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NEW DAY SUNDAY
More Coverage of the San Francisco Airliner Crash
Aired July 7, 2013 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN: Ten hours of calm ending in a few minutes of horror. We're live from San Francisco on Flight 214.
SURVIVOR: The back end was hit and flies up in the air, and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN: While the crash was fatal, it seems a miracle that more didn't die. You'll hear one survivor's terrifying story.
BLACKWELL: And as more answers emerge, there's still one question, how? Really, Why did this happen, and what can we do to prevent it from happening again?
BROWN: Good morning everyone, I'm Pamela Brown.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, it's 5:00 here on the East Coast, 2 a.m. in San Francisco. Thanks for starting your new day with us. We start our coverage this morning at San Francisco airport, where at least two people have died after Asiana Flight 214 coming from Seoul, South Korea crash landed. You're looking at what's left of the plane.
BROWN: At least 180 were injured in the crash. Some has some bumps and bruises, but others are suffering from life-threatening injuries, including spinal cord injuries. Five patients, including a child are still in critical condition this morning.
BLACKWELL: Miguel Marquez joins us live from the San Francisco Airport. Miguel what do we know this morning?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do know that the flight crew really went beyond the call of duty here, they were asking the emergency workers for knives, so they could actually cut passengers loose out of that plane. We know that some of the survivors were in the water. It is absolutely amazing that as horrific as this was, more people weren't killed.
BLACKWELL: 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.
ELLIOT STONE, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT 214: I feel we are 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 was all like (MAKES A SOUND) like you sped up all kinds, like the Pilot knew he was short.
BLACKWELL: 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 on 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, and flies up in the air, and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling, and then it just kind of drifts for a little bit for a good 300 yards then tips over, fire starts, everybody's, you know, starts pushing the doors out.
BLACKWELL: From the violent landing, passengers start to emerge. From this video shot by a witness in the terminal. You can see the planes emergency chutes deployed and people using them to get off the plane. And this video, a passenger David Eun, a Samsung executive, it shows people, some of them even holding onto their bags as they stager 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 survive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just hand-picked immediately, and then it just kept sliding and sliding and sliding and it finally stopped. And you could see how the fuselage kept buckling and buckling, many times. I'm surprised it didn't come apart and kept together. And it was unreal.
BLACKWELL: Helicopter pictures show the trail of destruction, the impact on the stone embankment at the runways beginning. One set of landing gear, wheels, the plane's stabilizers, the very tip of the tail, debris from the plane littering the runway.
Official 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 (unintelligible) clear to land.
ASIANA PILOT: (unintelligible).
BLACKWELL: 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?
BLACKWELL: Air Traffic Controllers continue to talking to the Pilot of the now crashed Asiana 214, assuring the Pilot that emergency personnel are responding.
ASIANA PILOT: (unintelligible).
TOWER: Asiana 214, heavy emergency vehicles are responding we have everyone on their way.
BLACKWELL: Passenger, Elliot Stone some of the injured were thrown from the plane.
STONE: 40 minutes later this lady just appears from like 500 yards away just like crippled just walking from the plane, and so we started running over and there was like another five bodies out there like 500 yards away that nobody saw. And so we're running over there calling the ambulance and stuff. The ambulance took like twenty thirty minutes to get there. It was pretty ridiculous.
BLACKWELL: 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 runways starting right at the water's edge.
MARQUEZ: Now we do know that investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, they're on the ground here in San Francisco. A separate investigative team is coming in from Seoul, South Korea. All of them will want to talk to United pilots that were sitting just at the end of the runway waiting for that Asiana plane to go by so that they could get on that runway to take off. They literally had a front row seat to all of this. Back to you guys.
BLACKWELL: All right, Miguel Marquez, live at the San Francisco airport for this morning, thank you.
BROWN: And Flight 214 was one of Boeings' triple seven model jets. The aircraft manufacture has issued this statement 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."
BLACKWELL: As Miguel told us a moment ago the "GO TEAM" for the NTSB is now at the scene of the crash. Their official Twitter account sent out this photograph this morning. As you can see here the investigators are outside examining this plane, but I want to show you this other photograph, this one is striking, this is looking inside this plane. Into the main cabin. You see, just right to the left, of the side of the plane, right near the ray, there's a little box, that's a screen on the back of one of the seats that's folded over. You can see those little yellow squares there right under where it says Twitter.com/NTSB, those are the oxygen masks that you hear about in those instructions. Imagine being inside of that fuselage, as many of us have never seen, those oxygen masks drop, it goes dark, the overhead luggage starts to drop down, and again we have said unfortunately two people have died, but when you look at that -
BLACKWELL: ? You can really understand how people are calling this a miracle that it's just two people that have died.
BROWN: And more weren't injured -
BROWN: -- and more didn't die. Speaking of the injured, some of them have been treated and released from local hospitals following the crash. Being united, once again, with their loved ones.
BLACKWELL: Now one of those reunions happened between Bird Rah and her father who was on the plane. Bird Rah is with us on the phone this morning. First, how is your father doing?
BIRD RAH, DAUGHTER OF PASSENGER: Good morning. He just said he's really exhausted, that he's doing just fine. He feels very lucky to have walked out of it in one piece.
BROWN: You know for any of us, you know that feeling when a loved one gets on a plane you just hope and pray they're going to be safe. I just cannot imagine what it was like for you, Bird, when you first found out your father was on that plane. What was it like?
RAH: Oh yeah, I mean of any daughter with a traveling father, you always want your dad to come home, you know, safe or at least whenever you see him traveling he'll be safe. When I had saw that there was a crash, at first I didn't realize it was his flight and then I just stood there kind of putting the pieces together. And when I realized all of a sudden and my heart sank. I went very numb, I couldn't hear anything, or see anything. I went very numb.
BLACKWELL: Now if it's possible, I don't know if you have your television on right now, but if you could turn your television off. And I want to put on a photograph. Just for audio purposes if you could turn your television off, Bird. But, there's a photograph your father sent us, were showing a few of them now, and there's one with people walking away from the plane, the sides deployed. Tell us about what he told you about this moment.
RAH: It was very traumatic, obviously, he did tell me a couple details, including that there was a flight attendant who was stuck. You know the inflatable slide that comes out of the emergency doors? It had actually inflated indoors, inside the plane. And she was in her seat with a 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 in 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 was no sharp objects allowed on a 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 everyone out.
BROWN: Unbelievable. You think about passengers just jumping into action there -
BROWN: ? to get everyone off. Bird what has your communication been like with the airline, with Asiana?
RAH: Personally, I have not heard anything. You know, I found out about the wreckage myself, a news team was actually able to get me past the security and then from there a police department escorted me in there to reunite with my father. For now, I haven't had any contact. I'm sure, you know, they're just sorting everything out. But, my father did mention how professional and calm they were during the entire ordeal.
BLACKWELL: Bird I want you to take us back to that moment when this plane is on the ground, it's burning and your father is telling you the story of what he's seeing, 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. 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 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 is a situation like that.
BROWN: Amazing to think that they were able to jump into action like that and stay calm throughout this chaos. Bird, can you set the scene a little bit more about what it was like among the passengers? We're seeing this video of them walking off the plane with their luggage ?
BROWN: ? What did your father say about how, what else did he say about how the passengers were in this situation?
RAH: He said when the plane stopped moving around after the impact, he said everyone was fairly calm, very quiet. I think it was just kind of out of shock, you know, before every one started to exit the plane. You know, he left his passport on board, some people left with their carry-on bag, my father was able to leave with his lap-top, you know, and his carry-on. In the lounge, where all the passengers were, it was just chaotic. I mean when I went to go see my father, I saw very young, young girls who, you know, didn't seem like they spoke English, but they seemed very terrified, but they were very calm. Nobody was panicking, everybody was very cooperative.
BROWN: We have actually learned that several of the students that were on that flight were teenagers from a camp in Shang-hi. BLACKWELL: Yeah, nationalities don't matter in a tragedy like this one. Bird Rah, thank you so much for sharing the details from your father. We have more details about this tragedy in San Francisco. We know that two people have been killed and several have been injured. We are going to go to Sara Sidner who's outside a hospital in San Francisco right after the break, so stay with us, more of our special coverage continues on New Day Sunday.
BROWN: Of the 307 passengers and crew aboard Asiana Flight 214, 182 were taken to nine Bay Area hospitals. San Francisco General Hospital is the city's only Level 1 Trauma Center.
BLACKWELL: Now right after the crash, the staff pitched tents outside of the E.R. to handle the crush of patients there. CNN's Sara Sidner joins us now from San Francisco General. Sara, how many patients are still there this morning, and what do you know about their conditions?
SARA SIDNER, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me give you some idea just of the sure numbers. You talked about 182 patients, and those patients were spread out across 11 Bay Area hospitals, one of them, of course, being San Francisco General, which is the only Level 1 Trauma Center here that services about a million people from all of San Francisco, to part of San Mateo County.
What I can tell you is that the hospital has treated 52 people, 26 children, 27 adults. And we know now that six people have been allowed to leave the hospital but there are six people in critical condition, at last count. There are all sorts of injuries, but of course when you have patients that are in critical condition, there's always going to be a lot of concern as to how they fair through the night. We are hoping to get an update in a few hours. But that's what we know from this hospital. We know that Stanford, which is about 45 minutes' drive south of here, Stanford hospital had at least 45 patients and doctors there had said, about three or four hours ago, that there were 45 patients taken there, some of them with life threatening injuries, but they didn't go into details as to how many critical, for example.
We know that there a lot of different kinds of injuries, mostly bumps, bruises, broken bones, and spinal injuries. And those are obviously going to be extremely difficult for the doctors to deal with and for the patients themselves to deal with. And you know with spinal injuries it could be everything from bruised bones to paralyzation. We're just trying to get information from the hospital as to exactly what some of those injuries are, but as you know for medical records many things are private, but so far six people are released from this hospital, they are still treating patients here, though.
BROWN: Sara you mentioned there's a range of injuries. Do you know if there's one type of injury that medical personnel are focused on more than other types?
SIDNER: No, obviously the critical patients the doctors are going to be keeping a very close eye on, but certainly these bruises and bumps, we did see ourselves. People coming in, for example, with neck braces, who were stabilized and brought into the hospital that way. We know that there are spinal injuries, we know that there are a lot of broken bones, and a lot of people with bumps and bruises. Obviously, if those injuries are very, very serious, they're going to be staying the night and admitted to the hospital. And those that have just bumps and bruises have been released.
BLACKWELL: All right, Sara Sidner outside of San Francisco General Hospital for us this morning. Thank you. The Asian flight was coming in from Seoul, South Korea.
BROWN: And we're going to take you there live for reaction to the crash next. Stay with us.
BLACKWELL: 24 minutes after the hour now, welcome back to New Day Sunday and our special coverage of the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Now this flight took off from Seoul on its way to San Francisco. Diana Magnay joins us now from South Korea. Diana, what are you hearing from the airline officials there?
DIANA MAGNAY, CORRESPONDANT: Hi Victor. Well Asiana, the CEO of Asiana, the airline involved, gave a press conference a couple of hours ago, gave us some sad details about the two young Chinese girls who lost their lives. Just 16 and 17 years old. A part of the group of high school students on board that plane it originated from Shang- hi and went via Seoul, so there was a large number of Chinese Nationals on board, 141 Chinese Nationals, 77 South Koreans, and 61 U.S. Citizens and then one Japanese person.
We know that also, the CEO said that he didn't think that engine failure was the problem this was a new, a pretty new plane delivered in 2006. And he talked about the amount of experience that the pilots have. We heard earlier that one of them who was flying at the time of the crash, was described by Asiana as a veteran pilot. He had been flying for the company since 1996. He had almost 10,000 hours of flight experience, and the other three, because they rotate on this long trans-Atlantic 10 hour flight, had around 10,000 hours' worth of experience collectively. All in all the CEO gave an abject apology to all those who were affected. Let's take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, TRANSLATOR: I am very sorry to worry families of passengers as well as our people. I bow my head in apology.
MAGNAY: Right now Victor, there are a team of investigators from the Korean Safety Board who are flying to San Francisco, they should be arriving at 11 a.m. San Francisco time and they will, of course, help the NTSD with their investigation. We heard from officials here earlier that the NTSD is already talking to the pilots involved and then when they arrive they will also follow-up obviously with him. Victor.
BLACKWELL: The important question now is how did this happen? And the follow-up, how do you stop it from happening again? Diana Magnay in South Korea for us this morning, thank you.
BROWN: We've got much more still ahead on this story. Coming up we'll bring you up-to-speed on the very latest and we're going to hear from another eye-witness to get her account of what happened on the runway in San Francisco.
BROWN: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back everyone. Thank you for being here 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 in San Francisco International Airport." At least two people have been killed, both of them, women from China. At least 180 others were taken to hospitals, and three to five people, including a child, are in critical condition.
Now, witnesses reported seeing the tail of the plane, and you could see it in this animation, clip the edge of the runway then the planes spun, the belly slid across the tarmac and then burst into flames.
BROWN: And yesterday's crash was Asiana Airline's third fatal accident in 20 years. Back in 2011, a cargo plane slammed into the East China Sea killing the two people on board. And in 1993, one of the airline's Boeing 737s went down in bad weather near an airport in South Korea. 68 of the 116 people on board died. Asiana CEO said today that he doesn't believe "engine failure" caused yesterday's crash. And some of the first reports that anything had gone wrong came from passengers themselves through social media.
BLACKWELL: Yes, 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 the ambulances arrive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EUN: We just crash-landed from my flight from Seoul to SFO. The plane hit the runway really hard on the landing. And we skid into the side. I thought we're going to flip over.
Everyone seems to be OK, a little shaken up. I don't have shoes on, hit my head pretty hard but I think I'm OK. As much as I fly, I don't think about this kind of stuff happening. Anyway, everyone seems to be OK but they're shaken up. Wow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Amazing that now with the technology we take with us everywhere --
BROWN: I know.
BLACKWELL: -- that you can see this immediately after a (inaudible) --
BROWN: As it's unfolding. In fact, I was looking at Dave Eun's Twitter feed last night. BLACKWELL: Yes.
BROWN: He was tweeting right after it happened. He was tweeting everything to have a play by play. And it was great to get that insight from someone who was on the plane so quickly after it happened.
BLACKWELL: And there's more still to come, more coming out on this. You know, Ben Levy, he knew something was wrong with the way Asiana Flight 214 was coming in for landing. He recalled how just the ordinary flight turned quickly to chaos and then the call as passengers trying to help one another escape this burning plane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLAP)
LEVY: (inaudible) like we're about to land, the nose of the plane, as you know, it goes up a little bit. And then (inaudible) start hitting hard. And then we felt like we were going up again. So that's why I said, (inaudible) we're going to -- (inaudible) the guys able to pull one of those -- almost mislanding and go back up and it did not happen, we just crashed back.
So, as I said, if it flipped, none of us would be here to talk about it. It's like flagshow (ph), right? You're tied up to your chair and then again we are skipping on the runaway and I felt that we were going back up, I thought maybe we would go back and before and start flying again, you know, trying to improvise another landing, and we went back down again. So it was, as I said, it felt like slow motion. I was still tied to my chair until I unbuckled, but our chair and the whole row was completely crushed, and the chairs behind.
It was chaos (inaudible), you know. First of all, there was a lot of Koreans that might not, you know, speak English that well. But, yes, it was disbelief, screaming, and 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 really fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: There are a lot of heroes for sure --
BLACKWELL: And we're going to hear more of those stories this morning.
BROWN: Yes, we sure will. And, you know, it's just amazing how the passengers pitched in. They also played a big role along with the flight attendants in making sure everyone got out OK. In fact, we keep talking about how incredible it is. There weren't more injuries and more fatalities.
BLACKWELL: We heard that from Bird Rah, her father was on that plane. And he told her about the heroes going back into the plane pulling people out, helping people on the field near this tarmac. And, again, we're going to hear more of those stories throughout the morning. We know now that the NTSB, the go team there, they've been on the ground at San Francisco Airport for a few hours now.
BROWN: Yes, they'll be joined by South Korean investigators and officials from Asiana Airlines. Terrorism does not appear to be the cause of yesterday's crash, but besides that, the NTSB Chief says, "Everything is on the table."
BLACKWELL: And earlier, we spoke with an aviation expert who said, "The flight data recorders, those will be key."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILMON: For whatever reason, he did not have -- the pilot did not have enough power available to correct the rate of descent that brought him into contact with the ground before he wanted to be there.
Now, I've been thinking about this throughout the -- a few hours and there are a number of other considerations that may or may not have been made really clear. One of them has to do with the fact that at least on one other occasion with the triple 777 in London, they were on approach to land, they ended up landing short also. It is my understanding that it was all because of a fuel situation for one reason or another, the throttles were moving and then the engines were not increasing in their thrust. Therefore, they landed short of the runway and short of the power they needed to continue to fly to a safe landing.
Mechanical things can be present in these airplanes that will make it impossible for the crew to do the things that they know how to do. We're going to learn a lot over the next few hours and days as those boxes are examined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: And the questions this morning, how did this happen? How do you stop it from happening again?
BROWN: And it might be a while till we find out the answers to those questions as NTSB investigators are trying to figure to this out.
BLACKWELL: Yeah. One of the passengers who was on this flight, the crash in San Francisco, said the scene was just chaotic. Now, he is OK and so are his friends, so are his relatives, but we want you to listen as he describes the moment that plane came down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're like 10 seconds away from being home and the (inaudible) were a little bit high and -- like we could see the tarmac down below us and so we're coming down kind of sharp. And then right when it stuck to the coast like for the landing all of a sudden the engine was off. Like you sped up all the time like the pilot knew it was short, and then there's "boom," the back end is hit and flies up in the air and everybody -- head goes up to the ceiling and then it's just kind of -- just for a little bit far about 300 yards then tips over, fire starts, everybody is, you know, pushing the doors out. I would say probably like 50 to 75 people that were kind of like on stretchers and have a neck braces and stuff. There's five that we saw just terrible just like, you know, bad news. And those are the flight attendants that got dropped out the back. The back got the worst of it. And that's what opened up I think like where the flight attendants sit and they, you know, they got (inaudible) right on impact there. And then we kind of fish-tailed for another like 300 yards, just sliding then it finally rolled over, fire started and that's when everyone -- all the passengers jumped out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: We heard him say the back got the worst of it. And we've learned this morning from the CEO of Asiana Airlines that the two, the victims who died, the 16 and 17 year old girls were in the back of the plane.
BLACKWELL: Yeah. And, you know, as we learn more from NTSB and the South Korean officials who were traveling here, you and I spent our careers mostly as reporters, and we've known from covering these unfortunately over the years that the riskiest times of a flight are take offs and landing.
BROWN: And landing. That's right.
BLACKWELL: Because between those times, in the air it's usually autopilot.
BLACKWELL: So we see that on this landing that something went wrong as it clipped, as it came and hit that seawall. Officials have said there should be no reason that they should have been that close to the seawall. Again, officials are on the ground and we're going to get more answers from them. But there are many big stories --
BROWN: There are.
BLACKWELL: -- that we're covering this morning. One of them, and with Snowden, the confessed NSA leaker. He may have a new place to call home. Three Latin American nations may be throwing open their doors to him and defying Washington.
BROWN: We're going to take you live, do not go, up next. Stay with us.
BROWN: Welcome back everyone. We'll have much more in the deadly plane crash in San Francisco, but first in other news, NSA-leaker, Snowden remains a man without a country.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, but now several Latin-American nations are offering asylum. CNN's Frederick Pleitgen is in Moscow. Fred, three countries now are saying they might let Snowden in. PLEITGEN: Yup, three countries. I think yesterday when we talked it was two countries. Today, we have Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia was late last night when the Bolivian President said that as a protest against his plane having to land which of course he blames America for which happened last week. He is now also willing to take Edward Snowden in. And then of course we have that offer on the table from Venezuela who said yesterday that they would also be willing to take Snowden in. But that there was something that they said earlier today when the Venezuelan government came out and said so far they have not heard whether or not there's been a reply from Edward Snowden, so they haven't heard from him yet.
One of the things I'm keeping an eye on right now, Victor, is there's a flight leaving from Moscow to Cuba. We believe that if Edward Snowden is going to take a commercial flight out of here, it's going to be the Aeroflot flight going to from Moscow to Cuba. That flight is boarding at the moment and our man on the ground who's sort of keeping an eye on situations has so far he has not seen Edward Snowden board that flight. So, we'll wait and see what happens the next couple of minutes, but so far there is no sign on him at least from that flight. But who knows, maybe he'll be try and take some other plane, Victor.
BROWN: And. Fred, I can imagine there's some serious economic consequences for taking in one of America's most wanted fugitives here. What are the pros and cons for these countries in taking in Edward Snowden?
PLEITGEN: Well, the pros would basically just be defying America. I mean a lot of the governments that you're talking about are the three governments in particular that we're talking about are governments that have -- that are very antagonistic to the United States, especially if you look at Venezuela. They've called the U.S. an "imperialist nation" for a very long time. They have a leftist government, so that certainly would give them a lot public support in those countries at least they believed.
The consequences of that could actually be bad economic relations with the United States, and of course the United States is by far the most important trade partner for most of these countries. And the state department has said that it's in contact with all the countries that so far have said that they'd be willing to take Edward Snowden in and they've told them that this would have serious consequences and serious long-term consequences.
This wouldn't be something that would be blown over that would go away in a very short amount of time. So, certainly, that's something that these nations have to factor in on the one hand of course these are countries that in the past have tried to defy the U.S. They've used very strong rhetoric towards the U.S. but on the other hand, a lot of them have very strong economic ties and would certainly be very detrimental to them if they took Edward Snowden in. And then of course, there is still the whole logistic problem of getting him over there in the first place
BLACKWELL: Yeah and we've got this little nugget from you this morning that there is this flight to Cuba that is boarding right now in Moscow and it's important that it's going to Cuba because there is no direct flight to Caracas from Moscow, correct?
PLEITGEN: Yes. Yeah there's no direct flight from Caracas to Moscow. We believe he would have to go via Cuba. I checked out some other flight connections that might be possible, but there are some for instance on KLM Dutch Airlines, but that would go via Miami. Obviously, that's not going to be a choice. So, it would does seem as though the Cuba flight would be the one. One of the things that people are talking about is as I said last week. We had the Europeans grounding the plain of the Bolivian President Evo Morales.
The question is if Snowden gets on this Aeroflot flight or the Aeroflot flight tomorrow from Cuba to -- from Russia to Cuba, would European nation ground that flight as well? I mean it's one thing to ground an aircraft to small aircraft but it's another thing to ground a Russian commercial jetliner. We would see--
PLEITGEN: -- if that would happen. Will we see if Edward Snowden even gets on that plane, and if he does get on that plane, will that plane actually make it all the way to Cuba or will it have trouble when it reaches the airspace of allies of the United States? That certainly is going to be something very, very interesting to keep an eye on.
BLACKWELL: All right, Fred Pleitgen in Moscow. Thanks.
BROWN: We want to stay with this story. Right now, CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is live in Caracas with the latest Venezuela's offer of asylum.
BLACKWELL: So, Matthew. The government is offering America's most wanted fugitive a home, but Snowden has not responded. Is there a surprise there in Venezuela?
CHANCE: Well, according to the Venezuelan foreign minister who is speaking yesterday evening, they haven't even spoken to Edward Snowden yet about their offer of asylum. They said they're going to do that on Monday. And so until then, I think it's very unlikely they're going to get a response. I mean it's very difficult for Edward Snowden obviously to reach out to the Venezuelans being cooped up as we believe in the transit terminal of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. But it certainly at least publicly, the Venezuelans are making this offer of asylum to Edward Snowden. They've said this to the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro saying he's giving a humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden, so he can -- this is the quote, "Come to the farther land of Hugo Chavez to live away from imperial North American persecution." So, he's adopting very their rhetorical land which much in the vain of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez perhaps to, you know, bolster his own political legitimacy back here in Venezuela when he won the election here in April and there's been lots of doubts even within Venezuela that he is the sort of rightful successor to Hugo Chavez. This is clearly an attempt to try and bolster his rank. BROWN: We were just talking about there are no direct flights from Moscow to Venezuela. Do you know how Snowden is living in a Russian airport right now? Would he even get there?
CHANCE: No, I mean that's the question. I mean all these countries you mentioned Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua. They've all said in principle they're going to give asylum to Edward Snowden, but there is that big elephants in the room. I mean, how in earth does he get to any of those countries? I mean I think as Fred Pleitgen was just saying, European countries have demonstrated that they will act if they believe Edward Snowden is on the flight crossing their territory via the Bolivian President Evo Morales. He and his presidential plane essentially forced to land and then it was then searched because there were suspicions that Edward Snowden is on board. There's no suggestion they won't do the same with a commercial airliner. So, it's going to be very difficult from that practical point of view to Edward Snowden to reach any of these countries that have issues of travel documents of course. It's not clear whether any of these countries, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua are prepared to give Edward Snowden an actual travel document. And without a travel document, he's not going to be able to leave Moscow Airport.
BROWN: And it probably makes you wonder in line of that if how serious these countries are about this or this is their way of making a statement to the U.S.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, and some of them just want to make a statement to the U.S.
BLACKWELL: Matthew Chance for us in Caracas. Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right. Let's go to Egypt now where there seems to be some confusion over who will be named the country's next prime minister.
BROWN: And in the street there's anger over the military's removal of Egypt's first democratically elected president. CNN's Reza Sayah is in Cairo this morning. And Reza, a prominent opposition leader could be named prime minister, is that right?
SAYAH: He could be, we don't know. We thought Mohamed ElBaradei was appointed last night. All sorts of reports says that was the case but it turned out to be false. Mohamed Elbaradei, the Nobel laureates, the Egyptian diplomat, favored by many Egyptian liberals and moderates, he's a possible candidate for an interim of Prime Ministership. However, the conservatives here, the Islamist, the supporters of the Muslim brotherhood, they don't particularly like ElBaradei. They don't believe that this is a man who represents their views. Apparently, there was lots resistance from the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour (ph) party. And for one reason or another, the appointment didn't take place. We're waiting to see if it happens today. But these are the first signs that's even setting up a transitional government is going to be tricky because of some of the opposition that's surfacing already.
BLACKWELL: Hey, Reza. Over the last few days, you know, several people have been killed, dozens killed, thousands injured. Yesterday, when we spoke on New Day, Saturday, there was a huge pro Morsi demonstration. What's the situation like there in Cairo today?
SAYAH: It's calm at this hour but I don't remember the last day where we haven't seen demonstrations in Cairo throughout Egypt and we were expecting more today. And, these are going to be rival protests. On one side, you're going to have opponents of Mr. Morsi. They're very happy that he's gone and Egypt is on its way to setting up a transitional government. But on the other side, you have supporters of Mr. Morsi, supporters of the Muslin brotherhood, and many who say they're supporters of the democratic process. They don't like what has happened this week. They believe that this ouster of Mr. Morsi was a violation of the most basic principles of democracy. They say they're going to continue to protest until their president, and they say he's still their legitimate president, Mr. Mohammed Morsi, is reinstated. And, the question is, "How does this conflict end because both sides are digging in?"
BROWN: I'm just wondering if there's sort of discouragement there. What's the sense there as far as if this democratic process in Egypt will actually work?
SAYAH: Well, I mean that's a big unknown. The country seems divided right now. But the question is how divided? How many numbers do these two sides have? If you talk to the supporters of Mr. Morsi, the supporters of the Muslim brotherhood, they say, "We have the big numbers. We have more supporters." And if you talk to the Liberals, the moderates, the secularist who launched this campaign to oust Mr. Morsi, they say, "Look at the crowds that came out one week ago, there were millions across Egypt. We are in the majority." So, there is a divide here in moving forward, and the question is, how do these two sides reconcile? Is it possible that leaders from these two sides can get together and find a way to move forward? But, at this hour, the anger, when it comes to supporters of Mr. Morsi, hasn't subsided. They say this process is illegitimate and they're not going to participate in the new transitional government.
BROWN: All right, Reza Sayah in Cairo. Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: All right, coming up, dramatic images of a jumbo jet in ruins.
BROWN: Those who witnessed the San Francisco plane crash, firsthand, take the social media to share what they saw. We'll bring those images to you right after this break.
BLACKWELL: Coming up on the top of the hour, in some of the most remarkable images that were seeing of this crash that happened in San Francisco, they're coming from social media. A photograph posted to Twitter by David Eun (ph.), it shows what appears to be passengers walking off this plane. You see the slides, they're deployed. Some of them have their bags, their carry-on. Smoke is rising from the plane. And he writes, "I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I'm OK, surreal."
BROWN: And within moments of the crash, fire crews were on the scene. Take a look at this. They were dowsing to fuse the lodge with water and foam. Anthony Castorani, who witnessed the landing from a nearby hotel, had actually saw the plane touched the ground and noticed a larger plume of white smoke. He told CNN that he saw a, quote, "Large, brief fireball that came from underneath that aircraft."
BLACKWELL: This is from CNN iReporter, Timothy Clark. He was at a hotel not too far away from the scene. He heard that loud crash from outside his hotel room. He told CNN, "This is very unnerving. We have a long flight home on Monday." And, you can imagine the people who, at some point yesterday, they started with just two lanes to get planes out.
BROWN: And, you know, that that's --
BLACKWELL: And then, people headed home.
BROWN: Yes, absolutely. You know, we're talking about these eyewitnesses who were in nearby hotels who saw this crash happen. They might be the most useful resource for NTSB investigators because they can really give that firsthand account of what happened when that plane landed.
BLACKWELL: That's true. That's true. "Runways" was the word I was looking for.
BROWN: Runway. Got it.
BLACKWELL: Two runways are open. I was thinking, lanes. That's not right. Two runways open.
BROWN: We know what you meant.
BLACKWELL: But still, more to come on this, of course, as we cover this tragedy at San Francisco Airport, The Crash of Flight 214.
BROWN: Well, 10 hours of calm end in a few minutes of horror.