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Demonstrators Storm Navy Headquarters; Talk of Expelling Russia; Families Hoping for a Miracle; Search Focused on Southern Indian Ocean

Aired March 19, 2014 - 08:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. Time now for the five things you need to know for your new day.

Number one, investigators looking to retrieve data they say was deleted from the flight simulator belong to the pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And a source now says the plane was likely headed south.

Pro-Russian forces now in control of Ukraine's naval headquarters in Sevastopol in Crimea. They stormed the facility overnight without a shot being fired. They raised the Russian flag.

And after a day of graphic, bloody testimony, court adjourns in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial until Monday. The judge granting the prosecution's request to consult with its remaining witnesses through the weekend.

First Lady Michelle Obama heads out on a week-long trip to China today. The visit will focus on broadening ties between the U.S. and China. Mrs. Obama is scheduled to visit several schools and talk about the importance of education.

And two winning (INAUDIBLE) in last night's $400 million Mega Millions drawing. One in Merritt Island, Florida, the other in Charles County, Maryland. The numbers drawn were 11, 19, 24, 33, 51 and the mega ball, 7. If you are holding a ticket with those numbers, run to your nearest location.

We're always updating the five things you need to know, so go to for the very latest.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh. No, I didn't win it.

Before we return to Flight 370, I want to bring you into the latest on Crimea. As John just reported, just hours after Russian President Putin annexed the region, pro-Russian demonstrators stormed Ukraine's naval headquarters in Sevastopol. Now that's after gunmen killed a Ukrainian soldier at another base in Crimea, leading the government to authorize its troops to fire in self-defense. We have reports from Crimea and Washington. Let's start with Nick Paton Walsh live in Crimea. Nick, what's the latest?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing that the Ukrainian naval chief, Sergey Gaiduk, who was at that base in Sevastopol stormed by hundreds of pro-Russian protesters, some of them reportedly armed, he's gone missing according to the Ukrainian defense ministry.

And that's, obviously, raising some concerns here. It seems that base has changed hands more or less peacefully despite the aggressive assault initially against it. No blood loss there. And pictures of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers leaving the base, the Russia flag flying above it.

But tensions are really high after yesterday's first death of a Ukrainian service member in the Russian takeover of the Crimean peninsula at a base where I'm standing here in Simferopol. And we're hearing reports really across the peninsula, a pattern seeming to emerge. Pro Russian protesters, often backed with the armed force of those uniformed men who obviously a Russian troop then admit themselves to be the case, going to bases, pressuring people.

One we were at in the northwest of the peninsula, a tractor smashing open its gates, protesters staying at the entrance. The Russian flag hoisted above that building as well we understand. So a real concern that despite Ukrainian soldiers seemingly leaving peacefully, the tension dissipating, something could go wrong and we could see further bloodshed. People really concerned about that.


CUOMO: You say Ukraine soldiers are leaving peacefully. Even though this vote was seen as the end, it is probably just the beginning in terms of playing out this process.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.

Now Vice President Joe Biden is in Ukraine's backyard visiting today with leaders of Lithuania and Latvia. He's trying to reassure them that the U.S. would respond to any aggression by Russia against NATO allies. Remember, that's the purpose of NATO. So that is the commitment that has to be in place.

Meantime, Britain's prime minister is raising the possibility of expelling Russia from the G-8. For that part of the story, let's pick it up with CNN's Michelle Kosinski. At the White House with details.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And we've seen the steps leading up to that. I mean initially when this started, really the first action that was taken by western allies was to cancel those preliminary meetings leading to the G-8, but still keeping the door open for discussion and action that really never happened on Russia's part. So it's been asked intensively over the last couple of days, what does this mean if no one's participating in these meetings leading up to the G-8, does that mean definitively it's not going to happen because Russia, of course, is hosting it in June? But the White House won't really respond directly to that. Again, it seems like there's still that window open that things could change if Russia adjusts its course.

But the White House did say yesterday, well, you know what, a G-8 isn't going to happen if preliminary meetings aren't going to happen. Those are necessary. And we know that those meetings are not going to happen. But they have not said for certain yet that the G-8 is out of question.

Of course, Cameron and Britain is taking it a step further saying that Russia should be expelled from the G-8 or at least discussions to that effect should take place and the G-7 nations will meet next week -- again, that excludes Russia - to talk about actions moving forward, Chris.

CUOMO: Complicated to see what the leverage is to make Russia do anything at this point, Michelle. You know, we obviously remember President Clinton offered the G-8 membership to Russia as somewhat of a kind of a theory of goodwill. Now that's being taken away. The question is, does Russia care?

Michelle Kosinski, thank you very much.

We're coming back after a quick break here on NEW DAY. We're going to be talk about the family members of those 239 souls on board Flight 370. They are growing more desperate by the hour. It's understandable. The information is slow and often confusing. We're going to show you what happened at a news conference when things literally just boiled over and many family members saying they will take extreme measures to get answers. We'll take you through it.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of those women protesting today just saying, "I want my son back. I just want my son back soon."

Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. I'm, of course, coming to you live from Kuala Lumpur. That heartbreaking scene took place moments before Malaysia Airline officials were about to start their daily press briefing.

The mother of one of the passengers on that missing jetliner tried to enter the room, really kind of addressed the media because she wants attention to this, saying, accusing Malaysian officials of hiding the truth. She was escorted out. Family members of the 239 people on board, as you can see here, growing more frantic by the hour for answers.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): As each day passes, the search widens and the clock ticks but conflicting information remains, while frustrations are boiling over. In Kuala Lumpur, hundreds gather to show support for all of the families of the missing. Each with their own story, but all stuck somewhere between anger and grief, grasping to a faint possibility their loved ones are still alive.

Sarah Bajc, partner of missing American Phillip Wood, told CNN's Anderson Cooper she will never lose faith they'll one day be reunited.

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF MISSING AMERICAN: Miracles do happen. They happen every day. I have intuition and I have a feeling that they're still alive.

BOLDUAN: She, she like many others, believe the plane may have been hijacked and offers this emotional plea.

BAJC: I'm hoping and I'm asking, please, to not hurt the people on the plane. You know, find some other way to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish, but don't hurt the people. Let - let Phillip come back to me, please.

BOLDUAN: A prayer echoed by Maira Elizabeth Nari, the daughter of the chief steward on the flight, Andrew Nari, begging for her father's return on Twitter. "Come home so you can watch the game," she writes. "You never miss watching the game. It's your very first time."

This man also waits for news about his brother, but says the delay is torture and he fears hope is slipping away.


BOLDUAN: We continue to follow their stories and continue bringing developments as the search continues.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the search for Flight 370 now has multiple nations converging on the waters of the southern Indian Ocean. A vast area. They're trying to narrow that search. More on that coming up.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We're following the disappearance of Flight 370. American officials believe the jet headed south after controllers lost contact with it -- that's the freshest information. Australian officials and Australia is in control of the search in the Indian Ocean. They are focusing on the waters southwest of Perth as other nations are heading for the southern Indian Ocean.

How do you find something so small compared to the waters that are so widespread. Here to offer her expertise is retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Loewer joining us live from Washington this morning. It's very good to have you with us.

We keep making analogies to how much space, how much has to be covered, how small this relatively is what we're looking for. So what is the strategy, what are the tactics involved in taking on such a tall task?

REAR ADM. DEBORAH LOEWER, US NAVY (RET.): Well, Chris, this is a very difficult challenge for any nation that would pursue this task. First of all you have to consider the water column, the depth of the water, the surface -- the bottom surface whether it's a rough surface whether it's a smooth surface. There's so many factors involved in this. And that's why it's incredibly important to narrow down the area of the search.

CUOMO: Now when the USS Kidd got pulled off of this there was a concern expressed and U.S. sources told us no, no, we have the P8s, they are great this. We're great at surveilling from the sky. What are P8s? And why are we so good at it in the United States. What do they do?

LOEWER: Well, the P8 is the newer version of the P3 Orion Long Distance Surveillance Aircraft. And it can do what we're calling in- stride aerial sweep of a large square mile area. So it really can surveil the surface of the water at a very high-speed and give us a determination rather quickly. Again, we have to couch that in a very careful way, "quickly" is a relative term whether or not there's debris on the surface of the water. That doesn't tell us anything about what's below the water's surface.

CUOMO: Below the water surface -- and you raised that early here in the conversation about something that's relevant that we're not talking about as often. The water column, the depth -- how big a factor is depth here given that we're dealing with something that's obviously heavy and wouldn't float for long?

LOEWER: Actually that's a very critical element. The depth of the water in this area, I know that you've had other experts comment on this previously, but you're looking at 10,000 -- 11,000 feet of depth. So to find anything that's a static item, a piece of metal, an aircraft seat on the bottom at that depth is extremely challenging and you would need to use remote vehicles to do that type of search.

CUOMO: And, what kind of assets will be involved? We're talking about these P8s, the planes. We've heard about sonic buoys being used in different watercraft. What are the different tools?

LOEWER: The P8 aircraft again is specifically a high volume surface search aircraft. So it's only going to be able to tell you what you can see on the surface. A sonic buoy collects sound information in the water column. That sonic buoy is only effective when you have an object that's moving through the water column. So the aircraft and parts of an aircraft which were dispersed are not moving through the water column they will obviously drift to the bottom.

So the real search is going to be to look for things on the bottom of the ocean floor. And that would have to be done with remote vehicle assets that would be tethered from a surface ship, tethered to a remote vehicle that would scour the bottom of the ocean.

CUOMO: Now for all these different variables the urgency from the beginning has been time a concern especially on the U.S. side was boy the longer they wait the bigger the area gets, you know, the deeper everything is. That's what the biggest concern in terms of finding it.

At this point 12 days in is there any kind of relevant time frame that you have to fit in? We know the black box lasts 30 days and then it will stop transmitting sounds -- so that's relevant. How else does time factor in?

LOEWER: Well quite frankly time is our enemy here as the -- you do have ocean currents that have been discussed and debris even though it might be sitting on the ocean floor will be affected by ocean currents and the debris field will move around a bit again depending upon the composition of the bottom of the ocean floor at the spot of the wreckage.

So, time is a factor. But the more data -- as time goes by the more data we can gather that would indicate a more precise search area, time would be -- that time would be very beneficial.

CUOMO: To be realistic about this are we still dealing with when as opposed to if, debris is found assuming the plane did hit the water, assuming that it is able to be discovered? How are we doing in terms of when versus if?

LOEWER: This is an extreme challenge. I would lean more towards the if we find debris can we find enough debris to really ascertain precisely where the airplane wreckage is if it's on the bottom of the ocean. So it really in my mind is an if situation. This is like hunting for a needle in a haystack or a needle in a group of haystacks. It's a very serious challenge for us.

CUOMO: That's what we keep hearing is that they would welcome the challenge of finding a needle in a haystack as compared to what they're dealing with here. Rear Admiral Deborah Loewer, thank you very much for the perspective.

Tough news to hear but better to be accurate than to have hopes where they don't belong at this particular point. Thank you very much. Mickey.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: All right Chris. Ahead on NEW DAY -- pardon me -- we've got an amazing story for you out of southern California. You know, moving is usually a huge hassle -- right. Well, this move ended up being a life saver. We'll explain it in "The Good Stuff" coming up.


CUOMO: Time for "The Good Stuff". You know what people say to me? They say "Chris we love the good stuff but we like the double stuff even better." And I say the cookie? They say no, the double dose of good stuff. And I say, you know what -- that's exactly what we have for you today.

In fact, we're going to start with one and we're going to go into another one. PEREIRA: OK.

CUOMO: Here's the first one, moving. Moving not so good, right? But for a young couple moving out of their Burbank apartment -- moving made them heroes. Here's how. Konrad and Jennifer Lightner, that's who we're talking about. They are lugging mattresses. They spot a toddler dangling from a second floor window. They only have seconds.

What did they do? Well, they threw down their mattresses -- that's what they did. The baby fell. Konrad caught him. They both fell back to the mattress. The day was saved.


JENNIFER LIGHTNER, SAVED TODDLER: It didn't seem real until he was kind of hanging from that cord because, you know, there's no way he's going to get back in the window. It's kind of now up to Konrad to catch him and he did a great job.

KONRAD LIGHTNER, SAVED TODDLER: It feels like I watched a TV show, like it didn't happen to me. And then right after that we actually had to move.


CUOMO: Moving is so bad that you think about it even after saving a child's life. There they are starting up at where he caught -- amazing to make the catch, using the mattress to fall back on, cushion the blow -- huge.

It wasn't the only thing that happened to the Lightners that day. Before they saved the baby they got stuck in a storage space elevator for 20 minutes. Yes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Did they have the mattress with them? That would have been --


CUOMO: They say had that not happened, had they not been stuck they would not have been there to catch the baby.

PEREIRA: That speaks to intervention of something. That everything is purposeful.

CUOMO: That's exactly it. Everything is related.

PEREIRA: Nothing is by accident.

CUOMO: Il Destino.

PEREIRA: When you think about the fact they were just happened to be walking by with a mattress when a baby is dangling. What are the chances of that?

CUOMO: So the next time you're stuck in an elevator say, you know what --

PEREIRA: There's a reason for that.

CUOMO: There's a reason I'm stuck here right now.

PEREIRA: There's a reason for that.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No matter how miserable their day was (inaudible) that is one for the record books now. They were very happy.

PEREIRA: You want to get that double dose?

CUOMO: All right. There's your first dose. How about a little double stuff?


CUOMO: That was my favorite though. Here we go.

All right. 22-year-old Mindy Tran from Massachusetts had her two kids buckled in the back seat of her car when she got out to lock the front door of her house. Just as she got out of the car, the car starts to roll down the driveway. That's when Tran's motherly instincts kick in. She uses her body as a speed bump to slow the car.



MINDY TRAN, USED BODY AS SPEED BUMP: My daughters are my everything. They're my everything and I don't want to see my daughters in the hospital and I knew at that time it was either mine or theirs.


PEREIRA: Oh my goodness.

CUOMO: Mother's love nothing more powerful than that. I said slow the car not stop it because the car wound up crushing her knee, dislocating her hip. Although she says she has a long road to recovery she vows she will walk again. Her kids need her there. And she did everything she could. A mother's sacrifice.

PEREIRA: A mother's love could have lifted that vehicle.

CUOMO: Right.

PEREIRA: It's amazing.

BERMAN: Lay down in front -- true story. Jerry Berman, the father of John Berman, once crawled in the sun roof of a car as I was rolling away down a driveway to stop the car.

PETERSONS: Did you lock yourself in there? What did you do? BERMAN: I had locked myself in the car. And I put the car in neutral and starting rolling down the driveway. My father crawled in the sun roof and stopped it.

PEREIRA: Daddy Berman.

CUOMO: Ignored fact, John Berman 19 at the time.

BERMAN: It was last year.

PETERSONS: Next question.

CUOMO: Nice (inaudible) at the time. What is wrong with you? You're a strange man.

PEREIRA: Fantastic.

CUOMO: That's it for us here on NEW DAY. Kate is going to continue to report from Malaysia tomorrow so be here with us for that.

And now it is time for the "NEWSROOM", Ms. Carol Costello.

John Berman, 19 years of age his father had to save him from a car.

PETERSONS: What are you going to do with him?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't even know what to say to that.

CUOMO: Nobody does. Nobody does.

COSTELLO: But I'm glad you're here with us today, John.

BERMAN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Have a great day guys.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.