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Two Dead At SXSW Festival; At Least Six Dead in Building Explosion; Where Is Flight 370?; The Pope's First year

Aired March 13, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. A deadly accident at a popular musical festival. There are deaths. There are many injuries. Why did a car just plow into this crowd?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll rising this morning after two New York City buildings came crashing down. What investigators now believe could be to blame.

BERMAN: And stunning, new clues in the search for flight 370. Does this satellite picture show wreckage? And then this question, about the shocking report that the plane may have flown for four hours, four hours, after its last point of contact. Big implications there. We are live.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. A lot to talk about this morning. This is EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

Let's start with this news this morning, a tragic car crash at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, and police say it took less than one minute to inflict horrifying destruction. At least two people now dead, two dozen others hurt. A driver plowed into a crowd at South by Southwest, gathered outside a music venue. At least five of those hurt are said to be in critical condition at this hour.

This happened on a busy street packed with people just after midnight. Police say they tried to stop the driver for an apparent DWI when he sped off the wrong way down a one-way street and crashed. They say he then tried to run off, but they caught him. The driver now in custody. His name is not being released.

BERMAN: Also this morning, the death toll rising after the devastating building explosion here in New York City. The blast in East Harlem leaving at least six people dead, more than 60 hurt and several others still unaccounted for. A gas leak is being blamed for destroying an apartment building and another building right next door. This is what it looked like before the blast, and this is what it looks like now. The local utility, Con Edison, said it started getting calls a little after 9:00 a.m. about a gas smell. They sent crews, but just 18 minutes later, the building had been leveled.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was so powerful that you heard the boom and then it rocked the whole apartment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My neighbors came banging on my door, telling me to get out. I guess, they were evacuating the building. And I couldn't get out. My door was jammed. Everything off my windowsill fell, and I guess the impact of the explosion jammed the door as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I was walking, getting ready to go down the stairs, I smelled, like, gas. And I said let me go inside because I might have just left the stove on. But when I went inside it wasn't my stove. It wasn't.

ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB: We will be looking at all reports. We'll be looking at Con Ed's call logs to see when the first calls started coming in.


BERMAN: And the blast here was so strong, it showed up on earthquake sensors. Some in the neighborhood say that they had been smelling a gas odor for weeks, not a strong one, though. New York's fire chief says the fact crews had not yet made it to the building may have actually saved their lives. Again, there are still people unaccounted for in this disaster.

All right. Now to this stunning development. We're following the latest breaking news in the search for Malaysia air flight 370. It has now been more than six days since the Boeing 777 disappeared, and here is the stunning development this morning. The "Wall Street Journal" now reporting engine data shows the plane could have been flying for up to four hours after it dropped off radar.

And search crews are now using these satellite images, right there, as a guide, as they look for large pieces of something seen floating in the South China Sea on those radar images. Now, the pictures are from Sunday. And overnight, Vietnamese officials say they saw nothing when they flew over the site. Right now, Malaysian officials are updating the media about the search effort.

Jim Clancy is live in Kuala Lumpur with the latest. Jim, so much to go through here, and I think it's fair to say, let's start with this "Wall Street Journal" report that the Rolls Royce engines on this plane were sending data for four more hours after the last known contact with the plane. What can you tell us?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's according to U.S. investigators, and "Wall Street Journal" correspondent, Andy Paxter (ph), didn't name them, but they're saying that this went on for four hours, which means that this plane would have been still aloft. That opens up all kinds of theories about mechanical failure, theories about a hijacking, all kinds of theories.

So, it's very important to follow through on it, and that's what we've tried to do all day here in Kuala Lumpur, talking with the CEO of Malaysia Airlines. He told us, "I can't comment on it. You've got to go to the government officials." We went to the government officials. We went to the director general of civil aviation, and we also talked with a spokesman for the foreign minister's office.

They both told us that they're trying to verify the details of all of that, verify whether or not this data is really out there. Malaysia Airlines may or may not receive them, but that data also comes down from those engines to a recording center, a Boeing center in the United Kingdom, so they would have the data. Some people have it on their smartphones that work for the airlines.

They can tell how planes are doing all around the world. Very important fact. We're hoping that we get something on that here, but it really goes to the whole point of what we've been talking about. CNN broke the story earlier this week that this plane was on a path into the Indian Ocean.

Authorities here in Kuala Lumpur said they can't verify that the blip on their radar was actually flight 370, but someone, a source inside the Air Force told us that, yes, it was. So, we're hoping to get some developments here.

ROMANS: Right.

CLANCY: Important note. You know, a lot of times, we talk about this and it's only confirmed by actions. The Indian navy is set to put two ships that are on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands into the search -- Christine.

ROMANS: And now, we're listening -- we're listening Jim, to this press conference from Malaysian officials, and we can tell you they've updated on that particular lead, John.

BERMAN: Yes. They suggest at this point that that "Wall Street Journal" report that these Rolls Royce engines were sending signals back for four hours. Right now, Malaysian officials say that report is not accurate, that coming from the man standing at the podium right now. Now, we are looking into this independently, into this "Wall Street Journal" report, quoting U.S. officials, unnamed U.S. officials saying that this plane may have flown for four hours after its last known point of contact, based on Rolls Royce engine data.

However, as we said, that Malaysian official is saying that report is not accurate. So far, the information coming, I will say, from the investigators here and Malaysian officials, it has been inconsistent.


BERMAN: So, I think there is a need to follow up here. ROMANS: And even Vietnamese officials have complained that the lack of information has thwarted their attempts to try to go out there and actually do some searching. I think what is so interesting about this and why we're looking for so much information from this plane, this is one of the most high-tech pieces of equipment out there, right?

It's got triple redundancies for all of the information, electronic signals it's sending, and there was nothing. A transponder shut off and there was nothing, which is why investigators are combing through every possible electronic fingerprint, I think is fair to say, of this plane, and figure out what happened, which is why, you know, the trail led to those engines in the first place.

BERMAN: We'll keep listening more to this news conference to tell you any developments that come out of it.

ROMANS: All right. A new endorsement today for shortening drug crime sentences.

Attorney General Eric Holder set to speak before the U.S. Sentencing Commission and give his OK to reducing mandatory sentences for some non-violent offenders. Now, holder is expected to say the move will make the criminal justice system more effective and more efficient.

BERMAN: President Obama today is set to order the labor department to change who may be eligible for overtime pay, requesting new regulations altering the definition of what constitutes a supervisor so more can get overtime pay. As it stands now, supervisory employees can be exempt from overtime if they earn more than $455 a week. The new rules likely would not take effect until next year.

ROMANS: This morning, General Motors facing tough, new questions that the automaker has revealed it knew of issues with car ignitions as far back as 2001. Now, it is not clear whether that issue is related to a defect that prompted a recall of more than a million cars last month. General Motors previously said it learned of that issue links to 13 deaths back in 2004. both Congress and the justice department are investigating.

General Motors stock taking a big hit this week, down six percent so far. I say so far, because the markets haven't yet had a chance to react to the news that GM knew about an ignition switch problem before it earlier admitted.

Another down day from most stock markets in Asia. Renewed concern about China and its economy. European markets trying to shrug off those disappointing numbers on China's retail sales and industrial production. Things looking up right now for the U.S. Early indications are for a positive start to the day after three days this week of losses.

Big losses for the stock of nutritional products distributor, Herbalife, and word it's being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. That's right. Shares down eight percent.

BERMAN: The backstory there, oh, man, oh, man. Hedge funds involved. ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-eight minutes after the hour.

If you thought winter was over, think again! Yes, we are just a week away from spring, allegedly, but in the northeast today, it's cold, it's snowy, it's icy, and it's just plain ugly. And you know what? It's not spring yet.

ROMANS: No, it's not, but it's almost here. It's almost here. But you would never know that by looking at these pictures from Western New York. Along Lake Erie, I think, look at this. Heavy snow in Western New York, and it's not static. It's snow, making it all but impossible to see. Some areas near buffalo, Berman, Buffalo got more than a foot of snow!

BERMAN: It was all over that part of the country. Deadly accidents along highways in Ohio. Snowy conditions leading to crashes like this one, shutting down parts of the Ohio turnpike for hours. At least three people were killed and a state trooper there was seriously hurt.

ROMANS: This system also bringing some pretty high winds. Take a look at these, huge tree down near Atlanta.

BERMAN: Yikes!

ROMANS: Fell on to a home. No one was inside that home, but you can guarantee they're calling the insurance adjuster this morning.

BERMAN: Yes. I'll bet you they are. All right. Indra Petersons is tracking all of this for us. A lot to talk about, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's so nice like two days ago. I wish we could just stay there.


PETERSONS: But today -- it was like painful, right, walking outside, because not only was it cold, but the winds were really kicking up out there. You can tell the difference as the temperatures have significantly dropped, especially into the east coast. All that cold air finally pushed its way in. You can actually feel it. New York right now 12 degrees -- or I should say 21 degrees right now, but that is without the wind chill.

I mean, the winds are gusting 30, even 40 miles per hour this morning. Philadelphia gusting about 43, New York City gusting to 41, and we know what that does, it makes it feel so much colder or even subzero. Pittsburgh feels like seven below right now. Detroit feels like four below. Now, New York feels like single digits once you factor that in, and Boston just into the teens.

So, yes, it has been rough. A lot of snow's already fallen, over a foot of snow, especially out towards Buffalo where they had blizzard conditions yesterday. Still dealing with the leftover remnants of the system as it's kind of pushing off towards the northeast, but still expecting more snow out towards Vermont and even Maine today, but not looking for too much.

Ignore this, the model got to be wrong with that, but anywhere from about three to five inches still left as the system kind of tries to pull out of here. The big thing will be the temperatures. This is the good news, guys. We'll actually rebound by tomorrow. Today's not great, only 28 is your high New York City, but 40s by tomorrow, 50s by Saturday. D.C.'s going to go from 30s to mid-60s by Saturday. So, hello, on the weekend.

ROMANS: Shorts weather after all we've been through.


PETERSONS: We need it. It's not a want, it's a need.

ROMANS: Thanks so much, Indra.

A milestone for the pope, marking one year as leader of the Catholic Church, facing many new challenges going into the year ahead. We're live after the break.


ROMANS: It was one year ago today that a cardinal from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, walked into the Sistine Chapel and walked out Pope Francis, elected by his peers to lead the Catholic Church. Already, he's one of the most popular pontiffs in generations, and he's making his own mark on the Vatican. Delia Gallagher is in Rome with more. What a year it's been for this pope.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, quite a year. I think the general consensus is that, indeed, he has managed to renew worldwide interest in the papacy and give some hope that some of the pressing problems of the Catholic Church might be addressed anew, Christine. Now, the pope is not in the Vatican today. The celebrations are somewhat subdued because he's on retreat, which is a tradition this time of year.

But the pope has put his own spin on it, as by now, we've become accustomed to, and he's decided not to hold his retreat inside the Vatican, but to take his staff about 60 miles south of Rome until the end of the week.

The Vatican is commemorating the occasion with a special e-book on their website, which has some pictures and quotes from the first year of this papacy, emphasizing some of the themes that this pope would like to highlight, the themes that we've heard about, such as poverty, justice, and mercy -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Delia Gallagher, a decidedly modern flourish to a very age-old institution. Thanks, Delia.

BERMAN: Such an impact already, but a lot of people are saying he's got very big expectations now to meet in this next year and as he moves forward. So, that will be interesting to see what he does.

Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." So much news. Brooke Baldwin joins us now.

ROMANS: Hi, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Hey, good morning, guys. Yes. There is lot happening. Breaking overnight. First, beginning with just a horrible, horrible tragedy at that South by Southwest music festival in Austin. I mean, you see the pictures here. This guy apparently plowed through these barricades, this driver, straight into a crowd at south by late, late last night in Austin.

As of right now -- and obviously, this could change -- two dead. We're hearing something like 23 injured. Rapidly developing situation. We'll have the latest and also talk to an eyewitness from Austin this morning.

Also ahead, ugh, the mystery continues, day six. We'll have the latest on the search for that missing Malaysia Airlines flight. Overnight, a search plane did not find anything after satellite images indicated a possible debris field maybe from the plane. That's what some were thinking earlier yesterday as they saw this image over the ocean. Could there still be hope?

We're talking with aviation experts. We have reporters live on the ground. So, we're all over that this morning. But still, so many questions. You know, you guys have been covering the reports from the "Wall Street Journal" as to whether or not this plane was even flying multiple hours, you know, after it lost contact with the ground. So, still a lot of questions here, day six.

ROMANS: Trying to understand these bursts of data this plane should have been sending, you know that it wasn't. And it just is frightening. All right.

BERMAN: Big questions. Stunning implications there. All right. Thanks.

ROMANS: Also, be sure to tune in tonight, 10:00 p.m. Central -- eEstern, rather, 9:00 Central for "CHICAGOLAND" here on CNN. Don't miss that.

BERMAN: It's a great, great show.

ROMANS: Yes. A convicted killer and member of the Manson Family cult could be soon out of prison? How did this happen? And when could he be free? That's next.


BERMAN: All right. You're looking at live pictures right now from Kuala Lumpur where Malaysian officials are updating the media about the search for flight 370. Still a giant, giant mystery. These officials now are denying a "Wall Street Journal" report that the plane may have been flying for four hours after it lost contact with radar. That would just have giant implications.

It would mean the plane could have flown thousands of miles beyond where they're searching right now. And then, the question would be why, why was it flying for four more hours? Malaysian officials are denying that "Wall Street Journal" report. The acting transportation minister is now saying his country will turn over its radar data to the U.S. and China so the U.S. and China can help figure out where the plane went.

He insists that Malaysia has nothing to hide. He says that country's committed to finding that jet with 239 people on board. It's now been missing for six days.

And there are beginning to be serious questions now about how Malaysia has handled this investigation.

ROMANS: And the families are just outraged. The families want to know something. Every day there's a new report and confusion about where the search and the investigation is heading.

All right. A convicted killer and a former follower of Charles Manson now closer to being free from prison. Bruce Davis has been granted parole again. The 71-year-old has served nearly 43 years for two 1969 murders. He has been granted parole twice before. Both decisions shot down by California governors. Only in recent years has Davis acknowledged his role in the murders. After a 120-day review period, the governor has 30 days to make a final decision.

BERMAN: A court appearance today in Los Angeles for former NFL star, Darren Sharper, as prosecutors in Louisiana move to extradite him on rape charges. Sharper is being held in California where he has been indicted for rape and drug offenses. The pro-football veteran is also -- was also just charged with drugging and raping two women in Arizona.

ROMANS: A New Jersey teenager has apparently reconciled with her parents a week after a judge denied her claim that they pay her expenses. Eighteen-year-old Rachel Canning (ph) had sued her parents, demanding child support and high school private school tuition, claiming they kicked her out. They abused her and kicked her out.

Canning's attorney says the teen has been pressured into coming back home, but a lawyer for her parents called it a private matter that never should have gone to court.

BERMAN: Well, if this family can fix it themselves, that, of course, the best solution.

ROMANS: Absolutely. And that's what the judge said, too, this family needs to work harder on trying to get back together than fighting each other in court over who pays for what.

Coming up, more Americans may be decided to become home buyers! Really important, brand-new numbers for first-time home buyers that makes me much more enthusiastic about the housing recovery than I've been for some time.

ROMANS: We love it when you're enthusiastic.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. It's "Money Time."

Stocks in the U.S. look to start the day higher. Futures up. Stocks in Europe trying to reverse some losses from yesterday. Asian markets closing mixed.

Really important information for first-time home-buyers. That dream of home ownership may become a reality for millions more people this year. Four million would-be first-time home-buyers are saying they want in. Nearly 10 percent of renters in a new survey say they'll buy their first home this year. Cities where a higher percentage of renters say they'll buy this year, Miami, Phoenix, Denver, and Atlanta.

This is great news for so many that have been missing out on the housing recovery, but will creeping mortgage rates erode that dream? Mortgage rates have been rising. They are currently about 4.3 percent nationally. That's according to Freddie Mac. It's a full percentage point above last year's lows of 3.3 percent, but more than two points below the --

BERMAN: You give it then you take it away.

ROMANS: I'm telling you, as those rates have been rising, it's so interesting because banks are more likely to let first-time home- buyers get a loan. Now, you could buy a house with a bonus, did you know that? The Wall Street banker bonus checks looking very good this year. The average bonus on Wall Street, $164,000, up 15 percent.


ROMANS: Bankers haven't seen bonuses like this since before the 2008 financial crisis. A $164,000! What that kind of money could buy outside of New York, a house in cities like -- just the bonus could buy a house in Nashville, Tucson, Las Vegas, or you could send two kids to a four-year public university, all costs included, still have some money left over for grad school, or you could send one kid to a four-year private university, just with one bonus, and pay for spring break.

It is spring break. How about passes to Disney? A $165,000 could buy you 1,666 single-day passes to Disney.

BERMAN: Now, that's an investment in your future right there.


BERMAN: Way to go.

ROMANS: Most people in America, I think, are shocked how big the Wall Street bonuses are. A $165,000, biggest since the crash.

BERMAN: Well, congratulations to the bankers and glad it's working out for them.

Thanks for watching us. "NEW DAY" starts right now.