the Russians are looking for him to leave the country as fast as possible. We're not sure whether or not he's going to take up that offer. So far, the Venezuelans say that he's not gotten in touch with them just yet, and they are still waiting for an answer. They say, they will wait until tomorrow, Pamela.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Fred, last hour you left us with a little nugget that there was a flight leaving Moscow headed to Cuba, it was boarding at that time.


BLACKWELL: Any sign of Snowden being on that flight?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, we had our man at the airport who was telling us they just started boarding when we were live last hour. It doesn't appear as though, Edward Snowden was on the plane. Certainly, the person we have at the airport saying he did not see Snowden at the plane. Also, they talked to some passengers who were boarding the plane as well who were going to keep a lookout. It does not appear as though Edward Snowden boarded the plane. And also, there don't appear to have been any cars, any diplomatic cars or anything that went to the plane afterwards. Of course, that whole thing about the Cuba flight is one that is quite dicey. There's one flight a day, an Aeroflot flight that goes from Moscow to Cuba. We believe that if he's going to take a commercial flight, it would be that one, because it would be the only way for him to go to Venezuela that way because there are no direct flights to Venezuela. Normally, the route of that flight actually goes through U.S. air space. They fly along the eastern seaboard. It would be interesting to see whether that flight would be diverted, if, in fact, Edward Snowden were on the plane. We said last hour as well, Evo Morales's flight was grounded. It's a whole different thing to try and stop a Russian jetliner from crossing your air space.

BROWN: Absolutely. A big unknown there. All right, Frederik Pleitgen in Moscow for us, thank you so much. And right now, we have a CNN senior and international correspondent, Matthew Chance, he is live for us in Caracas this morning with the latest on Venezuela's offer of asylum.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Matthew, the government's offering Snowden asylum there, offering him a home, but is there a response? I mean, what's the level of communication between the Venezuelan government and Edward Snowden?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't seem to be very great at this moment. In fact, the foreign minister of Venezuela has come out and said, well, look, we haven't even spoken to Edward Snowden yet. We're going to do that on Monday, about whether he actually wants to come to Venezuela for asylum. And so, the expectation has moved somewhat. He's obviously not going to be boarding a flight until at least he's being consulted with the Venezuelan government about whether actually he wants to go to the country, although his options are, you know, pretty narrowing pretty much, so it's very difficult to see how he's going to say no to that. But yeah, the expectation is that the Venezuelan government is going to be speaking to him on Monday, as I say, and discussing with him how he's going to get out of the country, because (inaudible), it's going to be very difficult practically for him to get to Venezuela from the transit terminal of Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport.

It's not clear whether the Venezuelans are going to give him a travel document. First of all, without a travel document, he's not going to be able to get on a plane. And it's not clear, either, that European governments won't act, as they did with the plane of Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, and ask a plane carrying Edward Snowden to land or refuse it to fly across their air space. And so, the practical difficulties for Edward Snowden to get to Venezuela from Moscow are going to be very, very difficult, indeed.

BROWN: In light of that, you know, you wonder how realistic these offers are. Is it a way for these three countries just to make a statement, make a point to the U.S., given their contentious relationships with America or are they really serious about offering Snowden asylum?

CHANCE: Well, I think that they're seriously angry, for instance, about the forcing of Evo Morales's plane to land in Vienna. They're angry with the fact that it was searched. They see that as a sort of national insult, an insult to all the continent of South America, but look, here's my take on this. I think that, you know, and I've spoken to a lot of Venezuelans since I've got here. The general feeling is the last thing, you know, the Venezuelan president wants is for Snowden to actually come here. He wants to be able to talk the talk of fighting what he calls U.S. imperialism, but it's going to be very difficult for him to do that. The country is in a dire economic mess, inflation is running at 35 percent, it's got massive product shortages, everything from chicken to toilet paper. What they want is a better relationship with the United States. In fact, over the course of the past month, the government has been reaching out to the United States to forge a better relationship. This is obviously going to derail that process if Edward Snowden comes here.

BROWN: Also hurt their economy, hurt trade. I mean there would be a big ripple effect from that. Matthew Chance, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, speaking of relationships with the U.S., strong U.S. ally Egypt is bracing now for another big day of protests.

BROWN: Yeah, a lot of people there not happy with how the military ousted the country's first democratically elected president. I'm going to bring in now CNN's Reza Sayah in Cairo. And Reza, rival protest effort today, is that right?

RESA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, Pamela. One of the things, one of the outcomes of the 2011 revolution is that Egyptians have learned to protest and demonstrate. They're very good at it. We're expecting more demonstrations and protests today on both camps. You have one side that's very happy, that's celebrating. These are the anti-Morsy demonstrators who are thrilled that he and his government are gone and Egypt is on its way to transitional leadership and then a new leadership. Then you have the other camp that's outraged. They feel they've been robbed of the democratic process. These are supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsy, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and elements within that particular group who say we just support the democratic process and we believe that democratic process was violated last week when the former president was ousted.

They are planning demonstrations in several areas in Cairo, including in front of the headquarters of the presidential guard, where there are reports that Mr. Morsy is being held in custody. Not to be outdone, the supporters of this new transitional government, the people who are happy, they're planning their own demonstrations behind us in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in this conflict, and these rival demonstrations go on and on. At this point, no end in sight.

BROWN: Reza Sayah in Cairo, stay safe. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, dramatic images of that jumbo jet in ruins. The people who witnessed the San Francisco plane crash first hand take to social media to share what they saw.


BLACKWELL: You know, some of the most remarkable images that we're getting in the aftermath of the crash come from social media. A photograph posted to Twitter by David Eun. Look at this. It shows what appears to be passengers walking off the plane, they've got their carry-ons, their bags. The smoke, as you see, already rising from that plane. And he writes "I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I'm OK." And then he ends it with one word, "surreal."

BROWN: I was looking at his Twitter feed, he was giving a play- by-play right after the crash. Interesting perspective from those on the plane and those watching the crash happened within moments, fire crews were on that scene dousing the fuselage with water and foam. Anthony Kosterani, who witnessed the landing from a nearby hotel, said he saw the plane touch the ground and then he noticed a larger plume of white smoke. He told CNN that he saw a "large, brief fireball that came from underneath that aircraft."

BLACKWELL: We've got a picture from CNN I-reporter Timothy Clark. He was at a hotel nearby. He heard a loud crash and then he told CNN, this is very unnerving. Why? Because I have a long flight home on Monday.

BROWN: A lot of people feeling that way. I've got to hop on a flight today.


BROWN: I'm not too excited about it. Do you know, when you see the images of Flight 214 on the ground in San Francisco, it just seems incredible. We've been talking about this this whole morning, how incredible it is that so many of the passengers and crew were actually able to survive this tragedy. Ahead, we'll talk with a former NTSB top official about why the construction of the plane itself may have actually helped protect passengers.


BROWN: I'm going to turn now to the weather. As we can verify here in Atlanta ...


BROWN: It's been very wet in the southeast.

BLACKWELL: Day after day after day. Karen Maginnis is in the weather center. What else is going on across the country?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, the flooding has been the big issue with the steady moisture moving in along the Gulf coast region. Reports coming out of Walton County, Florida, saying, they've got about a million dollars worth of flood damage, but still that ridge of high pressure along the eastern seaboard keeping things very hot there, but it looks like that heat wave is going to be breaking as we begin the workweek, so that will be some good news for places like Philadelphia, also into Boston. But no mistaking, today's still going to be a sizzler. Look at the counties across the southeast, still under flood watches and flood warnings. We had one area right around Crossville, Tennessee. They saw about three inches of rainfall, also in Cincinnati yesterday, streets were closed. They had a real rough time rerouting some buses around the city there. An additional two to four inches of rainfall expected across northeastern sections of Georgia and into the Ohio River Valley. The panhandle, some of the reports coming out of there staggering, between 15 and 22 inches of rain. Additional rainfall expected today. But in New York City, 92. Tomorrow, temperatures expected in the 80s. Pamela, Victor, back to you.

BROWN: Scorcher. All right, thank you so much, Karen Maginnis. We appreciate it. And thank you for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We have got much more ahead in the next hour of "New Day Sunday." That starts right now.

Ten hours of calm end in just a few minutes of horror. We're live from San Francisco on the crash of Flight 214.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boom! The back end just hit and flies up in the air and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling.


BROWN: While the crash was fatal, it seems a miracle that more didn't die. You'll hear one survivor's terrifying story.