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Kidnapped Nuns Freed in Syria; No Sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; Scary Moments As Stage Collapses; Pilot, Skydiver Survive Collision

Aired March 10, 2014 - 06:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY at half past hour. Let's give you a look at your headlines.

A pro-Ukrainian rally in Crimea descended into violence when pro- Russian gangs whipped and beat demonstrator. This happened a week before referendum will be held on whether Crimea should become part of Russia.

In the meantime, CNN has exclusive pictures of where the Russians have built a new border separating Crimea from Ukraine. Mine fields, barbed wire and Russian troops now mark that dividing line.

New this morning, Mexican authorities say they have scored a big win in their battle against drug cartels. The leader of the Knight Templar reportedly was killed in the weekend in a shoot-out with navy forces. Nazario Moreno was thought to have been killed four years ago but government officials say they're 100 percent sure they've got him this time but will run several tests to be sure.

Public officials in Boston will release more details today about enhanced security for this year's Boston marathon. Local, state and federal agencies will discuss the new safety measures during a press conference at the Massachusetts energy management agency. Their focus will be on how spectators will be handled. They're also going to discuss the decision to ban military personnel from carrying their gear.

Thirteen nuns and three workers are now free and back in Syria this morning. They were kidnapped at a Greek orthodox monastery in Syria last November. They were being held by rebels with possible connections to al Qaeda. Those 13 women were initially released in Lebanon but arrived back in Syria overnight. Lebanese officials say the nuns were freed in exchange for 150 women that the Syrian government was holding.

Actor Liam Neeson is speaking on his passion for the horse drawn carriage industry right here in New York City. Neeson hosted about a dozen city council members Sunday at a horse stable in Manhattan. And he took the opportunity to blast Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to replace the carriages with electric cars. Neeson's stance angered some animal rights groups which claimed to cruel to force horses on crowded city streets.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It is unusual. He is on the opposite side of the PC side of that because usually it's about saving horses.

PEREIRA: And interesting that that would be the cause that he -- I think that surprised a few people.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It's so much part of New York's culture. Just coming in yesterday.

CUOMO: It's how I get here every morning. Horse drawn carriage.

PEREIRA: And it has waited (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Some little (INAUDIBLE) to pumpkin big drop (ph).

All right. We want to get back to the big story this morning, which is the search for the Malaysia Flight 370, we now know it as. Three days after vanishing from radar screens, search teams from eight different countries still have not been able to locate any wreckage. The FBI is now assisting in the investigation, focusing on these two mystery passengers who somehow got on that plane with stolen passengers.

So, in an effort to look at all the different possibilities, we want to look at the safety record of the Boeing 777. This nearly $300 million technical marvel has been widely considered one of the safest jets in the sky, one of the easiest to fly.

So, let's bring in aviation correspondent Rene Marsh joining us from Washington.

Good morning, Rene.

What do we know?


You know, it is still considered one of the safest jets. In its 19- year history, the first fatal crash happened last summer, and early indications are pilot error contributed to that crash.

Now, because of the Boeing 777's stellar safety record and its technological capabilities, even the most experienced aviators can't understand how this plane could simply disappear.


MARSH (voice-over): The Boeing 777 is one of the most high-tech planes in the sky and a workhorse of international travel.

MARK WEISS, FORMER BOEING 777 PILOT: 777, I have to say, was probably the nicest, most sophisticated but also one of the easier airplanes to fly. MARSH: It's so sophisticated, it beams messages to the ground to identify maintenance problems before it even lands.

STEVE WALLACE, FORMER ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: There are systems to can't with the company and there are systems sometimes that monitor the health of the engines, automated reports.

MARSH: 777-200 extended range models like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are capable of flying from New York to almost anywhere in the world nonstop.

WALLACE: It really has an excellent, excellent safety record.

MARSH: That's why the mystery behind how this flight vanished has stumped the world, even pilots like Mark Weiss, who flew 777.

WEISS: This was way out of the ordinary. This is something that happened instantaneously or relatively quickly, and overcame the crew and overcame the aircraft.

MARSH: Since the first 777 rolled off the assembly line in 1994, the planes have made about 5 million flights, yet its first fatal crash came last July when this Asiana Airlines 777 crashed in San Francisco. Three people died. The cause is still under investigation.

But in this crash, finding the plane itself is still the first priority.


MARSH: Now, this plane is equipped with a transponder that sends off a signal. And many are asking if that is the case, why can't they find the plane? Well, if this plane is in the water, that would drastically reduce the radius of the signal. If the searchers are nowhere close to within that radius, they won't detect it -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. Rene, thank you. Let's bring in aviation attorney and former inspector general of the Department of the Transportation, Mary Schiavo.

Mary, good morning. Nice to have you in studio.


BALDWIN: First, just to underscore the point, because all these stories we keep reading. Again, 34 planes, 40 ships, search crews from eight countries so far, nothing. How bizarre is that?

SCHIAVO: It's very bizarre because if the plane broke apart midair, whether it's be from an explosion or from something mechanical, losing control or losing structural member, then you would expect to see a very wide debris field. If the plane entered the water intact, then usually it breaks upon hitting the water. The water, you know, is actually not very forgiving. It breaks apart.

It is theoretically possible that the plane entered the water intact. There had been rare pictures of plane that they had found underwater intact. That's very rare.

BALDWIN: These are incredibly sophisticated jets, the 777. And we were chatting earlier and you said the thing that jumps out at you is the fact that no messages were sent from the plane, intentional messages, automatic messages.

SCHIAVO: That's right. The 777 and people who remember Air France 447 --


SCHIAVO: -- which was an Airbus, not a Boeing, but the plane itself sends system status messages. Literally the plane with this very advanced electronics sends these messages back to its home base really to check on the health of the plane as it's going along, or if it needs something at the next stop. And it's a safety measure. Apparently so far, there were no such messages or there were no such messages received. That's very unusual.

BALDWIN: What does that tell you? I mean, this is -- would it be that the plane was gone potentially?

SCHIAVO: Yes. It tells me that something very dramatic happened on that plane because this plane doesn't just have redundancy. It has in some places triple redundancy. There are many backup systems on this plane. It's very advanced plane.

So, whatever happened was very catastrophic.

BALDWIN: You know, I keep going back to just hopping on a plane yesterday, and all of the measures we have in the states, right, no liquids, x-raying your body, your bags. And I'm curious, just people getting on the plane in Kuala Lumpur, I can't imagine security is quite as tight as it is here.

SCHIAVO: Well, actually, it can be. The International Civil Aviation Organization has guidelines that are supposed to be applied or at least try to strive for worldwide. But each nation is different. Ours is very strict because, obviously, we went through September 11, 2001.

BALDWIN: Of course.

SCHIAVO: But we had to have that awful experience to finally learn the lessons. But every country is different. And including on passport checks and how secure and safe you are with the passport checks. We do, others don't.

BALDWIN: Just wondering if someone -- one of the questions, possible terrorism if someone had nefarious intent, you know, with ill will with this plane, just getting on the plane, wondering if it would be easier. And your point, too, because everyone is saying, if this was terrorism, somebody would be, you know, waving a flag and saying, yes, we did this. No one is claiming responsibility. You say you're not surprised.

SCHIAVO: No, no. Our firm litigated September 11th. We spent 11 years investigating what happened.

And people forget something called the Bojinka Plot. The Bojinka Plot was a lot to take out 12 jetliners over the Pacific Ocean. And they were aiming for U.S. jetliners, but they did a trial run. And they did a trial run on a Philippine jetliner and they used fake passports.

BALDWIN: Trial run.

SCHIAVO: And they didn't take credit because they didn't want anyone to know that they were testing and who it was.

So, there's no indication that that applies in this case, but there are similarities. And that would be why no one was taking credit.

BALDWIN: OK. Mary Schiavo, thank you as always with your expertise. We appreciate it very much.

And, Chris, back over to you.

CUOMO: The situation is not getting easier to understand, but everybody is going to keep looking. That's for sure.

We'll take a quick break here on NEW DAY.

A high school performance goes horribly wrong when the stage comes crashing down. Take a look at this -- 200 girls were on there. What happened? We'll give you the latest on that investigation. The injuries not that bad, that's why we're showing it to you.

Also, another situation that we'll show you because of how it turned out. One is sky diving, a stunt plane, they collide. Both men involved walk away. We have the pictures you're not going to want to miss, as well as an explanation.


CUOMO: You hear the jingle, the change. You know it's "Money Time". You know that means chief business correspondent Christine Romans is there in the Money Center with everything moving around behind her.

The big question this morning -- the bulls, continue charging or no?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, the bull market official five years old, Chris, near record highs, and it looks like it's going to keep going. The S&P up about 180 percent over these past five years. This morning, you got U.S. futures flat but leaning higher.

We begin the week with the S&P 500 near record high. The Dow is just one big rally away from an all-time high. So how would -- you know, how would you like a 1,000 percent return on your investment?

I want to check out these big winners on the bull run. Priceline up 1,646 percent, Expedia up 1,182 percent, Chipotle and Netflix up more than 1,000 percent. I checked Apple. That one up more than 500 percent. Amazon up 515 percent. You guys, what a crazy five years it was and it looks like it's still going up. All right. The gloves coming off in the wireless price bite (ph). AT&T has cut its prices of its two gig mogul share value plan by 15 bucks to 65 bucks a months. This is just two days after the rival at T-Mobile increased its prices for a similar plan. So, a little bit of a price war going on there, guys. Different direction.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Christine, thank you very much.

Some frightening moments when music turned into mayhem at a California high school. The stage, you have 200 plus girls, you know, singing and dancing and jumping up and down. And then watch, because it collapses, sending them into the pit below. So, Investigators want to know how the heck did this happen? Stephanie Elam has more on this near catastrophe.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A packed stage performing for a full house. It's a scene that plays out at high schools across America, but this one has a sudden scary twist. The girls of Rosary High School were holding their annual red and gold performance at their sister school in Anaheim, California, when in an instant, cheers turned to screams as the front section of the stage collapsed, dropping some of the girls in gold into a pit several feet below.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was already at the end of the show. They were getting ready to judge the contestants and everything just came to a screeching halt.

ELAM: Leading to some tense moments.

LT. TIM SCHMIDT, PUBLIC SAFETY SPOKESMAN, ANAHEIM PD: There were well over 200 students on the stage when it collapsed.

ELAM: Some of the injured were treated on the scene. More than two dozen were loaded on to gurneys and into ambulances headed for local hospitals. The injuries described as minor to moderate, including some broken bones, but none life-threatening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She seems to be OK, other than the ankle is broken. But, you know, I got to go chase her right now. We'll go to the hospital right now.

ELAM: A frantic finale this year for the school's cherish musical theater production. Meanwhile, officials are investigating the cause of the collapse.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Two important things there, obviously, to find out how it happened so they could rebuild that stage. And can you imagine, that many girls, yet, the injuries relatively so minor. Good luck. Good luck there.

Coming up on NEW DAY, I want you to take a look at this. Talk about good luck. One man skydiving comes right into the face of the blade of a stunt plane. How did they walk away? We're going to show you the pictures that tell the story and then try to make sense of it.


CUOMO: Welcome back. You ready for this? I mean, this is an amazing story. The pictures even make it more so. Here's what happened. Over the weekend in Florida, a small plane collided with a sky diver. Here's what's almost impossible to believe. Both the pilot and the parachutist are OK. Here's the story from CNN's Nick Valencia.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A heart stopping collision caught on camera. A skydiver, moments from landing, gets clipped by a small plane. In a series of photos, you can see the plane's wing becomes en entangled in the strings of John Frost's (ph) parachute, tossing the 49-year-old skydiver in the air. The plane traveling roughly 60 miles per hour, lost control, and nose-dived to the surface.

TIM TELFORD, PHOTOGRAPHER: The plane caught the side of the canopy, spun the airplane completely180 degrees, flipped the skydiver up into the air. You heard the airplane, the airplane impacted the parachute, which sounded like you falling face first in your pillow.

VALENCIA: The amateur photographer said he sensed something was about to happen when he saw the plane and skydiver both about to touchdown.

TELFORD: Thought I was going to have a very exciting picture of a very close fly-by. I never -- years thought I'd see what I saw. It was just bad time, right place, wrong time.

VALENCIA: Miraculously, both men walked away from the scene with minor injuries. Friends and family counting their blessings both are going to be OK.

PAUL FULLER, NEIGHBOR OF PILOT: (INAUDIBLE) neither one of them was seriously injured.

VALENCIA: According to the Polk County sheriff's office, the plane's pilot, 87-year-old Sharon Trembley was practicing landing and taking off in a Cessna before the incident. Both the NTSB and the FAA are now investigating this mid-air scare.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


CUOMO: All right. So, here's my new fear. Here's the new fear. It's amazing. It's random. It should never happen. The skydiver, especially, is incredibly lucky so is the pilot because once it was mass (ph) like that, so close to the ground, could have been horrible and that small plane survived. I don't think they were part of some coordinated effort.

BALDWIN: We were wondering --

CUOMO: I think they were just in an area where both of these things were happening, where small planes were landing, practicing --

BALDWIN: And the guy just so happened to get tangled in his Cessna?



PEREIRA: -- the Cessna nose-dive like that -- that amazes me.

CUOMO: I don't think he was like trying to land on it. I don't think it was coordinated.

BALDWIN: Note to self, not skydiving ever.

PEREIRA: Count me out as well.

BALDWIN: Ever. You in, Cuomo?

CUOMO: I have done stupider things.


CUOMO: Usually, for camera.

BALDWIN: -- that in the commercial break.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, questions are building, answers are few and far between. What happened to Malaysia flight 370? Was it an actor of terror? The very latest developments are straight ahead.

CUOMO: And for the first time since the Newtown massacre, we hear from the shooter's father. His comments are pretty surprising about his son, including why he wishes that his son had never been born. NEW DAY returns in a moment.


CUOMO: Breaking overnight, a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake hitting off the North California coast, about 50 miles west of Eureka and Humboldt County. According to the U.S.G.S., that's latest information that we have. The shaking was felt as far south as the bay area and as far north as Oregon. So far, there've been no reports of major damage or injuries. We're going to have more on that in a moment. And the show continues.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search intensifies for missing Malaysia Airline's flight 370.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have not found anything (INAUDIBLE) that the aircraft (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russia says it has -- only Crimean Peninsula will hear --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skydiver obviously crossed the runway right in front of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know that we're jumping every weekend. They know there was parachute --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The second week of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial opened with his defense team on the attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he had a chance."


CUOMO: And the show will continue right now. Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. Chris Cuomo with the one and only, Brooke Baldwin in for Kate Bolduan.

BALDWIN: Good morning. Nice to be here.

CUOMO: Not spelled the same, sound the same.


CUOMO: And Michaela Pereira back as well. Great to have you together here.

PEREIRA: Good morning.

BALDWIN: All right. Let's begin here with what's happening. Oscar Pistorius said to be retching and vomiting in court in details of his girlfriend's autopsy are revealed. Those autopsy details are not being broadcast, by the way, on television or on a web or social media because of a judge's order. Earlier, Pistorius' defense tried to cast out on a security guard's account of phone conversations he'd had with track star in minutes after he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

PEREIRA: Stunning new revelations by the father of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter. Peter Lanza telling "The New Yorker" he wished his son had never been born and that his son would have gunned him down in a heartbeat if he had had the chance. He also revealed that he has met with two of the victim's family. Adam Lanza, as you recall, killed his own mother, 20 first graders, and six school staff members before killing himself in December of 2012.

CUOMO: Familiar face back in the news. Prime suspect in Natalee Holloway's disappearance will be sent to the United States. Overnight, Peru agreed to extradite Joran Van Der Sloot to face charges that he tried to extort money from Holloway's mom. Justice will not come quickly, however. Van Der Sloot won't be shipped here until after 2038. That's when he completes his sentence for killing another woman. BALDWIN: And for the second year in a row, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky won the CPAC dime straw poll. It's an annual poll that was held over this weekend and gauges (ph) who attendees favor the win the Republican nomination in the next presidential election. Paul won with 31 percent of the vote. If you're curious, Senator Ted Cruz finished second in the straw poll with 11 percent of that vote.

PEREIRA: The desperate search continues for Malaysia Airlines flight 370. It vanished without a trace. This morning, search teams from eight different nations are looking for any sign of that Boeing 777.