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Did Terrorists Take Down Flight 370?; Malaysia Airlines Flight Mystery, Stolen Passports Raise Terrorism Fears, Barbed Wire, Landmines Mark New Borders; Dramatic Pistorius Murder Trial Testimony

Aired March 10, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be specifying our efforts to locate the missing aircraft.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Without a trace, from the air and its sea. A search for clues about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. 239 people in the jumbo jet seem to have vanished. This morning, new questions about passenger stolen passports and new theories about whether it was an accident or something worse.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Standing his ground. Russian president, Vladimir Putin, refusing to back down on Ukraine in two phone calls with world leaders. CNN gets an exclusive look at the border between Ukraine and Crimea and finds new evidence that Russians are laying landmines.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Hard-stopping collision. A sky diver and plane become entangled mid-air and crash 75 feet to the ground. Incredibly both men walk away with only minor injuries. We have the stunning images.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, March 10th, 6:00 in the east and by my side for Kate Bolduan is the splendid Brooke Baldwin.

BALDWIN: Well, hello, there. Thanks for having me here.

CUOMO: It's great to have you with us --

BALDWIN: Nice to help. Nice day.

CUOMO: Especially on a day like this. A lot of news and always great, of course, to have Michaela back. Missed you. Missed you. It's good to have you here.

Unfortunately, you both joins today with a very sobering headline and this is the bottom line still, no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Forty ships, 34 planes and search crews from eight different countries are all looking for the Boeing 777 that fell off the radar Saturday morning.

Two hundred and thirty people on board. Now despite reports of debris sightings and oil slicks, aviation officials in Malaysia say they have not seen a single confirmed trace of the jet. The FBI is not entering the investigation. Their focus is on two passengers on the flight who boarded with stolen passports.

The possibility of terrorism now in the mix. Brooke is going to look at that in a moment. First, let's bring in Jim Clancy live from Kuala Lumpur -- John, Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hopes, fears and frustrations certainly more than 60 hours after this plane just vanished off the radar, the mystery, you know, the answer to what happened to this flight still eludes us. But people are not giving up.


CLANCY (voice-over): This morning the search intensifies for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Now three days into this exhaustive search for clues, multi-national rescue teams are scouring the waters of the South China Sea. Overnight, Malaysia's civil aviation chief says no wreckage has been found.

AZHARUDDIN ABDUL RAHMAN, MALAYSIA CIVIL AVIATION CHIEF: We have not found anything that appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft.

CLANCY: But Abdul Rahman did confirm that they have taken samples from a spotted oil slick in the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam in hopes of a positive match. Teams from the United States, Thailand and China, all involved in the search effort with more than 30 aircraft and some 40 ships across at least 50 nautical miles. The missing Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia just before 1 a.m. on Saturday.

Less than an hour after take-off, the tower lost the plane's signal. No distress call sent and the weather clear at the time. The Boeing 777 and its 239 people aboard seemingly vanished. Despite the lack of clues, officials here say they have some leads.

GEN. TAN SRI DATO SRI RODZALI DAUD, ROYAL MALAYSIAN AIR FORCE: We look back at the recording and there is a possible indication that the aircraft may turn back.

CLANCY: Malaysia and Thailand are investigating the possibility that the flight may have changed course and tried to turn back. Adding to the mystery, Interpol says two of the passengers used stolen passports. Now they're examining surveillance videos and additional suspect passports.

This Facebook page has been dedicated to the 239 people who the airline says belong to 14 different nations. Three Americans were on board, including 50-year-old Phillip Wood from North Texas. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: More than half of those aboard that jetliner were of Chinese descent, they were Chinese nationals and they have begun arriving here in Kuala Lumpur. They are searching for their family members really. They are searching for answers. But Brooke, the truth is there are no answers here, at least not yet.

BALDWIN: So many questions, several days out, Jim Clancy, thank you so much. And so, you know, if terrorists had anything to do with the disappearance of this Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, they're not taking credit like they usually do. Right now officials are focusing on these two passengers who got on that Boeing 777 with stolen passports.

So let me take you to Washington, D.C. and bring in CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown on that angle. Pamela, good morning.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Brooke. Right now, Interpol trying to help identify the two passengers who used the stolen passports. So the question remains how did they board that plane and another frightening thought, how often does that happen?

According to Interpol, an astounding number of people worldwide have boarded flights without having their passports checked as lost or stolen.


BROWN (voice-over): It's one of the biggest mysteries in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. How did in a post-9/11 world did two passengers board an international flight with stolen passports? Even more surprising, they were in plane site, among the names listed in Interpol's lost and stolen travel documents database.

One since last year, the other since 2012, both stolen in Thailand and it appears the two passengers who used the passports of an Italian and an Austrian citizen bought their tickets together.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: When you book your ticket, the airline is not able to make an inquiry with Interpol about whether you're wanted or whether the passport has been reported stolen. The country -- the government does.

BROWN: And according to Interpol, last year alone, passengers were able to board planes without having their passports screened against Interpol databases more than 1 billion times. The database at Interpol headquarters in France contains an astounding 40 million records of stolen travel documents.

FUENTES: The member countries, the 190 members that belong to Interpol, are not charged a fee for accessing any of those databases. So if the country has sufficient resources and technical capability to wire into Interpol's virtual private network that's running 24 hours a day, they certainly would be able to access that database and check it. It's up to the will of the country to set it up and do it. BROWN: Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said now we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists, while Interpol is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights.


BROWN: And law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, says the U.S. routinely checks passports against Interpol's database. So how often do searches in Interpol's database get a hit for a lost or stolen passport? More than 60,000 according to officials. That's out of an average of 800 million searches -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Pamela, thank you very much. Let's bring in John Magaw. He is a former administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. He is also a former director of the Secret Service as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Mr. Magaw, thank you very much.


CUOMO: So let's take a look. It's a big ocean. It's just one plane, but how unusual for there to be no signal or sign or communication from such a sophisticated jet?

MAGAW: It's very unusual. It has to be something that is sudden and violent. Also, why isn't the transponder working so that it can be located? Those are big concerns, but it had to be something quick, violent that took it out of the sky.

CUOMO: Now let's take a look at things and get some perspective from you on whether or not you think these are real clues or could be red herrings. We have the missing passports. We have the oil slicks and then we have this dramatic turn they believe at the end on radar back toward Kuala Lumpur. What do you make of those?

MAGAW: Well, in terms of the turn back towards Kuala Lumpur, I think in bombings before in aircraft, if this is a bombing where one side of the aircraft is blown out, sometimes it will, my understanding, cause it to veer right before going down or virtually at the same time. I think this is something obviously we're going to have to look at closer.

But if it was turning around on its own and intentionally, then why no warning, why no mayday and why is there a closer airport than turning around. Those are all things that have to be answered.

CUOMO: The oil slick, we now believe that it may not be from this plane, it could be from something else, that it was so long and it was sitting there with no debris field around it, does it make sense that it now seems just as likely that it's associated that it is associated?

MAGAW: I think it's probably 50/50 although maybe 60/40 that it still is the debris of that plane. The oil slick is going to come up, the parts of the airplane could be pinned down. There are some that will float, but if there are pinned down for some reason and the fact that it's such a long area. That is typical when you have an air explosion.

And talking about the oddity of this is you have almost no aircraft accidents historically, very few, at that level. So was it something that was in the cargo hold that triggered at 35,000 or 36,000 feet?

CUOMO: That was an important point, Mr. Magaw. That it had reached a flight altitude. It was likely on auto pilot, very unusual that you have major malfunctions at that height. Now the passports, the more we learn about it, the less impressive it becomes. That there may have been fraudulent passports. Do you think this is something that is more surprising to the uninitiated than it is to investigators?

MAGAW: It won't be surprising to investigators or those who are in the business. That's been a concern for a long time and Ron Noble from Interpol has expressed that. But you've got fugitives that are using them. You have human trafficking. You have drug trade. You could go on and on as people who are using false identification.

And now you've got four on the aircraft that used false identification. So it's not unusual in that part of the world for virtually all the flights that have any number of passengers, it not unusual that you might find one that's improperly identified.

CUOMO: So probably more interesting than it is instructive. And lastly, if this were terrorism, is it unusual that whoever did it wouldn't have wanted people to know they had taken control of the aircraft and that a group wouldn't have come forward now saying, yes, it was us?

MAGAW: Well, since 9/11, you've had a lot, and since Afghanistan, you have had a lot of it spread out throughout the world and you have now also here in the United States. We're very concerned about the two or three or four people who plan the event because they're much more difficult to identify and so this very well could be. But you're right, you don't want tunnel vision with the improper identification here.

How about those ground crews? Who handled that aircraft from the time it arrived on the ground until it left. You have caterers. You have mechanics. You have baggage handlers. You have ramp managers. Who has access to that ramp?

You know, we've had some problems in this country with ramp back side of the airport not well protected and we're dealing more with that now. But in foreign countries and other countries, they're still having a big problem with that. The cleaners in the aircraft can insert something underneath the cushion that detonates at a certain time or put in the cargo hold.

There are just so many possibilities here, but it really is catastrophic. I don't think there's much question in anybody's mind if they are really straight forward that it wasn't catastrophic. CUOMO: And obviously the search for answers is very important for investigators and understand just the dynamic of the situation, but for those 239 families, the answer couldn't be more urgent than it is and our thoughts are with them obviously. Mr. Magaw, thank you very much for the insight this morning.

MAGAW: My pleasure.

CUOMO: Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll get back to that investigation in just a minute. Chris, thank you.

But I want to talk about the situation in Ukraine right now because even as the world warns Vladimir Putin to stay back, the Russian build up in Crimea shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. A pro-Ukraine rally there turned violent as pro-Russian supporters went on the attack as you can see right here.

Meantime, CNN has exclusive pictures of where the battle lines are being drawn. Hundreds of troops have built this new border complete with mine fields, barbed wire. What they're doing is looking to establish control with a referendum on Crimea's future. All of six days away.

Want to take you straight to Anna Coren this morning with more on that. Anna, good morning.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. That's right. Less than a week before the referendum here in Crimea, that military buildup of Russian forces has definitely intensified. We're getting reports that they're creating a new border between Crimea and Ukraine so we drove up and this is what we found.


COREN (voice-over): Parked along the highway linking Crimea to Ukraine, a convoy of Russian military trucks and armored personnel carriers. We're approaching a check point flying the Russian flag where troops are searching cars, targeting media crews and confiscating equipment. We hide our cameras as soldiers inspect the van. One of them is spotted. It's taken and turned off.

This is now effectively part of Russia and they don't want us filming the evidence. The local soldier in charge, who sworn allegiance to Russia, agrees to an interview. "We're defending our people," he tells me. "This is not about Russia, but about protecting our homeland."

As we drive through the checkpoint, we see a new border that's being erected along this wind swept plain. Once out of view from Russian troops, we stop the car and resume filming.

(on camera): While Russia says it has no military presence on the Crimean Peninsula, well, here your proof. Russian troops has dug in armed personnel carriers have rolled out barbed wire, dug fence posts and there are also signs that indicates that there are land mines in the area.

(voice-over): A local resident says they aren't just signs, this is a mine field. One of my neighbor's dog ran in there and was blown up, he tells me. Why are the Russians laying landmines? Why are they being so aggressive?

Several miles up the road, the Ukrainian checkpoint appears. They too are digging in, setting up camp, well aware this standoff could turn bloody.

"We are warriors following the orders of the people of Ukraine", says this soldier. "If they want us to defend Crimea, we will do this and we will die." A sacrifice they're prepared to make for the sovereignty of Ukraine.


COREN: Now, we know that there's a media crack down on the way. We were lucky, we did not have our equipment confiscated but they don't want us recording the buildup of this new border, if you like. But, you know, certainly, from what we could see, Michaela, they are digging in and the Russians are here to stay.

PEREIRA: We appreciate you bringing us that report. We really appreciate it. Anna Coren with a look inside Ukraine and Crimea.

Let's take a look now at some of your other headlines.

Breaking news overnight, a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Northern California Sunday night. According to the USGS, that quake hit about 50 miles west of Eureka and Humboldt County. The shaking was felt as far south as the Bay Area, and as far north as Oregon. So far, we've heard no reports of major damages or injuries.

New this morning, the father of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter says he wishes his son had never been born. Peter Lanza telling "The New Yorker", quote, "You can't get anymore evil." He also says he knows his son would have gunned him down if he had the chance. As you'll recall, Adam Lanza killed his mother, 20 first graders and six school staff members before killing himself in December of 2012.

Breaking overnight, the prime suspect in Natalee Holloway's disappearance will be extradited to the United States in 24 years. Peru agreed to send Joran van der Sloot to the U.S. only after he finished his sentence for killing another woman. Van der Sloot faces charges here for allegedly trying to extort money from Holloway's mother by offering fake information about that teen's disappearance in 2005.

Rand Paul for president in 2016? Many who attended the annual CPAC gathering of conservatives over the weekend like to see that. The Kentucky senator easily won the event's presidential straw poll. Paul got 31 percent of the vote. He won last year, too. That though this time, his victory was by a much larger margin. Texas Senator Ted Cruz was a distant second with 11 percent. Do you remember that epic spelling bee we told you here about on NEW DAY? Well, a winner has finally been crowned in Missouri. Seventh grader Kush Sharma. Remember Kush here? He won the Jackson County spelling bee rematch after successfully spelling the word definition.

CUOMO: I cannot believe it.

BALDWIN: Definition.

PEREIRA: The words were pre-picked but yes, he spelled definition. It took 29 rounds to finally win over fifth grader Sophia Hoffman. We met her as well. Last month, the two blew that list, going 66 rounds before they eventually called a tie.

Now, the plan is for Sharma to go on to the Scripps national spelling bee in May, the national stage --

BALDWIN: Must-see TV. I've been watching the Scripps spelling bee, by the way.

PEREIRA: He was really a charming fella. His parents were here. His family is here.

He studied all the time. No time for Facebook. No time for videos games. He studies spelling all the time.

BALDWIN: Sounds like a young Chris Cuomo.

CUOMO: No, not really. Even though they did stump me with a fake word.

PEREIRA: It wasn't a fake word.

CUOMO: They said it was some German cookie that didn't exist.


CUOMO: I thought it was petty for the champion to have to use a fake word.

And you know what? She was great, too, though. The girl was great, and she was two years younger than him. So, she's a comer.

All right. So, since we're doing spelling, Indra Petersons, spell the word meteorology.


CUOMO: Meteorology.

PETERSONS: Do you really want me to spell that bad boy? I better have that one right.

All right. Let's talk about the change because finally today it is so much nicer. This is the pattern we had all winter long, guys. And, finally, for like two days, little keys here, we're seeing the jet pattern lifting and going from below normal temperatures to above normal. And not just a little bit.

Look at the difference here. We're talking about highs about 13 degrees above average in New York City, 50s today. Go further south, you're talking about (INAUDIBLE), even further west, out towards Chicago, looking for temperatures 20 degrees above average.

It actually gets better by tomorrow. New York goes to 60s! I've been waiting for this for so long. That's right.

D.C. even talking about some 70s tomorrow. Charlotte almost getting towards 80. But here's for the bad news, right?

I started with the good. That's all that matters. Look at the difference. Once we go to Wednesday, we drop down to near 40s in New York City and 20s, guys, as your highs. It looks like D.C. goes from 70s down to 30s.

So, something is going on, right? Not the system that's moving by today. That's not really going to be affecting us. It's the one that's going to come out of the plains and, of course, make its way across the country.

All this energy right there, we're going to watch it really kind of develop yes, by Tuesday, Upper Midwest, plains gets snow, makes its way through the Ohio valley, Wednesday and Thursday heading toward New York City, chance for a wintry mix and snow.

Who gets the most of the snow? We're still waiting. It's got a ways to travel right now. It looks like it is north of our area. That's good news.


BALDWIN: Sixty degrees, I was having to bring my sweaters after being in Atlanta.


BALDWIN: Pull them out, dust them off.

PETERSONS: I'll hook you up.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Let's take a break here on NEW DAY.

The Oscar Pistorius trial has had some surprises early on. Right now, there's a big debate over whether graphic testimony about girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's autopsies should be broadcast. There's also a real fight about who's telling the truth. We're going to take you live to the courthouse for the latest.

BALDWIN: Also ahead this morning, what a story. This is the kind of thing you don't see every day. And we're grateful we don't.

Take a look at these pictures, because you have a small plane and a skydiver colliding in midair in Florida. How did it end? We'll tell you, coming up.



BALDWIN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

I want to take you now to South Africa, where week two here of the Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius murder trial is underway. The trial has just adjourned after a debate over whether graphic testimony about his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's autopsy should actually be broadcast.

Now, earlier, the defense questioned a security guard's recollection of phone conversations with Pistorius right after he shot Steenkamp.

Robyn Curnow checking every legal maneuver here in Pretoria for us.

Robyn, good morning.


Indeed, it has been adjourned. And throughout this case so far, we've mostly heard from witnesses who is set the scene. Take a listen to this.


CURNOW (voice-over): The second week of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial opened with his defense team on the attack, challenging statements made by a security guard at his estate.

PIETER BABA, ESTATE SECURITY GUARD: (INAUDIBLE) and this is how I learned to know that something was wrong.

CURNOW: Phone calls between Pistorius and Pieter Baba dissected by the defense.

BARRY ROUX, DEFENSE LAWYER: If Mr. Pistorius was crying on the phone, that you would phone him to ask if he was OK.

CURNOW: The guard said Pistorius initially lied to him when he first called the athlete after the shots were fired, saying everything was fine. But the defense say records show it was Pistorius who called security first.

ROUX: In fact, Mr. Pistorius phoned first and you returned that call very shortly.

CURNOW: Last week, the Olympic Blade Runner faced a stream of graphic testimony from the prosecution's witnesses, including his next door neighbor.

DR. JOHAN STIPP, WITNESS: He was trying to open air way and trying to I think stop bleeding from her right thigh.

CURNOW: Dr. Johan Stipp was among the first to see Pistorius after he shot Steenkamp multiple times, through a locked bathroom door.

STIPP: He prayed to God to please let her live, she must not die.

CURNOW: Pistorius' ex-girlfriend also testified.

SAMANTHA TAYLOR, EX-GIRLFRIEND: We were still together but we were having problems.

CURNOW: Fighting for tears, she testified that track star behaved recklessly. The judge also heard from several neighbors, who said they heard screams coming from the athletes home that night as gunshots rang out.

MICHELLE BURGER, WITNESS: Just after 3:00, I woke up from a woman's terrible screams.

CHARLES JOHNSON, WITNESS: It was clear that this person's life was in danger.

CURNOW: The defense attempted to poke holes on the witness' testimony, arguing Steenkamp couldn't have screamed after the final shot, which hit her in the head.

ROUX: With the head shot, she would have dropped down immediately.

CURNOW: Defense lawyers suggesting that it was Pistorius screaming after accidentally shooting his model girlfriend in what they claim was a tragic mistake.


CURNOW: OK. So just to give you an update, in the last half an hour or so, we heard the state pathologist starting to give evidence about the state of Reeva's body, the post-mortem. We understand from (INAUDIBLE), our producer in court, that Oscar Pistorius had his head buried in his hands. He's now being comforted by his sister and brother after this adjournment.

And also importantly, this testimony by the pathologist is not being broadcast live either via radio or by video because this is deemed insensitive to Reeva's memory. It's about protecting her dignity, says the judge.

Back to you.

BALDWIN: Robyn, thank you so much for us in Pretoria.

Coming up next this morning on NEW DAY, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, that Boeing 777 that vanished on Saturday, has been called a technological marvel and pilot considered it, by the way, one of the easiest jets to fly. So, a lot of questions -- could a safety problem really be to blame for the plane's mysterious disappearance?

CUOMO: Just some really scary video this morning -- take a look at this. A stage holding over 200 girls. Watch happens. BALDWIN: Oh!

CUOMO: It collapses in a California high school. Investigators are trying to figure out how it happened. We'll tell you.