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Families Wait for Word; Objects in Water Possibly from Plane

Aired March 20, 2014 - 08:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, joining you from Kuala Lumpur this morning.

It's day 13 of the search for Malaysia Flight 370. And we want to get you up to date on this morning's search for debris spotted by Australian satellites. Four planes went out in search of the debris. All have left the site without spotting anything in the water. A Norwegian ship has also reached the area, almost 1,500 miles off the coast. No word yet of (ph) what they spotted, if anything.

Still, authorities say this is their best lead yet. Nothing definitive, of course, we should always, of course, caution. But Australian officials say those two objects seen in the southern Indian Ocean could be debris from the aircraft. The pictures are four days old, but the debris was captured near the search corridor, so officials are take something interest, of course.

The debris is a long way from where the plane first made a hard left on its way to Beijing. It's about 3,300 miles south of where the plane went -- may have gone off course. You can see there it's an area surrounded by nothing but water.

We'll continue to follow all these developments, Chris, of course, along with you, but back to you for now in New York.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kate, obviously the focus is on finding the plane, but it doesn't matter to anyone as much as it matters to the loved ones and family of the 239 souls on board Flight 370.

One of them is joining us now, Sarah Bajc. You're looking at her partner, her fiance, Philip Wood, there. The only American adult on Flight 370. She's in Beijing this morning.

Thank you very much for joining us, Sarah. What does this information about maybe finding debris, the best lead yet, how does this strike you?

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: It strikes me as just one more lead that may or may not come true. So it's enough to make us all anxious again after a couple of days of quiet, but, you know, I'm cautiously pessimistic that it's not a piece of the plane.

CUOMO: Cautiously pessimistic. You've said not knowing is the most difficult part. But you said, you're not an investigator but you have intuition. You continue to believe that there is a reality for the people on that plane. And what is it?

BAJC: Well, I keep hoping that somebody took this flight for a reason, which means they would have preserved it and tried to hide it some place, tried to take it some place. So if this debris is indeed part of that plane, then it kind of dashes that wishful thinking to pieces. So I really hope it's not a part of the plane, but, you know, if it is, then at least we can go down another path of deciding that, hmm, maybe, you know, maybe we need to start preparing for another scenario instead.

CUOMO: Well, I don't think anybody can argue with keeping hope alive until there's absolute reason to do anything otherwise. You and your fiance, Philip, were getting ready to be married, obviously, by suggestion of fiance. You've packed clothes in anticipation of seeing him again. Tell me about that.

BAJC: Well, first of all, I'm not sure where the word fiance came from because it's never come from me. I mean, we're domestic partners. We've been together for two and a half years and have made the decision to stay together. But having both come out of very long-term prior marriages, we're just kind of taking it slow right now. So that word came from somebody other than me. But it doesn't matter because he's my life partner and I don't quite - I don't have a plan of what I'm going to do if he doesn't come back.

CUOMO: Life partner, I think, says it best anyway. So let's go with that. It's not only accurate, but it sounds right as well. So you're waiting for news about your partner. It's been frustrating. This search is about as complicated as you get because of what is known and unknown. While there's international cooperation, some two dozen countries, there's a lot of politics involved as well. Do you feel that you're being treated fairly by those investigating the situation?

BAJC: I don't necessarily think the people investigating the situation are particularly caring about what the families feel like. They're caring about finding the plane. And, you know, that's probably as it should be. They should keep their focus there.

But, you know, the way the international investigators have been working together is kind of like a bunch of teenage girls running around a locker room, all trying not to show each other what they've got, right? It's kind of a false sense of modesty. And if, you know, if we would have had a little bit more disclosure and a little bit more open cooperation earlier in the cycle, we might be at a completely different place now. I mean 13 days. That's a long time to have something so big just disappear.

CUOMO: And it is an eternity for those waiting for loved ones and word of where they are and how they are. Everybody can understand that for all the confusion there is in this situation. Let me ask you, what were you told about what's being called this best lead so far? Were you briefed? What did they tell you?

BAJC: No, I don't actually get any formal briefings. I've never yet heard from the U.S. officials or Malaysian or Chinese. I hear from the news. So one of the side benefits of engaging with the media is now I have lots of people on my side, and I get lots of text messages as soon as there's anything interesting. And, in general, that's where I get my news. And, so far, that's proven to be the most direct path. It takes forever for Malaysia Airlines to follow through on - I think they called me at 3:30 this afternoon.

CUOMO: Well, that's -- that's a little concerning.

BAJC: To tell me that there is a potential update.

CUOMO: That's a little concerning as a representative of one of these families involved. Obviously we're happy to be on your emergency contact list. We're happy to pass on information to you here at CNN. You know that. But why do you think they're not communicating with you more? It should be a priority. The only thing I'll differ with you on is that the families should very much be a priority for the airline and investigators. You need to know these answers most, most would suggest. So why do you say that they're not getting to you and why do you think that is?

BAJC: Well, I think -- so I would distinguish from the investigators and from Malaysia Airlines. The investigators are government and Malaysia Airlines is a relatively small company and a relatively small country, and it's -- I've flown it many, many times. It's one of the best airlines in southeast Asia.

But the reality is, they're not equipped to handle something like this and I think they're completely overwhelmed. So the lack of communication from the airline is actually understandable. They're doing their best. They're trying not to release information until it's been proven, which is, you know, a step better than a lot of the media. But it is frustrating because it's always kind of after the fact. And then it's very watered down. You know, all the details are missing.

CUOMO: It has to be terribly frustrating. Here on NEW DAY at CNN, we'll continue to test what comes out of the investigation. We'll pass on anything that we know. But certainly we don't want to send you down roads of false speculation. That's not helpful. Sarah, thank you for joining us this morning. We hope you get the news that you're looking for and we appreciate you being on with us. We'll stay in touch.

BAJC: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Thank you.

We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, on the water, in the air, search crews racing to get eyeballs on this debris in the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia. We will head to Kuala Lumpur for the latest on the investigation when we come back.


BOLDUAN: I'm Kate Bolduan joining you once again from Kuala Lumpur, where this morning families have gathered looking for answers, looking for answers on the latest news on Flight 370.

Now that Australian officials say two objects, seen on satellite, could be debris from that missing jet, though they are very cautious in that.

Let's bring in Sara Sidner, who's been -- you've been hearing from some of the families. They're all desperate for answers, of course.


BOLDUAN: An answer, the answer, where is the plane and where are their family members. But they're all reacting in their own way I guess we could say.

SIDNER: They are. Some of them sound very resigned, saying that whatever is given to us, whatever information we get about this plane, if they actually find it, we'll accept it. We have no choice. Others are saying, I do not accept that these -- this debris that's been seen is the plane and I still think that my loved ones are alive and I still think that this plane is intact somewhere. We want more answers. And you're going to keep hearing that and keep hearing that and understandably so. They have been on this arc that keeps going up and down.

BOLDUAN: Such a roller coaster.

SIDNER: A complete roller coaster. And some of them, I think, have sort of pulled back from all of this and every time they hear information, they try to block it a little bit because their emotions have been so pulled to extremes that they just - they can't take it anymore. They really can't.

BOLDUAN: It almost sounds, just along that line, it sounded like Sarah Bajc, who was talking to Chris just a short time ago, the partner of Philip Wood, she seemed to be dealing with that. It's another lead. She's holding out hope. She said she was cautiously pessimistic because she has hope that Philip will be -- that they will be reunited.

This hour, officials are supposed to be in a briefing -


BOLDUAN: With some of the family members of the missing passengers at a hotel here in Kuala Lumpur that should be going on yet -- as we speak. But what more information will they learn, I wonder?

SIDNER: That's the thing. I mean they had their press conference. They released all the information that they were able to release.


SIDNER: All of that mostly coming from Australia. And then giving the logistics. Who's going where. It's very clear now that the southern corridor is the place to be. They've sent all of their ships and they've sent almost all of the aircraft to that area. So that gives you an idea of how seriously they're taking this information and where they think that there might be some debris from this plane or that they think that this is a really important area they're going to find something.

But what they're going to tell the families, I think some of this is just so that the families can vent, so that they can talk through the questions that they have so they don't feel left out of the process. And you've been hearing that from the families.

You've been hearing that they feel like they're the last to know or they're getting their information off of television. They want to be in the know as much as possible. But ultimately, and I think the acting transportation minister put it the best, he said, what the families want, we don't have. We don't know where this plane is right now.

BOLDUAN: And that's absolutely right. And we did hear - I believe they said -- also said today that Malaysian Airlines, they have decided they are not sending their own representatives down to Perth -

SIDNER: Right.

BOLDUAN: Or down to the area until there's confirmation that - confirmation that this is the debris, if that confirmation comes. But also that leads me to wonder, will Malaysian Airlines fly the families down? Because I would assume they would want to be there.

SIDNER: And that's the false hope thing. I think Malaysian Airlines looked at this and said, unless and until we know that there is a definite with this particular area and that there is a definite with these pieces, we're going to keep the families here. And if we find out, yes, this is part of MH-370, we send the families and the representatives from Malaysian Airlines, obviously, go. Maybe they'll be talking through that with the families.

They will probably be asked, why have you decided this? If there's any clue or any chance, shouldn't we be there? So I'm sure these are some of the issues they'll be talking through when they meet with the representatives from the government.

BOLDUAN: And as night falls here on Kuala Lumpur, our viewers are waking up back in the United States. Another night it seems, though some kind of a credible lead, another night that these families will have to go either sleepless or at least knowing that they just don't have the answer that they want yet.

SIDNER: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: We'll be covering it together. Sara, it's great to see you. Thanks so much. Let's head back to New York with John Berman -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Thanks so much, Kate. Let's go to the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Number one -- no sign yet, as Kate mentioned, of the debris spotted by Australian satellites that could be -- could be from Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Four planes have now flown over the search zone today. A Norwegian ship is near that zone as well just about 1,500 miles from Perth from Southwestern Australia.

Ukraine making a major concession to Russia -- pulling troops out of Crimea; meantime Ukraine's U.N. ambassador says he is concerned about a further Russian military incursion into Ukrainian territory.

Georgia investigators have received an anonymous e-mail claiming reports of a confession in the death of Kendrick Johnson. The teen, you'll remember, was found rolled up in a school gym mat last year. Now, prosecutors have subpoenaed Internet records to try to find the source of that e-mail.

First Lady Michelle Obama is in China along with daughters Sasha and Malia and her own mother. On her blog, she said she will stress the importance of education for young people.

And then a new dinosaur has been identified -- a 500-pound, 11-foot tall raptor with a beak and feathers. It's nicknamed the "chicken from hell" -- apparently it's a free-range chicken from hell. It roamed across the Dakotas some 66 million years ago.

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

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: Did you say "free range" chicken from hell?

BERMAN: It roamed across the Dakotas with no barriers, so free range chicken from hell.

CUOMO: A little surprised JB didn't pop out a little Latin there about its kingdom, phylum, order --


PEREIRA: genus, phylum and order -- yes, all right.

Thanks so much JB.

Coming up next on new day, those large floating objects in the vast Indian Ocean -- could they really be from Flight 370? No one has a real look yet. So we're going to take a virtual look at the search and what happens next, straight ahead.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

It's being called the biggest lead yet in the disappearance of Flight 370. Again, we have to point out it is just a lead. We don't know what these objects are. In fact, no one does. So until we get a closer look, we really only can take a virtual look at what we do know.

Tom Foreman joins us live from Washington with a virtual look at this area that they are looking at -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michaela. We said all day yesterday that the real place to focus was that area off of Australia because it was getting so much attention and because U.S. officials had been unwavering in the idea that of these two arcs here that are described by the satellite data -- the northern arc and the southern arc -- the southern one was the one to watch. And indeed, that's where the news has appeared.

But the difference between this being a lead and this being something real is a whole different matter. Let's break down some of the possibilities on the debris here.

Here's the stuff they found. We've been looking at these images overnight. And like anybody else, you can look at that and say there's just not a whole lot to tell there but there is surrounding data which may offer some clues here.

First of all, let's look at what might matter here -- credibility. We know that the government there came out and spoke about this. They don't want to look wrong, no government does. So that in the first place is sort of a "trust me" category. If officials say trust us, this is worth looking at, that matters. But there remains doubt. And we know what happened with the Chinese debris. Nothing came of it.

What's another factor to consider here? Size -- size is both a pro and a con here. It's a pro because this is a big plane and it can produce big pieces like that. And you can spot them. This is about 200 feet end to end -- about 200 feet side to side. The biggest piece they found was around 78 feet long. A little bit longer. So can you get something like that out of a plane like this? Yes you can.

That is a pro. It's a big piece. You can spot it. They can analyze it from a satellite image and say we think we have something.

Here's the con. It came up with the Chinese images and it's already come up with this as well. If it's that big and it came from this plane, how can it float for 12 days out here? That's a big question. There are many things on a plane like this that will float. Seat cushions and rafts and all sorts of debris, but a 78-foot piece of the framework of this plane, you have to have very certain circumstances to come together to make it float.

It's not exactly floating so that brings us to the third area here where you have a pro and a con -- the location. The location is right but locating it is now a big challenge because it's slightly below the surface. This is an area where the seas can be very stormy as we know and that can be a problem.

And if it's below the surface people keep talking about these pingers. Let's fly down here talk about what this means when you get closer to this. A lot of people say why don't you just drop something in the water and look for this?

The pingers are ultra sonic pingers that actually have an optimal range of maybe a couple of miles. We've been talking about the warmth of the water. That produces what are called thermoclines -- layers of different temperatures in the water. That also affects the ability of these pingers to be heard.

So even though they now have a satellite image, even though they have an idea of where that came from, as we've already seen, actually finding these pieces is a big challenge. Actually recovering them is the next one. And then figuring out if they belong with this plane is yet another. Especially in an area where there's a lot of sea garbage -- a lot of stuff out there that can confuse the issue.

On top of which they are 14 miles apart. Does the proximity, does that location mean they are related? It could but 14 miles is still a pretty big area even if there's a lot of other debris around it. So those are some of the pros and cons they have to be looking at right now. And it remains a lead as you pointed out, Michaela but just a lead at this moment. One with a lot of cautions -- Michaela, Chris.

PEREIRA: Yes. And the fact is they have to get there first. That seems to be the biggest challenge right now given how the conditions are out there. Tom Foreman thanks so much for that look. It was fantastic.

CUOMO: Just finding what they think they saw several days ago is probably a 50/50 proposition. But we'll follow it as the news requires.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the latest on this potential breakthrough -- we're calling it a lead because that's what the Australian prime minister called it. The best lead so far. Nothing best about finding out what happened to this plane if it's bad information -- that's for sure. We'll take you through what's known so far and why when NEW DAY returns


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Kate will continue her reporting on Flight 370 but it is now time for "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello.

Carol -- over to you.