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Mystery of Flight 370; Extending of Search for Malaysian Airline Plane; Remembering Passengers of Flight 370; Vednita Carter's Non-Profit Organization Fighting Sexual Exploitation; Coming Referendum in Crimea; Black Market for Counterfeit and Stolen Passports

Aired March 15, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are so glad to have you on this Saturday morning where there are huge developments overnight in the flight and the disappearance of 370 out of Malaysia.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, this story continues to develop hour by hour. Good morning, I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: It's 6:00 o'clock here on the East Coast. This is "NEW DAY SATURDAY." And, of course, we're starting this morning with the breaking news of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Now, overnight, the Malaysia Prime minister confirmed that Boeing 777 deviated from its flight plan because of -- and this is a quote -- "deliberate action by someone on the plane." Now, the prime minister stopped short of calling it a hijacking. But a government source tells the Associated Press that's exactly what happened. And this is a quote, as well. "It is conclusive."

PAUL: Conclusive that it is a hijacking.


PAUL: That official told the AP. Now, we want to get you caught up on what we've been learning overnight. The search area has expanded now, and this is huge as far north as Kazakhstan. You see that bear. And then from Kazakhstan, as far south, look at how far this is, as the southern Indian Ocean. Now, this comes as new satellite information shows the plane may have flown for another not five hours as was first expected but seven after losing contract with ground control. Also, we've learned Malaysia has called off the search in its entirety in the South China Sea. So, they've abandoned that. And they've refocusing its investigation on passengers and crew members now.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, and we also learned late last night of some erratic moves by the plane. Malaysian military shows the plane climbing to 45,000 feet and then descending to 23,000 feet before once again heading to higher altitude.

PAUL: So, right now, the biggest clue investigators may have as they search for Flight 370 and the 239 people aboard, by the way, are, you know, these pings that are set by the plane and they are caught by satellites.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. CNN's Jim Clancy is following the investigation live from Kuala Lumpur where the plane departed just after midnight eight days ago now. And Jim, of course, joins us live.

Jim, Malaysia's prime minister has officially shifted this story line from what caused this plane to disappear to who caused it to disappear, given a lengthy statement overnight. But at least here China we are hearing is not satisfied with what they're hearing. Just getting this in from China's foreign ministry, demanding comprehensive, more comprehensive and accurate information from Malaysia. Tell us about that. And what we're hearing from the prime minister there?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we should note, that we just had that briefing, actually a statement really, read out by the prime minister, and there in the front row is the Chinese ambassador. Interestingly, the Russian ambassador was also here. But let me get you up to date. A little bit of news coming our way. He said they were going to look again at the pilots of the aircraft, as well as the passengers. Police right now are at the home of the older pilot. The man with the most experience who piloted this airplane. They're looking closely at his residence right now. Police have a street blocked off in the area of Kuala Lumpur, as a result of this ongoing investigation. Now, you know, obviously that is not an indication that they think he is guilty, but they know that they have to investigate everything about this. Dramatic developments. And as you say, he changed the narrative about this. Who might have been responsible? Take a listen.


NAJIB RAZAK: The Royal Malaysian Air Force Primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed, but not confirmed, to be MH-370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over peninsula before turning northwest. Up until the point, at which it left military primary radar coverage, this movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.


CLANCY: Now, they knew that the pilot -- always they thought that the pilot was the one who turned the aircraft around. They weren't sure why. Now, they are saying they've changed their line a little bit. It was deliberately, some would say, trying to evade the radar. Trying to confuse people. Now, one of the main communications systems, it sends back all the electronic data about the plane, was disabled right after takeoff. It was still flying over the Malay Peninsula making its way towards Beijing. And then less than an hour later when the air space moved from Malaysian airspace to Vietnam airspace, that is when the transponder was turned off and a pilot sharply changed course. So, we've got a situation here that is rapidly developing. More information from a Malaysian government, I think than we've seen in the last week. Christi, Victor. PAUL: And I know, Jim, a lot of people have been waiting for this information to be shared. The Malaysian government has been criticized by a lot of people as not sharing enough information soon enough, now that they are finally getting into the home of that pilot, which a lot of people are wondering why did it take eight days for that to happen. Did they suspect possible pilot suicide? And what do we know about this captain whose home they finally got into?

CLANCY: Well, we know that he was very experienced. No, they have not said anything about a motive whatsoever. I haven't heard that from any sources at all, even mentioning it. We must say that, you know, I know that the questions are raised what -- you know, for seven, eight, days haven't done anything. They actually have police outside the home watching it, but they did not enter the home. And that's the difference that we see today. A very large police presence there. As they say, that blocked off the street. All of these things are going to have to play out. The passenger list, they're going to have to go over that all over again with a fine tooth comb. They have shifted this investigation, all the searches in the South China Sea are cancelled.

And now, we're looking at a huge area. You showed that map. And let me explain something to you about that map. Those red lines are indications, and the very last handshake between the satellite and the aircraft that was conducted, those -- they could be searching at 8:10 a.m. The plane along any of those lines. Virtually, anywhere along the red areas of the line. That's where the plane could be. So it's huge. It's 4,000 miles long. It's in southern China. It's up to the border of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, it's from northern Thailand way down deep into the Indian Ocean.

So, huge search area. A lot of work to be done. A lot of radar records to be retrieved. The Malaysian prime minister also said he was going to call in governments that may be affected by this to cooperate in the search. One of the problems is, in the past seven days, we haven't had any report of a huge airliner being landed across any of that area. In the land area, that we're talking about right now.

BLACKWELL: Jim Clancy there for us in Kuala Lumpur. And guys, if we could put that map back up, a lot of people are waking up this morning to a new map. Not one they saw last night. I want to kind of give you an idea what we are looking at here. There are two red quadrants here. You see those lines. And because of the last ping, this handshake, that Jim was talking about. This is now where officials believe where they got that last ping from the satellites there. And you see that in the northern, the northeastern quadrant here. You see it starts in northern Thailand and goes all the way to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan area there. The other here starts in the area of Indonesia, this is the southeastern area, and it goes all the way to the south Indian Ocean, just off the western coast of Australia. So, this area has expanded in some way, but they're now focusing on those two areas. We'll talk more about that in our program.

PAUL: And the investigation, too. 14 countries, 43 ships, 58 aircraft involved in the search. And now that we have this expanded area, you have to think that perhaps even more will be joining it at this point.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. So, of course, coming up on "NEW DAY" who was inside the cockpit now that this investigation has turned to the passengers and crew during the last moments of Flight 370.

PAUL: We're talking to a former pilot next about why knowing who was on board could be critical to solve one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history now.


BLACKWELL: Well, this morning, officials are taking a closer look at who was on that vanished Flight 370, the Malaysian prime minister says whatever happened inside the cockpit before the flight disappeared was a deliberate act. So let's bring in former pilot and aviation consultant, Alastair Rosenschein from London. It's good to have you with us this morning. I want to start with -- the new radar and this new map that we have that shows that the last electronic handshake, we're calling it, was seven hours after the last point of contact. So, we know that this had been what's - more than an hour into the flight on the way point we expected that that path that was created from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Was there enough fuel for this 777 to continue for another seven hours after it was already in route to Beijing?

ALASTAIR ROSENSCHEIN: Well, seven hours would probably be the absolute limit. One knows one needs enough fuel to reach Beijing. And then there will be fuel for diversion and a little bit more for reserve. So, it's possibly an extra hour on top of that. So, that would well - the limit of the range of the aircraft. It's not totally implausible that it went for seven hours. I mean I calculated possibly five hours.

BLACKWELL: I want to keep up this map, Alastair, and I don't know if you could see it, but it's the map and the arc that was discussed by the Malaysian prime minister. We see this northern red line from northern Thailand, into Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and then the southern area from Indonesia into the South Indian Ocean. How is it possible to say it's either here or there, with these two areas so far apart?

ROSENSCHEIN: Well, I mean, an aircraft can fly in any direction, so, there's no reason why they shouldn't assume it could have gone from the southwest right up to the northwest. I mean, it had enough fuel to go as far as Pakistan, Australia, could have gone to India, almost to Madagascar. So, it's a very large area. I mean my initial thought was that it was some sort of piloting to (INAUDIBLE). The aircraft blew on auto pilot after they turned the aircraft back -- towards Kuala Lumpur and that would have put them somewhere over the Indian Ocean. And that's still a possibility. But this recent information this morning, is that there have been some - what seems to be plausible and deliberate acts by someone on the flight deck to actually come on this aircraft and to switch off the various pieces of equipment, all of which anybody in the know, and it would have to be somebody in the know, could have done. It's not something which an untrained person could have done. BLACKWELL: So what would be the difficulty, in turning off, not just the transponders, our Martin Savidge showed us that's just a flick of a switch. But some of the other mechanisms inside this cockpit that could have offered, if possibly, there were pings that were -- they could have been tracked after it was tracked there on those two parts of that perimeter?

ROSENSCHEIN: Well, there are certain passive pieces of equipment of which the flight crew do not have access to. These will be pieces of equipment which sends information on aircraft systems back. And, you know, in principle, if you really knew what you were doing, you could probably disable this equipment. But it is unlikely that untrained personnel, and I'm talking about people other than flight engineers, ground engineers, they would know how to do this sort of thing. Pilots have a certain knowledge of it. As the hijack goes, I really can't say how sophisticated they are. I mean we know that 9/11, the degree of sophistication, by hijackers have increased enormously. That the pilots have been trained to fly in crews basically and use the aircraft as a missile, as they have done in this case. You know, a trained pilot could have done this action as has been suggested by the minister of Malaysia today.

BLACKWELL: I want to ask you about the northern corridor here. This plane indeed instead of heading south towards Indonesia and the south Indian Ocean went in the direction of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan here. It would have flown over some pretty large military installations. Would these areas -- would these military bases and the installations not have picked this up on radar?

ROSENSCHEIN: It's inconceivable that an aircraft could have flown there without being picked up on the radar, especially military radar. I mean, you know, the Americans -- you have some Stealth aircraft. The Boeing 777 isn't a Stealth aircraft. It produces a huge radar ping. And it is inconceivable that it could have flown over there without being noticed.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alastair Rosenschein, a former pilot and aviation consultant joining us from London. Thank you so much.


PAUL: You know, adding to the mystery of Flight 370, the reported dramatic drops in altitude. Still ahead, CNN goes inside the 777 simulator. To see exactly what would happen when a jet that size suddenly plunges tens of thousands of feet.


Now, we know the missing Malaysia Airline flight made extreme changes in altitude. Climbing at 45,000 feet, and then dropping to 23,000 feet.

PAUL: You think is that even possible without the whole thing going down? CNN's Martin Savidge demonstrates what that would look like from inside a 777 simulator. Hey, Martin. MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, good morning. What we are doing here, is basically, we've been taking all these different scenarios we've heard about possibly from Flight 370. And working them through the simulator. The beauty of a simulator was you can try anything, but, of course, you're not going to get hurt because you're really not up in the air. But it's as close to being in the air and doing it for real. As you are going to find and still be safe. So, the first thing we are doing -- is now with this 777 is flying at 45,000 feet. That's way above where this airplane was designed to fly. It's extremely difficult to fly. Mitchell Casado is the pilot now. He's in manual. What's it like to try to keep it under control?

MITCHELL CASADO: It's extremely difficult.

SAVIDGE: You're talking about a plane here that's tittering between two extremes: one is, we're nearly going too fast. But at the same time, we are almost nearly going too slow.


SAVIDGE: Either one of those would be disastrous. Let's show you what else has been talked about, which is this dramatic descent. Something like 40,000 feet in a minute. It's not possible. Let's push this plane over the edge, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what happens as far as the control.

OK. So these are the first alarms that are starting to go off. What are they telling us, Mitchell?

CASADO: They're telling us that we're dropping at over 20,000 feet per minute. We're accelerating almost to a thousand miles per hour. So the plane would be falling apart at this point.

SAVIDGE: Yeah, this is really not physically possible. That is right. Pieces of the plane would literally be ripping off. We're going so fast. The fact that after that, reportedly, the plane then somehow levels off, that's what's really hard to be believed and then to try to even contemplate what's going on back in the passenger section. The G-forces, the extreme sensations they'd have, it could almost be lethal for the passengers back there.

And then we start talking about other factors, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that they believe there could have been two conspirators here. One, who was flying the aircraft. While another person actually went down into an electronics bay, that's one deck below and begins to systematically dismantle communications devices. Now, that's where you would have to do it, if you were going to dismantle them. But it doesn't necessarily mean you have got two people. You could, Mitchell -- you what --

CASADO: You could. You could have one guy up here just monitoring the autopilot. Or just put the autopilot on and go down in the bay and do what he needs to do down there. The plane is on autopilot and come back up and when he's ready, to take it off. SAVIDGE: So, it doesn't necessarily mean it had to be two people. It could be two people. Lastly, let's talk about the transponder. Because so much has been made about that. And that was a real indicator that was a sign of a problem. The transponder is right here. And apparently, somehow it was either disabled or turned off. How do you do that? As simple as turning these three steps to the left, one, two, three, it's off. We're still on radar, but nobody knows who we are anymore. We're essentially blind blind. You would never do that. But apparently somehow on this flight, it did happen. None of this really tells us where the plane is now, what the fate of crew and passengers. It really just only adds to the mystery. Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Martin Savidge. Thank you so much. We have some breaking news for you now about the pilot's home. We've been wondering, are they going to go inside that home?


PAUL: We're eight days out now.

BLACKWELL: And CNN has witnessed there on the ground that officials have gone into the home of the captain, the pilot 53-year-old Zaharia Ahmad Shah. A large contingent of police arrived at the private compound of the homes where the pilot of this missing Flight 370 lived in Kuala Lumpur. CNN again just witnessed these officials going into his home. There have been guards, officials, outside of the home for several days. Reuters reported earlier this morning that the investigation into them would began. Well, CNN has now witnessed a van full of police arriving in an unmarked van, of course, and spent two hours in this gated community, a short time after the prime minister made his remarks that the 370 is now -- the crew and the passengers are going to be looked at more closely.

And now, they've gone inside this home. Of course, we'll get more on this. As we learn more about what's happening there on that investigation. And that angle of this multifaceted investigation. But, of course, this morning we're going to have more on all the different angles of this search for Flight 370.

PAUL: Yeah, investigators, of course, refocusing their search after -- on those two new flight's paths as well as the crew and the passengers.

We're going to talk to an ocean specialist next, regarding the challenges of searching for clues in that deep sea.


PAUL: So glad to have your company here on this Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. And today there have been major developments in the missing flight 370 overnight with the half hour here. We're going to start with all the things that have developed overnight. Starting with this, the Malaysian prime minister confirmed that the Boeing 777 deviated from its flight plan because of, and this is a quote, "deliberate action by someone on the plane. Now, the prime minister stopped just short of calling it a hijacking. But a government source tells the Associated Press that is exactly what happened here.

PAUL: Also, I want to let you know we learned that the search area is now focused on two corridors. Two different corridors than we've seen up to this point. And look at this map. You see those - that red area? That arch? That's where they're looking. It extends as far north as Kazakhstan, and the other as far south as the southern Indian Ocean. And that new search area really is angering Chinese officials. They're demanding that Malaysia provide more specific information than at this point. And China's foreign minister said the country is sending its own technical experts now to assist in the investigation. So, the question is, is the radar information key to solving the mystery of Flight 370?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, joining us now to discuss is ocean search specialist Rob McCallum. Rob, it's good to have you with us.

ROB MCCALLUM: Thank you. Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Authorities seemed to have more narrowed the focus this morning. And you've led the search to find the wreckage of Air France Flight 447. Tell us, how does this start? Because I've read that you see this as a starting point without a starting point?

MCCALLUM: Well, it's tricky. I mean, you know, a starting point at the moment is defined by which ocean or which body of water it might be in. We're still talking in very broad scale terms.

PAUL: Right. I mean we're talking about as far north as we said of Kazakhstan, if we can pull that map up again, so people can really get a good vision of how much land and sea we are talking about. As far north as Kazakhstan. As far south as the southern Indian Ocean. What is the ocean atmosphere there in that region? I mean, what kind of challenges are your search teams facing?

MCCALLUM: Well, it's - with any search, we're sort of -- any search box needs a starting point, and once we have a starting point, we like to know an area of probability, you know, how broad is the area that we need to search. Because if you end up with a search box, you know, do you start in the middle and work your way out? Or start on the outer boundaries and work your way in? I mean it - so many factors go into working out the probabilities of where the staff and actually have around the search.

PAUL: OK, but when you look at the Indian Ocean specifically, and Bay of Bengal -- what do you -- well, I guess Bay of Bengal is still in there, but what about that atmosphere in the ocean there may help or hinder you in that specific part of the world?

MCCALLUM: Well, what you've seen in the last few days with the emphasis and search area shifting out to the west is that you're now entering into very, very deep water. Down to four, five, six, even 7,000 meters. So, very, very deep water. From our point of view, not a complex search area in the sense that the bottom, the sea floor world is not a complex mosaic. It's generally pretty flat. Which, for our purposes, using sonar to find wreckage is quite good.

BLACKWELL: You know, Rob, this is when you go to the supermarket, you go to the barber shop, all that anybody is talking about. And the first question I get is, nothing has come to the surface yet, not a seat, not a suitcase. And since we haven't seen any debris, do you think that would leave the investigators to maybe search that northern area, which is overland, or is it still possible that everything inside that plane is somewhere at the bottom of the ocean?

MCCALLUM: It's entirely possible that the aircraft has come down in the ocean. And we have not located any wreckage here because we've been looking in the wrong place. If it was out into the middle of the Bay of Bengal, then there's much lighter traffic there. Marine traffic, than there is out further to the east where they've been looking. So it's entirely possible, with shift in focus. The shift in direction that we might now start finding wreckage. And that will be our first indication of where to start.

PAUL: You know, we talk about how to go about this search, in this part of the area, but what about the people who are in charge of this search? I mean, now, this morning, as we said, we're learning that China's demanding more comprehensive and accurate information from Malaysia. They are sending their tech people there. How difficult is a search mission like this when you have so many hands involved?

MCCALLUM: Very difficult. And it's going to take some time to unravel it all. And like any good mystery, the clues will come one by one. But for our purposes, for more pragmatic purposes of where to conduct an underwater search, we do need to define a start point. Because once you're searching in very deep water, in this case, down to perhaps 20,000, 25,000 feet, you know, obviously search efforts are quite slow. Pulling a sonar unit through the water at those depths, so then the tighter you can get the search area the better.

BLACKWELL: So, Rob, 24, 36 hours ago, the big headline was from Chinese researchers that they had this seafloor event about 90 minutes after the last point of contact for 370. And now, of course, we move beyond that because we're looking at these two specific areas, one in over land. One in the south Indian Ocean. Could another seafloor event now in the southern portion of this area, the southern corridor, could that be a starting point? Or do those even matter, considering all the possible earthquakes and shifts that happen on any given day on the water?

MCCALLUM: You know, this is such an incredible thirst for information. This is such a desperate need to find out what happened. And all sorts off theories being explored. And as each new one comes to hand, people want to follow it to take it to its logical conclusion. But if you look at the overall trend of the information, little by little, the pattern is shifting out towards the West. And if the aircraft is out on that deep water, then certainly, there are assets that can be used to find it.

PAUL: Already. BLACKWELL: Ocean search specialist, Rob McCallum, thank you for helping us. I understand this. I think a lot of people understand what a search over land is, once you get to the depths of these oceans and these bodies of water, a lot of people are lost in it. It's good that you could be with us to kind of sort this out.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

BLACKWELL: You know, the fate of the hundreds of passengers on board the missing Malaysia airliner, of course, that remains a mystery this morning.

PAUL: Prayers and well wishes, though, they are just pouring in to help support these families as we learn that more about some of the men and women on that flight is being investigated.

Coming up, we have an intimate (INAUDIBLE)


PAUL: So grateful to have you with us for CNN's continuing coverage of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370. And one of the things that I think a lot of us think about when we watch this, is just the anguish, the despair we've seen from these family members. So you just cannot imagine what they are going through as they try to just get any word on what happened to the people that they loved who were on that --

BLACKWELL: And the information that changes hour by hour. If you think at one point, it's a crash, then a hijacking, well, are these people somewhere alive? And now, of course, we're getting a more personal portrait of some of those people. Some of the passengers on 370. CNN's Nick Valencia is here with a look at who they are. Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Victor and Christi. When you hear that number 239 people on board. It's really difficult to give meaning to those numbers. Unless you understand the individuals who are on that plane. As Victor and Christie were saying, we want to give you a portrait of those passengers.

And we'll start with this man here, Paul Weeks. He was on his way to his dream job, it was a mining job in Mongolia. He was originally from New Zealand, but he'd been living in Australia. He was no stranger to devastation. His family and he lived through the 2010 Christchurch earthquake. And his wife said, he was telling local affiliate guars, before he got on the plane, whether his premonition, or whatever it was, he gave her his wedding ring and his watch just in case something happened to them. He has two young boys. She's very hopeful for his safe return.

This is another couple who we know and we can confirm was on that plane. This is Bai Xiaomo on the right there and Muktesh Mukherjee. They are Canadians, originally from Montreal, Canada. But they had been calling Beijing China home. He was the vice president for an energy and resources company in Beijing. They have also two young children who they left with their grandparents while they were going on vacation in Vietnam. His boss caught up with one of our local affiliates who said he was just a great colleague and a great friend. You're looking at more pictures of this beautiful couple. His friends and family hoping for their safe return.

Another person we want to talk to you about is somebody who, originally a Malaysian national, but had called Pennsylvania home. Working in a chemical processing plant to make rubber materials, Ch'ng Mei Ling. You're looking here at the bottom right here. She - a young woman described as by her friends as having an infectious laugh, and a very good sense of humor. She had been living in Pennsylvania since about 2010. And she was on her way back to the United States when she got on that flight.

Phil Wood here, this man right here, the United States, Oklahoma City resident. God-centered man. Friends and family also are hoping for his safe return. So, we hope that that gives you a meaning -- just a little bit more meaning behind that 239 passengers, all with very unique and individual stories. Victor, Christie.

BLACKWELL: And we're hearing some of the heartfelt prayers and wishes on social media and videos as well. Nick Valencia, thank you.

PAUL: Following another big story for you today, by the way. In just hours, Crimea is going to vote on whether to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Now, that strained relations between Washington and Moscow. So, we're going to break it down. What does this mean? We'll take a closer look ahead. But first --

Sex trafficking is big business in the U.S. One study funded by the Justice Department found it generates nearly 300 million a year in Atlanta alone. But this week's CNN hero was lured into that world at 18. But now, she's helping other people escape through her nonprofit "Breaking Free." Please meet Vednita Carter.


VEDNITA CARTER: Prostitution has been known as the oldest profession. I know that it's the oldest oppression. I was able to get out, but the majority of women, they're trapped. That's why I do this work.

A lot of the ladies are really (INAUDIBLE) right now.

We're a survivor-led program. Many of the women that work here have been there.

(on camera): My last trick was turned behind that store front.

How are you doing, my sister? Do you need some condoms or anything? All right, baby, you know where we're at.

(voice over): When they are ready, they can come here.

(on camera): So you were referred by a friend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. CARTER (voice over): Yes. We have many different services. Another corps peace was our supports group. We have to learn how to live with it. And forgive ourselves. And we're feeling for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm working full time now. I'm almost done with probation.

CARTER: Their lives start to change. And we're educating men who have been arrested for soliciting women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not here to make you feel like a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED). But that's somebody's daughter.

CARTER: We're really raising an army here, and this is the battle. It's not OK. Buy and sell us. We're not for sell.


BLACKWELL: 12 minutes till the top of the hour. And, of course, we'll have much more coverage on the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in a moment. But first, we want to get you the latest going in Ukraine because voters in the Crimea Peninsula will decide Sunday whether to rejoin Russia.

PAUL: Yeah, the vote looks set to go ahead, despite warnings to Moscow from the U.S., and the European Union, that Russia is going to face severe consequences if it tries to annex Crimea. CNN's analyst and Russian journalist Vladimir Posner joining us now from Moscow. Vladimir, thank you for being with us. We know Crimea's voters are going to be asked if they're going to support the reunification of Crimea with Russia. Do you have any indication as to what the majority may say here?

VLADIMIR POSNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think logically, probably, the majority will say that, yes, they do. After all, 60 percent of the population of Crimea are ethnic Russians. And so, they probably want to be part of Russia. Now, 24 percent are ethnic Tatars. It's a pretty large group. And I know that the leader of the Tatar minority called President Putin a couple of days ago on the phone and begged him, literally, not to take Crimea into Russia.

Showing that it would be a very bad thing. And President Putin answered, well, let's wait until the referendum is over. What that means is anyone's guess. I know that the local government of Crimea has invited the Kiev government to come send observers to make sure that that referendum is fair and honest. Kiev has said they're not going to send anyone, because it's not a legitimate referendum. And if they send people, then it's going to become legitimate. So, they're not sending them, obviously. They'll say, well, this was a referendum conducted under the guns of Russian troops. It's like there's no winner here. It's a no-no for everybody.

And the only people I think who can clearly solve this, or the only countries that can solve it, are the United States and Russia. They have to find common ground. After a six-hour discussion between the Soviet -- the Russian, excuse me, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lavrov, and the Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, the outcome was, well, there was a constructive discussion, but they still have not found common ground, which makes me kind of pessimistic about the outcome.

BLACKWELL: So, Vladimir, during this meeting between President Obama and Ukrainian interim prime minister, the president said, President Obama said, I'm going to quote here, that "Russia will be forced -- or the U.S. will be forced to apply a cost to Russia's violations of international law. We pretty much know what Mr. Putin thinks about those words, but on the peninsula, there in Crimea, how do they view the U.S.'s role here and the strength behind those words?

POSNER: You know, that's hard to say. But the feeling I get is, that they don't really pay much attention to it. Again, those who are absolutely decided that they want to be part of Russia, they don't care what President Obama says. There's no fear, people don't think there's going to be a war over this, and they won't, definitely. Lavrov, the other day, said that Russia has no intention whatsoever of using military force in southeastern Ukraine.

So, and the feeling is, all right, so what are these sanctions going to be? I was talking to a taxi driver here in Moscow, and he said to me, but for us, just regular, normal people, what do those sanctions going to mean? And I said well, I don't know really, not much, perhaps, but the ruble is going to fall even more, and so life will be a little bit more expensive for you. But otherwise, I mean they're not going to take away Visa from just a regular guy who hasn't done anything. So, the feeling is, all right, so, they're going to threaten -- we are going to threaten them right back and we're going to go back to Cold War mentality, which is something most people are pretty much used to, except the younger generation, and for them, it's going to be really difficult.

PAUL: All right. Vladimir Posner, thank you so much for your insight. We appreciate you taking time for us today.

POSNER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The breaking news overnight: the evidence of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the prime minister saying that it points specifically to a deliberate act.

PAUL: That's the word today from Malaysian officials. So we're going to bring you up to speed on these latest developments overnight. Stay close.


PAUL: Oh, my goodness, it is the mystery that we cannot take our eyes off of. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And here's what we know. A lot has happened overnight. Two passengers boarded the plane using stolen passports. That, we know. Authorities now say it's unlikely that those men are linked to terrorist groups. But the fact remains they boarded a plane using someone else's passport, and obviously, that raises some major security concerns as a whole.

BLACKWELL: Especially --

PAUL: In the broad --

BLACKWELL: Since the prime minister has now shifted this to a deliberate act by someone and not a technical or mechanical problem. Here's CNN's Zain Asher with a look at the scope of the passport black markets specifically. How they are made and what the U.S. government is doing to combat it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can take weeks to make it possible -- it can take a few hours, depending on the quality of passport and the forgers actually making.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony Seles (ph) spent 15 years forging passports in the U.K. before he was sent to prison in 2009.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By just gently picking the edge of the passport and now you can start to peel the passport back.

ASHER: Here he is, changing the name on this passport to mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything can be faked. Someone actually made this passport. That means it can be repeated again. You can see how close through to the picture we actually are here.

ASHER: According to Interpol, approximately 40 million passports have been reported stolen since 2002. Some of them sold illegally to people who look similar enough to the original bearer.

GIDEON EPSTEIN: Even if you look a little bit like that person, that's going to be good enough.

ASHER: Others end up in the hands of counterfeiters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a huge black market for stolen passports. It's absolutely huge. You know, probably on a daily basis, an average fraud star buys five or six.

ASHER: But forensic document examiner Gideon Epstein said a counterfeit passport is more likely to raise red flags in airport security than a stolen one because many countries have implemented passport security features to prevent alteration. For example, the first page of the U.S. passport contains an image of an eagle with 13 arrows while a fake passport might have just 11 or 12. And watch as the letters as the USA change color under ultraviolet light.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are working to introduce a next generation passport that will even have additional forensic features, but no matter how good you are, someone is always going to be trying to beat the system.

ASHER: Especial when it comes to theft. Not every country regularly checks Interpol's database to see if the passport is stolen. Two men on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were allowed to board with passports that had been reported stolen in 2012 and 2013. One solution, passports like this, that contain a microchip and biographical data designed to prevent them from being used by the wrong person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The border security officials all over the world can read that data and validate that you are who you say you are.

ASHER: But many countries, particularly in the developing world, are still behind on implementing them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen a lot of, you know, the new electronic passports come in that have made definitely forging a passport much more difficult. But, of course, every system has its weaknesses. Zain Asher, CNN, Washington.