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EARLY START

Search Expands for Missing Plane; Crisis in Ukraine; Emergency on Runway; Deportation Changes

Aired March 14, 2014 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The mystery of Flight 370. Happening now, new data showing it may have flown for hours thousands of miles from where it last made contact, with some officials believing there are now signs this was a deliberate act. Where were the pilots heading? We're live with the very latest.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And high stakes. Eleventh hour talks this morning. The crisis in Ukraine now white hot. Russian troops mass at the border. Can a last-minute effort from the secretary of state prevent chaos? We'll take you live to Ukraine.

BERMAN: Emergency on the runway. Passengers evacuated when a plane's front tire blows out during takeoff. New, dramatic pictures of this smoky scene. We will take you there this morning.

Wow, a lot going on this morning. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Christine Romans is out today. It is Friday, March 14th, 5:00 a.m. on the coast.

Let's start with our stop story this morning. There are still more questions than answers about what happened to a Malaysia Airlines jet missing now for seven days with 239 people on board. U.S. officials tells CNN the plane continued to send ping to satellites for up to five hours after it lost contact with radar. And means it could be up to 2,000 miles off course.

The last signal seemed to indicate that it did take a turn from its scheduled route and headed out over the Indian Ocean. Malaysian officials say the communication systems on the plane seem to have been shut off at different times. That's important. That could point possibly to a deliberate act.

Adding to all of this confusion, "Reuters" now reporting this morning that radar data shows the plane may have been flown intentionally towards the Andaman Islands. Now, a U.S. Navy destroyer is joining the search, with officials saying there is now a significant likelihood that the plane could be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Jim Clancy has the very latest for us. He is in Kuala Lumpur.

Jim, what do you know? JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is no doubt whatsoever that about an hour after the plane left Kuala Lumpur on Saturday morning that the pilot or someone turned that plane around more than 90 degrees. Malaysian authorities originally called it a turn back, thought they were maybe returning to Kuala Lumpur. That course, though, set it going directly into the Indian Ocean. Malaysian government says it is aware of U.S. reports overnight about the satellite pings, about the fact that it was sending back data.

It says it is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and others providing them that raw radar records, those things that are being used to figure out where this plane is located. U.S. warships now moving east to west along what is believed to be the suspected flight path of the missing Flight 370. The Indian Ocean depth is an average of about 13,000 feet, which may present problems.

But remember, Air France's black box was recovered from 16,000 feet. Right now, the Indian navy is joining U.S. warships in that hunt in the Indian Ocean. We're awaiting a press briefing later this hour, hoping to get more details from Malaysian officials.

Meantime, in Beijing, we're told that the families of the missing people aboard that jetliner are hoping that the scenario that comes true is a hijacking. It's the only one that affords them the hope they will see their loved ones again. But that may not be likely -- Poppy.

HARLOW: You know, Jim, if this "Reuters" report is confirmed -- again, this is not our data, this is coming from a "Reuters" report point, saying that radar shows the plane may have been flown intentionally toward the Andaman islands. Do we have a sense for how far off they were from when the plane was turned, if it would be safe to land there? Do we know what that scenario would entail?

CLANCY: Look, "Reuters" doesn't have to tell us that. CNN can tell you, here from Kuala Lumpur, what the Malaysian officials told us -- they came out on Sunday with this -- that plane did a turn-back. Nothing automatic is going to turn the plane around more than 90 degrees. The Andaman Islands are simply along that path. If it was trying to return to Kuala Lumpur, it would have had to have turned at a much sharper angle. It didn't do that.

HARLOW: Got it.

CLANCY: It set a course going out to the Indian Ocean. The Andaman Islands are just along that course.

HARLOW: Right.

Thank you. Thank you, Jim. We appreciate the reporting this morning.

BERMAN: It does raise so many questions, though.

All right. Let's turn now to Crimea, where this morning all indications are that this weekend's secession vote is likely to go in favor of those who want to secede and join Russia. Troops are now massing on Ukraine's eastern border, a dramatic build-up raising the specter of a Russian invasion. In just an hour now, Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with his Russian counterpart in London. They're trying to find a diplomatic solution to keep this crisis from getting worse.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is in Simferopol this morning in Crimea.

Nick, what's the feeling on the ground there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, really, everyone looks someday a done deal here, the referendum moving full speed ahead to bring this peninsula closer to Russia, if not make it actually part of the Russian Federation itself.

We're seeing moves, talk of the Russian ruble, Moscow's time zone being introduced here. In fact, one man I spoke to yesterday considered himself a subject of Russia as soon as the polls closed Sunday. But yes, the real fear, what's happening on the eastern border of Ukraine and Russia, near Kharkiv (ph) an industrial town to the east, 8,500 Russian troops conducting exercises which the Russian ministry of defense said were there to make them familiar with territory they're not particularly aware of at the moment. That's going to be causing real fears in new government in Kiev.

We've also seen an outbreak of violence between pro-Russian and pro- Ukrainian protesters in Donetsk last night where one person was killed and about 17 injured, raising fears, too, that perhaps that violence could be used as a pretext for further Russian intervention here.

I mean, the point is, we're seeing John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov today meeting in London to try and stem or find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Crimea, but still we're finding things moving on significantly faster on the ground themselves. It's almost like it's a done deal here. It's unlikely diplomacy will stop Sunday's referendum going ahead.

I think many in western capitals are just hoping it stops here, and what we're seeing across the border from Kharkiv in Ukraine isn't the beginnings of some further Russian intervention elsewhere, John.

BERMAN: The key, Nick, as you said, if it is, in fact, a done deal in Crimea, where you're standing right now, what's the game that Vladimir Putin is playing? I hesitate to even call it a game with troops amassing near the border there. And what are the chances that, you know, he's not going to walk back from Crimea, then? Is your best bet to get him to withdraw from the border up in the eastern part of Ukraine?

WALSH: I think a lot of people, long-term observers of Vladimir Putin, are very confused right now. Normally, you can understand what he's doing, even though you don't necessarily find it agrees with your world view.

A lot of people, a lot of reports we're seeing, he's got a very closed clique of advisers around him, perhaps not giving him the full picture the entire time.

What is the end game? I think certainly, Crimea will be part of Russia or extraordinarily close to Russia within the next week or so. Does he have further ambitions to bring the Russian speaking parts of Ukraine closer to Russia or even perhaps stage a similar even nonviolent venture of Russian troops as we've seen in Crimea, it's unclear.

There is going to be clearly an impact on the Russian economy persisting in the weeks ahead. That could weaken Vladimir Putin. And you heard John Kerry talking about very serious steps on Monday after the referendum if this diplomatic off-ramp isn't taken.

So, I think there will be a crisis ahead around the Kremlin. Whether or not those inside the Kremlin are aware how significant it is, we'll have to see. They are pursuing a distinct agenda here and I think it is troubling many people, and it isn't something a lot of people were able to predict -- John.

BERMAN: Nick Paton Walsh for us in Simferopol -- our TV screen there says it's still part of Ukraine. They'll be voting to decide whether that continues in the future on Sunday. Our thanks to Nick.

HARLOW: Happening today at the White House, President Obama set to meet with immigration activists a day after ordering Homeland Security to come up with better ways of handling deportation. The White House had insisted for months that there was really nothing they could do without congressional approval, but activists have been calling on the president to make changes as reform stalls in Congress.

BERMAN: The White House also taking aim today at for-profit colleges, announcing a new proposal to crack down on what it calls predatory poor-performing schools. The new rules expect to take effect late 2016, denying certain institutions access to federal student aid, punishing programs that saddle students with debt but do little to train them for what the White House calls gainful employment.

According to the White House, students at for-profit colleges make up only 13 percent of higher education, but they account for 31 percent of all student loans.

HARLOW: This morning, more than 2 million Americans may be a step closer to seeing their unemployment benefits reinstated. Senate negotiators have reached a deal to extend those payments for five months, and it would be retroactive to last December. That is when the Senate failed to find a compromise to keep those checks going out. Republicans believe they have enough support to pass the deal in the Senate. Unclear, though, how it will go in the House.

BERMAN: So, it turns out problems at a nuclear missile base in North Dakota were far worse than originally thought. Documents obtained by the "Associated Press" show that the Minot Air Force Base only passed an inspection last year because of the good work from cooks and maintenance staff. The airmen responsible for nuclear missiles themselves, they flunked. All right. New trouble for General Motors after the handling of an ignition problem now linked to 12 deaths. A research group says crash data shows airbag failures in two G.M. models were responsible for more than 300 deaths from 2003 to 2012. G.M. calls the data analysis flawed. Those models of Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions have also been recalled for ignition switches that turn off mid-drive.

In the meantime, NBC News is reporting that G.M. failed to issue a fix for the faulty ignition switches nine years ago because executives made, quote, "a business decision that would have cost too much." A G.M. executive told NBC the company is troubled by past decisions that were made.

HARLOW: Worries over China's slowing economy and continued turmoil in Ukraine sending stocks lower around the globe. Stocks in Asia closing lower. The Nikkei down very sharply, down 3.3 percent. The Hang Seng losing 1 1/2 percent overnight. European markets opened for just about an hour or so of trading so far, looking like a pretty glum day there as well.

It has been a week of straight selling for the Dow. The Dow Industrials, as you saw yesterday, dropping 231 points. The Dow has lost 2 percent of its value this week so far. The NASDAQ heads into Friday sharply lower for the week. The S&P 500, which was just hitting record highs last week, has pretty much erased its gains for the year.

BERMAN: The Dow does not like uncertainty, what's going on in the Ukraine right now.

HARLOW: Absolutely not, and with China.

BERMAN: A lot of uncertainty.

HARLOW: All right. Well, it was pretty cold getting into work this morning. I mean, not that bad. Yesterday was really cold. But things are warming up for the weekend.

Indra Petersons is here with the weather.

It's going to get nice for the weekend?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, yes. This is the good news. Things are going to be starting to get a lot better out there. We're going to be talking about temperatures really going up over the next several days.

Now, today, it is rough. We're talking about temperatures below freezing in many places feeling like subzero, especially in the Northeast this morning. And, of course, we have a little clipper coming through, so chances for snow.

Keep in mind. It's all about this big dome of high pressure bringing very chilly temperatures. You can actually tell even down in the South, we're talking about freeze warnings this morning!

Guys, it is March. We're only like a week away from spring. Where is it? We need it so badly.

Look at these temperatures. Burlington right now 6 below. That's what we're talking about.

HARLOW: Wow.

PETERSONS: Raleigh 28, Atlanta 37 degrees.

The good news -- see that bad boy, this ridge of high pressure? It is moving offshore. Say good-bye. That is good news, because New York City will rebound to 40s today, and it only gets better as we go through the weekend. In fact, D.C. also looking at about 58 degrees for today.

So, huge difference. Just keep in mind, there is another storm we'll have to start watching. Notice all this moisture coming out of the South. By tomorrow, that's going to develop. A threat for severe weather's already going to be out there, certain places like Austin, Dallas, keep in mind, strong thunderstorms, even the threat for tornadoes. That's the bad sign of spring.

We really start to see two air masses collide. All that moisture continues to build into the Southeast. The cold air goes with it, and then we have the threat, look at this, Sunday into Monday for St. Paddy's, talking about snow in toward the mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast. We're going to monitor where this guy goes.

HARLOW: Not over yet.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, Indra, that high pressure off the coast, that's a bad boy?

PETERSONS: That's a bad boy, unless you call it a good boy that brings really cold temperatures. It's up to you.

BERMAN: Just wanted to be sure. All right.

HARLOW: That woke him up.

All right. Indra, thank you. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right. Thirteen minutes after the hour.

Terrifying moments aboard a U.S. Airways jet. That plane slamming on to the runway as it was about to take off. Passengers running from the scene.

Check out these dramatic pictures. We'll tell you more, just ahead.

HARLOW: Also, teenage tragedy when a father finds a boy hiding in his daughter's bed. We'll have that story for you straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: An investigation under way this morning into a scary accident on a runway at Philadelphia International Airport. A U.S. Airways jet blew a tire on takeoff. Those on board say it was very frightening to feel the plane bounce, then screech to a halt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIFFANY YARNELL, PASSENGER: The second we went up, it just came crashing down, and it was like -- then everyone started screaming.

LISA DIBUCCI, PASSENGER: Bumpy. Then we noticed we were going back down and then stopped and, you know, felt it. Then they said evacuate the plane, and everyone started panicking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The 149 passengers on board were hurried off the Airbus A- 320, taken back to the terminal and put on later flights for Ft. Lauderdale, where they were headed. Pretty dramatic pictures. Only one minor injury reported, thank goodness.

BERMAN: Authorities in New York this morning continue sifting through the rubble at the site of that deadly explosion that leveled two apartment buildings. Right now, the death toll stands at eight with as many as five people still unaccounted for.

Authorities plan to test a gas main at the site as they try to find the cause of a leak believed to be behind the explosion. Poppy even up there the last few days.

HARLOW: Yes, very, very, very tragic.

All right. New details also this morning about the man police say was intoxicated when he drove his car straight into a crowd at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, killing two, leaving nearly two hurt.

Rashad Owens is in jail facing two counts of capital murder. Court records show Owens as a history of arrests in other states, including a past dui charge. Relatives tell a newspaper Owens was studying music production and was in Austin to perform, and Owens may have taken the car from a friend who reported it stolen.

BERMAN: Happening now at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in South Africa, a former police investigator is back on the stand talking about what he saw the night Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He's testifying that a police ballistic expert handled the sprinter's gun without any gloves.

Now, prosecutors are again showing some gruesome pictures taken at the Blade Runner's house that night. Yesterday, Pistorius sobbed and vomited when he saw an image of Steenkamp's bloodied body. As attorneys flipped through a PowerPoint presentation of images taken that night.

HARLOW: Police in Houston are investigating a deadly shooting involving a father, his teenage daughter and another teen who was in her bedroom. Police say the father walked into that bedroom early Thursday morning, found a 17-year-old boy in her bed, a boy his daughter claimed she did not know. The father and the teen argued, and then the father shot the 17-year-old, but police say the daughter was lying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. BEN BEALL, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS SHERIFF'S OFFICE: He does appear to be known to the daughter. He is not a stranger. We don't know if the father knew him or not.

ERICA JORDAN, NEIGHBOR: Her dad doesn't let her bring boys in the house because she said her dad is overprotective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Well, neighbors say the family was pretty quiet, had just moved into the neighborhood. No charges have been filed yet in that case.

BERMAN: What an awful story there.

All right, 19 minutes after the hour now. In just a moment, we'll take a little turn here. We'll talk about the madness, the big wins, the huge upsets, the sweet, last-second shots at buzzer!

Andy Scholes has all the details coming up in the "Bleacher Report," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, selection Sunday is just days away and college basketball teams all around the country. They are fighting to get into the big dance.

HARLOW: Andy Scholes joins us now this morning with the "Bleacher Report."

You can tell what Berman's excited to talk about this morning, right?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Oh, yes. Good morning. We're all excited about this.

You know, the drama of March Madness is here. This week's conference tournaments, you know, they're the last chance for teams to strengthen their resumes before selection Sunday. The marquee matchup for the big 12 tournament last night was Kansas taking on Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks' freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins right here throwing down the alley-hoop. He had 30 points in this one as Kansas beat Oklahoma State 77-70 in overtime.

In other action, the defending champs, Louisville, they had no problem with Rutgers. And by no problem, I mean no problem. The Cardinals beat the Scarlet Knights by 61 points, 92-31 was the final. That one had to hurt.

All right, trending to bleacherreport.com right now is the Seton Hall/Villanova finish. Wildcats were up by one with four seconds left when Sterling Gibbs comes back with the step back jumper. It's good. Seton Hall stuns Nova 64-63, and that probably cost Villanova a one seed in the NCAA tournament.

All right, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has seen a lot of big games in his 38 years on the bench. The one thing that hasn't changed? That fear before every game that it might be his last one. That's just one of the topics the hall of fame coach covered when he sat down with CNN's Rachel Nichols on "UNGUARDED." You can see that interview tonight at 10:30 Eastern, right here on CNN.

After passing his physical, Jonathan Martin officially became a member of the San Francisco 49ers yesterday. The Dolphins traded Martin to the Niners for a seventh-round pick earlier in the week. Martin says he's excited to have a fresh start.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN MARTIN, 49ERS OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: I've been out of ball for about five months, so I can't wait to get going now. We start in about a month, so just try to be reunited with Coach Harbaugh and to be in the Bay Area and playing for this great family and begin the work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Good luck to Martin with his new team. Of course, it's probably going to be good thing that he's playing for his old coach, Jim Harbaugh, who he played for at Stanford.

BERMAN: That makes sense for him to go there and give it another try.

All right. Andy, great to see you this morning.

HARLOW: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty-five minutes after the hour.

A lot going on this morning. The search for that missing Malaysian jetliner is expanding, and the mystery just getting bigger by the minute. Did the plane fly thousands of miles off course before crashing into the Indian Ocean? We are live with the very latest right after the break.

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