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EARLY START

Search For Flight 370; High Stakes Eleven Hour Talks in Ukraine; Smoke on the Runway; Press Conference from Malaysia; Gruesome Pics From Oscar Pistorius's Trial

Aired March 14, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The search for the missing plane expands. New clues this morning that a Malaysian jetliner was possibly thousands of miles off course when it vanished. And new information that has some officials saying, could it have been a deliberate act? Where were the pilots heading? We're live with the very latest.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: High-stakes, 11th-hour talks this morning. The crisis in Ukraine now white hot. Russian troops massed at the border. Can a last-minute effort from the secretary of state now prevent chaos? We're live with the latest.

HARLOW: And panic on board, smoke filling the runway last night when a U.S. Airways plane tries to take off. Dramatic, new pictures of what went wrong.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Good morning. Happy Friday. I'm Poppy Harlow in for Christine Romans today.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Great to see you. Thirty minutes past the hour right now.

And this morning, there are new clues in the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight 370. New leads being chased down over an area spanning thousands of miles. It has now been seven days since that plane just seemed to disappear. Now, U.S. officials tell CNN the plane continued to send pings to satellites for up to five hours after it lost contact with radar, meaning it could have flown up to 2,000 miles off course in this direction you're seeing right now, which takes it out over the Indian Ocean.

This morning, officials in the U.S. are pouring over data that seems to indicate the jet did take that turn from its scheduled route, headed out into that huge area in the Indian Ocean, which is why a navy destroyer is heading there now to join in the search. This amid worry from Malaysian officials that communication systems on the plane seem to have been shut off, shut off at different times, and that's significant, because it points to the possibility of a deliberate act.

And Reuters is reporting its unnamed sources say the plane seems to have been flown intentionally towards the Andaman Islands. At a minimum, that tells you the direction the plane was flying, perhaps, that's all it tells us. Jim Clancy has the very latest. He is live from Kuala Lumpur. Jim, what can you tell us this morning?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. Let's go back. As we look at all of those reports, this is a quickly developing story. Last Sunday, we had the military here, the Malaysians telling us that they believe that the pilot may have attempted a turn back. Remember, off went the switch to the transponder that sends out the name of the aircraft. That can happen sometimes.

The reason they have that manual switch is, if the pilot thinks there's a short, something's wrong in the system. When he turned around, sources tell me here -- I asked them about the altitude, they said it was erratic. He got on that course and then never got off that course. Nobody ever heard from the plane again. Yes, it went towards the Andaman Nicobar Island. But at the time, you know, this may just be the setting. He may have lost navigation.

He may, indeed, have been trying to get back home and land the plane. Meantime, Malaysian officials telling us today that they are sharing their data with the FAA and the NTSB. They're using that data then to shift the search out into the Indian Ocean to track that plane from the radar records and from those data pings that you talked about.

The Indian navy, the Indian Air Force has joined U.S. vessels in the search along with a very advanced U.S. surveillance plane, a Poseidon, as it's called. They're looking for the ship where they expect to find it, and it's no longer thought to be in the South China Sea, but in the massive Indian Ocean -- Poppy.

BERMAN: And I think, Jim, that that is the key here. They've changed the area where they're searching to the Indian Ocean, a much, much larger area. And again, they seem to be working off this supposition that the plane was flown in that direction. There wasn't some catastrophic failure that blew it from the sky at its last point of radar contact, which would have been to the east of Malaysia.

Again, that seems to be the direction they're heading right now with developments happening really by the hour here. Our Jim Clancy in Kuala Lumpur, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Now let's take you to London, where a meeting is about to get under way between secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. The two set to discuss the crisis in Ukraine amid new drills by Russian forces taking place along Ukraine's eastern border and Crimea's preparations for a secession vote that could make it a permanent part of Russia.

Our foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott, is traveling with Secretary Kerry. She's live for us in London this morning. Good morning to you, Elise. I think, you know, the big question --

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Good morning, Poppy.

HARLOW: You've had the two meeting four times in the last week, daily phone calls. Any sense that this meeting is going to be different and lead to a breakthrough?

LABOTT: I don't think they're expecting any breakthrough at this particular meeting, Poppy. I think the Obama administration really expects this referendum to go forward on Sunday. And what they're trying to do is plan for the day after. I think they're really looking for assurances from Russia that even though the Crimeans will vote -- and it does look like most Crimeans will vote to join Russia -- that Russia doesn't take that extra step and actually annex the territory.

The Ukrainians have said there are formulas that they're willing to talk about in terms of more autonomy for the region to address Russian concerns. So, that's what Secretary Kerry's going to be trying to be negotiating with Minister Lavrov about how Russia can address its interests and concerns in Crimea without actually officially annexing the territory. Right now, he's meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Elise. We'll get right back to you as soon as we can. We want to take our viewers -- thank you for that reporting -- live now to a press conference in Malaysia. You've got the minister of transportation speaking, the director of general civil aviation along with others, the CEO of Malaysian Airlines. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

HISHAMMUDDIN BIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: -- aircraft in the search. Thirteen countries are now involved. Our priority remains finding the plane. We are following all leads and we continue to work closely with our international partners. We are grateful for the support of our friends and neighbors who have continued to assist us by sharing their data and their resources as we search for MH-370.

I speak for the Malaysian people when I say that our hearts are with the families and the friends of those on board the plane. Ladies and gentlemen, there's been a lot of media speculation today after comments from unnamed U.S. officials suggested the plane may have traveled for some time after losing contact.

As is standard procedure, the investigation team will not publicly release information until it has properly been verified and corroborated with the relevant authorities, nor do we want to be drawn into specific remarks that unnamed officials have reportedly made in the media. Since Sunday, we have worked closely with our international partners, including the U.S. team, whose officials have been here on the ground in Kuala Lumpur.

Since Wednesday, the Malaysian investigation team have shared more detailed information as it becomes available for verification. The international team are currently working on very fine, detailed information, but we have nothing to confirm at this moment. Widening of the investigation. The aircraft is still missing and the search area is expanded. Two days ago, the search area was widened to include the Andaman Sea.

Together with our international partners, we are now pushing further east into the South China Sea and further into the Indian Ocean. We want nothing more than to find the plane as quickly as possible, but the circumstances have caused us to widen our search. A normal investigation becomes harder with time, I understand, as new information focuses on the search, but this is not a normal investigation.

In this case, the information we have to process further and further afield. Engine data. Yesterday, we rejected a media report in which unnamed officials said that engine data showed the plane had kept flying for hours after last contact. We checked with Boeing and Rolls Royce who said the reports were not true.

And I quote -- this is a statement from Rolls Royce -- "Rolls Royce continues to provide its full support to the authorities and the Malaysian Airlines. Rolls Royce concurs with the statement made on Thursday, the 13th of March, by the Malaysian's transport minister regarding engine health monitoring data received from the aircraft."

Yesterday, authorities cited two oil slicks in the South China Sea, 16 nautical miles south of the last point of contact with MH-370. The first slick was investigated and analyzed and found to contain tiny traces of jet fuel. No jet was found in the vicinity. We do not believe the slick is linked to MH-370. Samples from second slick were investigated and analyzed and did not contain any jet fuel.

The investigation team, ladies and gentlemen, is probing (ph) all this that could help locate the missing aircraft. When we receive new information, and it has been very fine, we act accordingly. Wherever there is a possibility, we have a duty to investigate it. From the beginning of the crisis, we have worked hand in hand with all the relevant authorities, including international agencies, experts, and aircraft manufacturers.

We have daily technical meetings with all the key players. We have followed the protocol set out by the International Civil Aviation authority. We have been in regular contact with our neighboring countries, and we have welcomed all international offers of assistance. We are committed to one aim, which is to find MH-370.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Ladies and gentlemen. We'll start a Q&A session with the local media for the first part of it. We'll start on this corner.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

HUSSEIN: Let me just answer the second part of that question, and then I'll answer the first. In regards to the turn back, it was very clear that the chief of the air force indicated on Saturday, if I'm not mistaken, that though there is information of a turn back, but it was not 100 percent identified to be MH-370, and that is why we have expanded our search to the Straits of Malacca now further on, as I have said in my statement. That has not changed. AZHARUDDIN ABDUL RAHMAN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, CIVIL AVIATION DEPARTMENT: On the first question, we are now working very closely with our team from U.S. to get whatever information of satellite the U.S. have. We are working with that to determine where the aircraft. We cannot reveal the information right now because it's still under investigation.

And also, this evening, this evening, the team from the aircraft exit investigation from the UK and experts from Rolls Royce will arrive, and they also indicated they are studying the possibility of satellite complication whatever they have and will share it with us, and we are doing that investigation right now.

So, we cannot reveal again until we have verified information and confirm the possibility of where about the aircraft is. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

RAHMAN: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

RAHMAN: Under the protocol of International Civil Aviation Organization, the state of occurrence to leak the accident investigation, in this case, we still categorize the incident as missing aircraft. And it says in the (INAUDIBLE), if the missing aircraft, the location of the missing aircraft cannot be determined, the state of register has to carry out investigation of how where about the aircraft.

In this case, the state of registration is Malaysia, and we are following strictly the protocol of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes? Yes --

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

HUSSEIN: I cannot confirm whether there is no hijacking. Like I said from the start, and I've been very consistent, we're looking at all possibilities. As regards moving on to the Straits of Malacca and Andaman Sea, like I said, we have to confirm that the primary military radar actually identified that as MH-370.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

AHMAD JAUHARI YAHYA, CEO, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: Well, we welcome all assistance. In this case, I think the fact that we lost contact with the aircraft and we don't know where about of the aircraft, except for what air force has provided, and that was to be corroborated. So, I don't think we can make a comparison until we find the aircraft.

HUSSEIN: And this is where I like to stress, our focus must be to find the aircraft, and hopefully, the black box, because that will help us look further ahead and what sort of cooperation that we need, especially on the Air France crash, which took some time to recover and get more details of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Limit to one, please.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

HUSSEIN: Like I said, that is crucial, because I'll be the one, the most happiest person, if we can actually confirm that that is the MH- 370, because then we can move all our assets from the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca. At the moment, I'm not in the position to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

HUSSEIN: Unless they come up with more specifics, I don't think I should entertain that sort of questions or that sort of speculation from anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please. Please stand up. OK.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- from the plane after it lost contact with the control.

HUSSEIN: Sorry, can you repeat that question, please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The satellite received -- after it lost contact with control center.

RAHMAN: The satellite does not receive any distress signal from the aircraft, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ping? Electronic pings.

RAHMAN: Electronic --

(CROSSTALK)

RAHMAN: What the U.S. team are doing, they tried their best to get whatever sources from their satellite system to come up with a possibility, as I mentioned just now, possibility of where the aircraft should be.

HUSSEIN: As I indicated yesterday, we are now sharing information we had normally shared because of national security with agencies that could assist us. And this new information or the availability of this information in our hands is shared to these experts are now being digested. I hope within a couple of days that they can come to some conclusive position on what you asked earlier. And then, I will immediately inform the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- from where, sir?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we've already said that. We already said that earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, please.

(CROSSTALK)

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

(END LIVE FEED)

BERMAN: All right. We've been watching a news conference from Malaysian officials, including the transportation minister. He's clearly frustrated over the reports over the last few days that have been coming out from unnamed U.S. officials.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: But he did confirm some key points here. He did confirm that the search area has expanded in the search for 370.

HARLOW: Into the South China Sea and further into the Indian Ocean.

BERMAN: Right. East into the South China Sea where they've been looking, but the new shift is out further into the Indian Ocean.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: Which is where, according to U.S. officials, talking to CNN, they do believe that plane may have been headed. Now, these officials tell CNN and other media sources, they're basing this supposition on satellite pings that had been received, showing that that plane had pointed in the direction of the Indian Ocean and may have been flying for hours that way. Now, this Malaysian official would not comment on the satellite pings.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: Said they are still analyzing that data, though, he did go out of his way to deny the reports of engine data from yesterday, which was a totally different issue.

HARLOW: Citing statements from Rolls Royce and Boeing. BERMAN: Right. But the important thing is he did not address the key issue, which is whether they have satellite pings confirming it was headed to the Indian Ocean. Though, the fact they're searching there is almost confirmation of that.

HARLOW: Also saying look, we're sharing more information than we normally would due to national security concerns with other agencies, saying this is not a normal investigation. Of course, it is not a normal investigation at all. The bottom line, the aircraft is still missing. They're saying that is the key right now, to find it, but not many leads here still.

BERMAN: And the search area expands.

All right. We'll keep following this. We're going to take a break. We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Happening now at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in South Africa --

A former police investigator back on the stand, talking about what he saw the night Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and revealing a ballistics expert did not wear gloves when he handled the sprinter's gun. Prosecutors are again showing gruesome pictures taken at the Blade Runner's house that night.

Yesterday, Pistorius sobbed and vomited when he saw images of Steenkamp's bloodied body as attorneys flipped through a Powerpoint presentation of images taken that night.

At the terror trial of Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law, new revelations from an FBI agent who was one of the first to interrogate Suleman Abu Ghaith. He says the accused al Qaeda operative told him he had agreed to speak for the organization but would not be a soldier. Prosecutors say Abu Ghaith was a key recruiter of terrorists and a chief spokesperson for the terror group after the 9/11 attacks.

Meantime, new details as well in the case of a retired Florida police officer accused of fatally shooting a man in a movie theater following an argument over texting. Court documents reportedly show 71-year-old Curtis Reeves was also texting, sending a message to his son just minutes before pulling the trigger.

Forty-three-year-old Chad Oulson (ph) was shot dead in the incident. Reeves is claiming self-defense and has pled not guilty.

Today in New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Republican senator, Scott Brown, is taking part in a Republican leadership event, and we could, we could find out if he's planning another run for the Senate from his new home state. Brown is said to be seeking campaign staff here in New Hampshire, and some say he's very close to starting an exploratory committee.

We will see. As you know, Brown served just two years in the Senate, winning Ted Kennedy's former seat in a 2010 special election before being defeated by Elizabeth Warren.

Set to be released today, another set of documents likely to show what it was like in the White House during the end of the Clinton administration. The National Archives will put out another 4,000 pages that were held under seal since President Clinton left office. This will include documents related to the 2000 presidential campaign and Florida recount and the transition of the presidency -- to the presidency of George W. Bush.

It is likely the papers could shed some light on how the Clintons viewed that period. That will be interesting to pore through.

And this morning, oil giant, BP, is once again back in the running for government contracts, some four years after that gulf oil spill. The company has now reached a deal with the EPA to implement new safety and compliance rules in exchange for lifting a ban on performing government work. BP's stock was up on the news in after-hours trading.

And will the selling continue on Wall Street this morning? That is a really big question this week surrounding your money. It has been a rough week for stocks, a rough day for stocks around the globe. Futures hovering around breakeven right now. The early going, following pretty steep losses overseas. Stocks in Europe lower today, but not nearly as much as what we saw in Asia, where the Nikkei dropped more than three percent on the day, ending really a rough week.

It has been an ugly week for stocks. The Dow has closed lower four straight sessions, now down two percent for the week.

All right. That will do it for EARLY START. Thanks for joining us. Happy Friday. "NEW DAY" starts right now.