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Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Mystery; Crisis In Ukraine; Pathology Expert Testifies in Pistorius Trial; The Automatons of the 18th and 19th Century

Aired March 10, 2014 - 8:00   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Malaysia's state news agency says this oil slick is not from a plane that went missing two days ago. So where is Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

A new blood test may reveal who is at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

And the line between Ukraine and Russian controlled Crimea even before a secession vote is looking like that world's newest border.

The mystery surrounding Malaysia airlines flight 370 is growing as a search for the missing plane is now in its third day. The wait for information is simply agonizing for the relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board that plane. Investigators are still trying to determine the identities of at least two passengers who were traveling on stolen passports.

Now the plane was bound for Beijing for Kuala Lumpur. Air traffic controllers lost contact less than an hour after takeoff.

Now this is the flight's last known position before it disappeared off the radar. Crews have been scouring the South China Sea both day and night. They pay particular attention to the Gulf of Thailand as you see over here. But the area has provided false leads.

Malaysia's state news agency reports tests on an oil slick found about 145 kilometers south of Tho Chu Island revealed it was not from the missing Malaysian jetliner.

Recent focus has shifted to the Andaman Sea after radar data indicated the plane may have turned back to Kuala Lumpur.

Well, let's bring in CNN's resident aviation expert Richard Quest. And he's been following the story since it broke. He joins us now from CNN New York.

Richard, again we're heading into -- this happened on Saturday. We're now in Monday and still there are no answers. How much of a question -- or importance is time in a situation like this?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's very important, because not only will -- let's just take the individual parts that you normally see before -- that would give an indication.

One of the first things that you would see might be the jet fuel or the oil from the aircraft that's risen to the surface. Well, the longer this goes on the more that will dissipate and get broken up by the natural wave action in the water. So that's something that you need to bear in mind.

Then you've got, of course, any debris that's there that might eventually sink. It just becomes -- the debris field which to all intents and purposes would have to be very small to start with. If it was a large debris field on the top of the water is a good chance it would have been spotted by now.

But obviously, the longer this lasts and the longer it goes on the oil dissipates, the debris field expands and becomes more difficult to see. So yes, there is a very strong element that time is crucial in finding this debris.

RAJPAL: The tragedy of this particular story is that while many people -- well, all of us -- has been asking how could an airline, how could a plane of this size simply vanish from sight and there be no trace of it? The tragedy is, it's not unprecedented. There has been a story like this before.

QUEST: Yes, there has. I mean, you've got to -- when you don't -- and you can't obviously see the physical aircraft, you have to work backwards. Now here that means looking at the radar track. Well, they knew which way the plane was going and they knew at what speed it was going and at what height it was, but then you've got this -- that we learned over the weekend that the plane may have turned back.

Now we don't know the circumstances of that. For instance, was -- does the radar telemetry show just a turn? Does it show a sharp turn? How long had it turned? That's why we have to be extremely cautious in interpreting it. Yes, they moved the search from the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea because the scale -- you're talking about an aircraft traveling at 500 miles an hour.

Now even if the thing had disintegrated in air, those pieces would have continued to have moved -- we learned this from TWA 800 where you ended up with two tracks after the plane exploded.

So we know quite a lot about how things react in these circumstances, but what we don't know, of course, is exactly what that plane was at the moment the incident happened and how catastrophic that incident was.

RAJPAL: Now Richard, you're inquisitive. You've got an investigative mind. So when you look in a situation like this, what particular areas do you focus on? What kind of questions do you ask to try and get at least some -- get yourself closer to some answers?

QUEST: If I'm being honest, you don't. You don't ask what happened. And the reason you don't ask what happened is it is absolutely impossible at this stage to know. Until they've got pieces of the debris they -- would show -- for instance, I'm going to through the range. We know this aircraft had a repair on its wing some years ago. Was that relevant or is that a complete red herring?

We know that it stops sending information. Does that mean an explosion? We won't know until they actually get hold of the debris to see if there's any explosive residue and to see what it looks like.

We know that nothing has been heard of it since. The pilots weren't able to get a message out. We don't know why. To put it crudely and bluntly, I cannot give -- I can give you a range of things that could, may, possibly have happened, but nobody will be able to say anything until they've got the debris and they can start to actually analyze it.

RAJPAL: Richard, thank you very much. Richard Quest there live for us from New York. And we are waiting for a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that's being held by the Malaysian authorities. They've been holding this new conferences periodically over the last couple of days just to keep people abreast of what they know, which frankly is very little.

That news conference is scheduled to take place any minute now. Of course we'll take that -- we'll take you there live as we get it.

Now the United States is one of 10 countries assisting in the search effort. Mary Schiavo is former inspector general for the U.S. Transportation Department. She joins us now from our Bureau in New York.

Ms. Schiavo, thank you very much for being with us. In -- again, as we heard from our Richard Quest earlier one of the questions you don't ask is what happened, because that's just simply perhaps is it too simplistic or too much of a broad ranging type of a question. As investigators start to at least search or scour the area. What are they looking for? What are the Americans doing in this -- in helping in this type of investigation?

MARY SCHIAVO, FRM. INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. TRANSPORTATION DEPT.: They are looking for wreckage. They will also -- since the navy is going to assist, they do have submersibles and they do have the equipment to listen for any emergency locators and most importantly to find those black boxes which have what they call pingers on them. They put out a radio signal that's powered by a battery. The battery will last for about a month. So they've got to get there and get those -- get those found.

But they're looking for not an oil slick, but a jet fuel slick, which kind of makes a rainbow sheen on the water, any parts of the aircraft will be particularly valuable. And remember if it broke apart, a lot of things in the aircraft are light and they float -- the seats, the life vests, the life -- the inflatable life boats, gallery carts sometimes float, pieces of the tail and wing would float. So if it broke apart, they should be seeing it. In rare, rare circumstances, you see pictures from like old World War II planes that actually went in the water and stayed intact, that's of course possible, but highly unlikely.

RAJPAL: How does the coordination of the kind of search and rescue -- search and recovery efforts start to even begin in a situation like this?

SCHIAVO: Well, one of the ways that they do and you know how do you cover the ocean? Well, you cover the ocean with a grid. They have a system where literally they map out the ocean and the area to be covered and they fly the grid. Each -- different countries an take different parts of the grid and they fly back and forth or they take the ships back and forth. And square by square -- you know, several square miles per grid. And they literally cover it like they're painting the ocean block by block and it's very effective.

The Coast Guard does it. The Coast Guard pioneered a lot of this. And they put in -- they put into this grid the currents, the weather, where things would have floated and then they could back up and say where would the impact have been given these kinds of conditions.

And so they're really very good at it, but they have to be looking in the right area. I think -- I think the information that the plane turned back probably will be a misnomer, because if a pilot was able to do that you would have had some contact or some indication from the plane or the pilot. So I think that if they're looking in the right place they should be finding wreckage very soon unless -- and this would be an amazing feat for the 777 -- unless it entered the water, which is like hitting cement -- if it entered the water and stayed intact.

RAJPAL: Mary Schiavo, thank you so much. Very difficult indeed. We really appreciate you speaking to us and your analysis and thoughts as well on this very increasingly worrying and sad story. Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general for the U.S. Transportation Department thank you again.

We want to take you, though, now to Kuala Lumpur with that news conference we were telling you about earlier on being held by the Malaysian authorities. Let's take a listen.

RAJPAL: We're just -- they're just getting ready to there to speak to news crews and to the media to give any updates and clarifications over any information that has been released over the last 24 hour or so. There had been some thoughts -- well, some information that potentially a life raft that was seen on the -- in the South China Sea may have come from the airline, but that was quickly refuted by the Malaysian civil aviation authorities.

As I said they've been holding a news conference throughout the day here periodically giving information which really as we know isn't much right now.

Richard Quest, again, joins us now from New York as we both keep an eye on this news conference. Again, Richard, this is more an idea -- an image, I guess, to tell people that they are keeping an eye on what's happening in -- that there really isn't much for them to say?


RAJPAL: You've been listening to Malaysian civil aviation authorities there giving a couple of news lines out of this press conference right now. One of the news lines is that they are extending their area of search by 100 kilometer radius. Again, of course, they've been searching the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea. They are extending their search by 100 kilometers right now to again they said in their determination they have to find this aircraft, because that's the only way they will know what actually happened to this plane.

Right now, they have no -- there's been no sign of this aircraft.

There was an oil slick that they had seen earlier on in the South China Sea, but they've determined that that's not from the aircraft. And earlier, Mari Schiavo, the former inspector general for the U.S. Transportation Department had said to us that what they would be looking for is jet fuel on the sea, which would be slick, which would show a sheen, a rainbow sheen on the sea that would give some determination that that would actually be from an aircraft -- that would be jet fuel not an oil slick.

The other thing that they talked about was a two passengers who were having -- who were said to have stolen passports. They said that they video footage from the time that they checked in and departures, well they had apparently, according to the civil aviation authorities from Malaysia, said that they had gone through all security and complied with all security protocol that had been required by Malaysian authorities.

But they did go on to say again this is very -- information is very complicated and not very clear at all, but that they were not Asian looking men. They had earlier said that these -- that the people who had these stolen passports were Asian looking. And now they are going back on that, saying that they were not Asian looking men.

Again, they are still looking into the -- those two people, those people who were carrying those two stolen passports.

So lots of -- a couple of lines here that have been coming out of this news conference right now. Malaysian authorities have, though, have made a plea to stop the spread of speculation while search crews work to find any answer.

Jim Clancy joins us now from Kuala Lumpur.

And Jim, of course, that's what people are doing right now, because there is such shortage of answers or any clarification, because family members are desperate to know what's happened to their loved ones. And that's all they can do right now is speculate.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they can hope, they can pray. There's so many things that, you know, you imagine being in their situation, not knowing, not having any information, no closure of any kind -- remember, their relatives were here, which is about 72 hours ago, here in Kuala Lumpur, the last place they were seen. An hour later, they vanish into thin air on a perfectly clear night at cruising altitude, which should have been a perfect flight. They just vanished.

Now there's a lot of frustration. I talked to a Malaysian general, a military man here, right in this spot just a short time ago. And he looked down and he shook his head and he spoke openly of their frustration in trying to deal with all of this, their frustration in not being able to find any trace of this jetliner.

But he said they're not going to give up. And we heard it in that press conference, Mr. Abdel Rahman, the head of civil aviation was pressed. Is it time to say that this is no longer a search and rescue, that instead this is disaster recovery. And he wouldn't go that far. They don't want to go that far.

And perhaps its' a very difficult decision to make. I think it is. And the families have already been warned to prepare themselves for the worst. But there's no way to prepare for this, and especially there's no way to prepare for it when you simply don't have any answer, you don't have any clue as to what happened. Every time they get some evidence, every time a clue comes along, that oil slick he was talking about at the end, there was a lot of hope in that, but it was found out to be from a maritime vessel. It just wasn't the right type of petroleum.

And as a result of that, it's just one more lead, they found huge chunks that they thought were pieces of the jetliner. They thought they had the inside of a door, again, all of those debunked, dismissed, not related at all to the jetliner.

This is plane with 239 souls aboard that has simply vanished. And the mystery deepens and the frustration right along with it, Monita.

RAJPAL: All right, Jim, thank you. Jim Clancy there live for us from Kuala Lumpur.

Well, as those families of those on board wait for any answers, many people are wondering how this Boeing 777 could just vanish mid-flight with no word from the pilots. Our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh joins us now.

Are there are more clues, any more answers to that Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, Monita, no. And that is what is so baffling.

I mean, this is still considered one of the safest jets. Consider this, in its 19 year history the first fatal crash happened just last summer.

Now because of the Boeing 777 stellar safety record and its technological capabilities, even the most experienced aviators just simply cannot understand how this plane could just 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: Finding the plane and the black boxes. Without those black boxes, or even debris, there's no way to get a full picture of what happened. And this just simply remains a mystery -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Yeah, and we heard there from the Malaysian civil aviation authorities that's their priority right now, find any -- any information or anything, any debris from this plane to give them some clue.

Rene, thank you very much for that.

Well, as we've mentioned at least two passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had tickets purchased with stolen passports. Both passports were stolen in Thailand in the past two years. And both tickets were bought together in Thailand.

Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour spoke to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about that.


YINGLUCK SHINAWATRA, THAI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Initially, we don't know about their nationality yet, but we gave orders for the police to investigate the passport user because this is very important to Thailand, to give full cooperation to Interpol in the investigation about the passport user.

We are now following this.

At the same time, our Royal Air Force has been assigned, together with the navy, to search for the disappearing airplane in conjunction with the Malaysian government.


RAJPAL: Well, the revelation that at least two passengers on that Malaysia airlines plane were using stolen passports has raised some serious questions, among them how did they get on that flight without anyone checking their documents? And how often does that actually happen?

Pamela Brown takes a closer look.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (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.


RAJPAL: Pamela Brown reporting there.

The mysterious disappearance of this Malaysia Airlines flight is of major interest on our website. CNN security analyst Peter Bergen debunks several of the conspiracy theories that swirl after an airliner accident. And for easy reference, we've compiled fact about the search for Flight 370. You can find it all at

Let's take a look at some of the other headlines that we are keeping our eye on this hour. A pathologist is giving details about the autopsy of Reeva Steenkamp at Oscar Pistorius' murder trial. The judge has banned both video of audio streaming of the testimony, because the details are so graphic. The Olympic and Paralympic star denies murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year. He says he thought he was shooting at an intruder.

Mexican authorities say they have killed notorious cartel leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, but they said the same thing back in 2010. Now they claim that report was inaccurate and Moreno was killed on Sunday.

Officers say they were about to arrest him, but had to shoot Moreno after he opened fire. Officials say fingerprint tests this time confirm they killed the real Moreno, but they are still awaiting DNA test results.

Ukraine's armed forces have been brought to full combat readiness and are taking part in training exercises, this is according to the nation's ministry of defense. Meantime, clashes took place between opposing protesters at a rally in eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

A vote on potential secession of Crimea is just six days away.

Still to come here on News Stream, researchers say a new test could predict your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, but would you want to know?


RAJPAL: Welcome back.

We tend to think of robots as creations of the late 20th Century, but 18th Century watch makers were creating sophisticated machines long before the advent of computers and algorithms. Nick Glass traveled to Philadelphia to see one.


NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a darkened room in a museum in Philadelphia a machine with an astounding memory, a clockwork mechanical boy who can write and draw, an automaton from the Greek word automatus, meaning self-moving.

CHARLES PENNIMAN, CURATOR: It does three poems and four pictures.

GLASS: Charles Tenenman is 85. He first saw the mechanical boy when he was six or seven.

PENNIMAN: My father lifted me up so I could look inside the box and that was -- that was very exciting to see how these wheels and gears were producing a picture.

GLASS: The instructions, the memory are all in the so-called cams, a series of brass discs, each individually filed down and serrated.

PENNIMAN: There is one cam to make the pen got up and down, another cam to make it go from side to side, and another cam group make it go forward or backward. There are 72 cams altogether to make the whole thing work.

GLASS: The automaton arrived at the Franklin Institute in 1928 in pieces. They didn't find out who made it until they got it working again. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) written by Maiadets (ph) Automotan. That's Henri Maiadets (ph), a Swiss clock maker based in London in the 1790s.

These automata are from the so-called golden age, a half century from 1860 to 1910. Plaster heads, eyelashes of human hair and mohair, eyeballs of blown glass, teeth of real ivory. A chef gets sausoled (ph) on white wine as he prepares to cook the cat.

Automata like the peasant and the pig have a dozen or more different animations. The mechanism is at the back, the clockwork spring in a drum on the left, the cams with the memory for each animation on the right, all up and under the peasants tailcoat. His shoulders shake with laughter, his foot stamps with the fun of it all. And for the umpteenth time, the salivating pig is denied the black truffle in his other hand.

You've known him for over 80 years. Haven't your feelings changed?

PENNIMAN: Yes, indeed they have. The longer I know him, the more respect I have for the mysteries of how he works.


PENNIMAN: Well, they managed to get the information that makes ships and poems and so forth reduced to brass cams.

GLASS: With the advent of cinema, the fashion for automata came to an end, but they still have the power to astonish and delight us, adults and children alike.



RAJPAL: Welcome back to News Stream.

Researchers have developed a blood test that's showing promise in predicting Alzheimer's Disease. The test measures levels of certain fats that appear to be associated with dementia and memory loss.

Elizabeth Cohen reports.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There hasn't been a good way to predict who will get Alzheimer's Disease, whose brains will get the plaques and tangles that destroy memory and concentration, and who will be spared. But in a first-of-its-kind study, a simple blood test was able to predict who would get Alzheimer's.

DR. HOWERD FEDEROFF, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: This is a really wonderful piece of science. It's the most significant observation that we've been able to report in my entire scientific career.

COHEN: The researchers looked at the blood of healthy elderly people, checking for 10 fatty molecules called lipids. Those who had lower levels of lipids were more likely to develop Alzheimer's, or the memory problems that precede Alzheimer's.

On average the change, from healthy to sick, took just two years. And the test was over 90-percent accurate. The researchers and the Alzheimer's Association, point out that other labs need to validate that this test really works. And even if all goes well, the test won't be in doctors' offices for several years.

So who would want a test to predict Alzheimer's? After all, there's nothing you can do to stop it. Dr. Howard Federoff, the lead researcher in the study, says he'd want to know.

FEDEROFF: I would want to plan. I would want to work with my family to make sure that I attend to the issues that are important to us. But some people might not want to know that they're destined for a devastating disease.

COHEN: But some people might not want to know that they're destined for a devastating disease.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.


RAJPAL: And before we go, we want to recap our top story this hour. Authorities still do not know what happened to a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet missing for days now. Earlier this hour, we got an update on the search from transportation officials in Kuala Lumpur. Take a listen.


AZHARUDDIN ABDUL RAHMAN, MALAYSIAN CIVIL AVIATION CHIEF: ...on the east coast. This is (inaudible) and the area of search at the moment is 100 kilometers radius of (inaudible). And we are extending beginning tomorrow. And these are the areas that we are going to search -- we're going to search...


RAJPAL: Well, of course now they're saying they've extended their area of search now.

Let's get to Mari Ramos at the world weather center where of course the weather will play I guess a part in either hindering or helping the search efforts there -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they're going to have good weather and that's good news, definitely, for this search and rescue operation as they expand the area where they are searching.

Here is Kuala Lumpur right there. This is the area where the plane they had the last -- or near where they had the last radar contact. There's Bangkok, just kind of get your bearings in this area.

And this is the area that they're searching. And it is a huge area from the Andaman Sea all the way back over here into the South China Sea and of course across the peninsula here. So, they're looking at a very wide area.

And as far as the weather is concerned, we are looking at a situation where this time of year it tends to be actually fairly quiet weather wise. You know, in this region.

Now this picture right here of this helicopter, one of the search and rescue teams -- look at the background. I wanted you to see the ocean. Look how calm it is. You don't see any of those little whitecaps on the waves that that would indicate more windier conditions. Skies have been generally blue, a little bit of cloud cover every once in awhile. When you look at the current conditions, we're looking just a little bit of cloud cover. Temperatures fairly normal for this time of year. So as far as that's concerned, it looks pretty good.

Now notice when you look at the satellite image, you do get a little bit of cloud cover kind of moving in, especially over land areas. But over the water, it does remain fairly clear. And notice also just over land a few thunderstorms pop up once the heating of the day gets going, that wouldn't be too unusual for this time of year also, but it tends to be very -- or fairly dry, I should say, across this area.

When we get to the forecast, a similar situation, again high temperatures will be into the lower 30s across the region, a good mix of clouds and sun. And I dare to say mostly sunny skies across this area here.

In longer-term with the forecast. This the time of year where you do get those breezy conditions as the easterlies flow in this general direction here, Monita, mostly sunny skies are expected.

And if you think about how wide the area where they're actually searching is and how important it is for them to be able to have good visibility and light weather conditions. First of all, if you don't have the strong winds, it will hopefully if there is any kind of debris field that they find, it will hopefully keep it closer together. Richard Quest was talking about the more time goes on that the debris field would be expanding if it's over the water it would get harder and harder to find. So good weather conditions definitely helping in this case. Back to you.

RAJPAL: All right, Mari, thank you very much.

And that is News Stream. I'm Monita Rajpal. The news continues here at CNN. World Business Today is next.