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Chinese Satellite Picks Up Floating Object; Extensive Search for Flight 370; Russian-Ukrainian Crisis Continues Causing International Concern

Aired March 22, 2014 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CO-HOST: Good morning, on this Saturday. Boy, we just are coming out of this press conference here. And one of the big takeaways is the fact that the Chinese authorities apparently found something. All they called it was an object.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: An object. And the acting transportation minister there in this news conference about 29 minutes in, he reported that the Chinese found this. They'll be giving more details later. But all he could say was that it was 22 meters long, 30 meters wide. For those who are here in the U.S., 72 feet long, 98 feet wide. And just an object that has been found.

PAUL: We don't know where. We don't know what it looks like.


PAUL: We know that the Chinese, we understand, are going to be making an announcement later to hopefully give us some more details.

But CNN's Saima Mohsin is live from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on this Saturday morning, where officials have been holding this briefing. So Saima, other than this, anything else that stands out to you?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a number of things that we've learned today, Christi.

Let's talk about that transcript that "The Telegraph" had released in their newspaper. Obviously, CNN can't independently verify the authenticity of that transcript. But we know that, in this press conference, the authorities were asked about it. This is what they have to say. Then let's talk about it.


HUSSEIN: In this transcript, did you review the transcript of the conversation between MH-370 and air traffic control is with the investigation team where it is being analyzed. As is standard practice in investigations of this sort, the transcript cannot be publicly released at this stage. I can, however, confirm that the transcript does not indicate anything abnormal.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MOHSIN: And that is very crucial, Victor and Christi. Let me tell you why, because of course, we've been going through this, haven't we, very carefully here on CNN. What led to those last few words spoken by what we believe is the co-pilot, "All right, good night," shortly before -- just after 1 a.m. in the morning, Kuala Lumpur time, when the flight disappeared?

Now, the reason the transcript is so crucial is because what we want to learn is had something been going on on board or in the cockpit of Flight MH-370 before it disappeared, or did something take place afterwards?

And that's why Malaysian authorities are at pains to stay they didn't detect anything abnormal. A lot of the experts we've been speaking to here too have said, "No, we haven't."

Yes, the pilot mentioned that they were flying at 35,000 feet twice. Could that be a sign that he was trying to say something subtly? Or was it just him telling -- maintaining the contact with air traffic control? We simply don't know.

Another important thing that we've really been pushing here to try and learn about is the cargo manifest. What exactly was on board Flight MH-370 when it disappeared.

Now, they say that the manifest hasn't shown any links to anything that might have been connected to the disappearance of the flight. They've also been talking in-depth about the search -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Saima, we're getting more information about this object that the acting transportation minister just reported on again, for those who are just coming in, a few minutes into the show. He reported he was handed a sheet of paper. It looked as if it had just been ripped out of someone's notebook.

PAUL: Notebook.

BLACKWELL: Handed it to him. And he said that the Chinese have located this object, 72 feet long, 98 feet wide. And we're just getting a note here about where this was found. A large object in the southern Indian Ocean.

And we're expecting the Chinese to report that this is satellite imagery, much like the imagery that we found -- or the searchers found six days ago, the Australians found this piece that was found there. So you know, the question is, is this something similar? Is this a piece of the original? Is this another?

We're going to talk with some folks who know the 777 well, to determine if this is even possible, such a large piece that is 72 feet long, 98 feet wide, if that could be a piece of 370.

Because you remember, there was that piece of debris that was found about a week into this, and many of the experts immediately said it's probably not a part of the plane... PAUL: Right.

BLACKWELL: ... because the dimensions just are not something that, you know, would come from a 777.

PAUL: Right, right. OK. Let's bring in another expert. Saima, we want to thank you so much for your reporting this morning. Good to see you.

Lester Abend is a former pilot.

Les, what do you make of this announcement that something has been seen on satellite, something of pretty good proportion?

LESTER ABEND, FORMER PILOT: Good morning. Actually, I'm still working. The dimensions that I just heard from the Chinese government, it sounds like it could once again be a wing. That's certainly possible, because there's a good chance that the center fuel tanks were not utilized just because of the length of the trip. It didn't have to be utilized. And that would provide the ability to allow air into that center tank that would be empty. So it's possible it still could be floating.

When the picture was taken, who knows? You know, it might be partially submerged, all submerged now. It's difficult to tell. But by the dimensions I'd say, it could be a wing. It's fairly large.

BLACKWELL: Hey, guys, back in the control room. I saw a couple of days ago, actually yesterday there was a graphic that shows the measurements of the parts of this plane. If we could find that and bring that up, just to help people understand the dimensions of the parts of the 777 that would actually help.

But let me ask you, Les, again, this is another satellite image. Much like the satellite image from the South China Sea. Much like the satellite image that the Australians produced that they found several days ago. I mean, how of this is actually valuable until someone can lay eyes on this thing, and the conditions are quite difficult?

ABEND: Yes, because that's a great point. For all intents and purposes, you know, the intention is it could be a missing container, you know, off a cargo ship. I mean, there's -- that part of the ocean has got all sorts of shipping lanes, is my understanding. So it's hard to say. I mean, we might be wild goose chasing it again.

PAUL: You know, being a pilot, Les, I'm wondering, as you think about the pilots who are searching for any of this debris, that they believe to be out there, these are really tough conditions for them? I mean, it's deep water. It's open sea. There is no land mass to stop the storms that come every other day, as I understand it.

Help us understand from a pilot's perspective, you know, how tough it is, and what you're looking for in those kind of conditions, especially when satellite picks something up and may be able to hone in on it. How soon can you get there? ABEND: Yes, depends upon where these airplanes launch from. I mean, the best -- the best way to find this object is a direct visual sighting. You know, I'm a boater, too. The only -- if you have a rolling sea situation, it's a lot easier just to see it up close and personal.

BLACKWELL: Now, for folks who are just joining us, the breaking news this morning, the acting transportation minister in his daily briefing there announced that he received word -- and it was a literal note that had been passed to him -- that the Chinese had spotted some floating object, he called it, in the southern Indian Ocean.

The dimensions -- and we've converted them from meters to feet -- 72 feet long, 98 feet wide. And we're going to continue to show you that animation showing the measurements of the 777.

And, Les, you make a good point. I want to read something that came from the deputy prime minister of Australia, Warren Truss, this morning. He says there's a lot of debris floating around continuously. Containers do fall off ships. There are other explanations as to what items actually are. And they believe that the interest in relation to the disappearance, it's not a definite lead; probably a more solid lead.

Now that was in relation to what the Australians found six days ago. Now we have this new piece.

My question to you, Les, is is there a point at which, once we get these types of tips, that this coalition of 26 countries should exponentially ramp up this search? I mean, we're searching the Indian Ocean. This is not, you know, searching a small town, or even the South China Sea any more.

ABEND: Yes, Victor, it's been a frustrating process, you know, for everybody. You know, I've been skeptical all along from the standpoint of I'm wondering why the ELTs, the emergency locator transmitters, were not sending a signal to the satellites. It's a frequency that will actually give a latitude and longitude. They should be activated by salt water. And these -- a lot of these devices are in these slide rafts which are deployed for a ditching situation, is the purpose.

So if the airplane hit the water inadvertently -- let's use that terminology -- those should activate just by hitting that -- that liquid. And that's why I've been skeptical that it is in the water.

PAUL: All righty. Les, stick with us. We're going to talk to you more on the other side of the break. We just have to take a quick break here.

But again, new information this morning. Chinese authorities may have spotted another piece of debris in the Indian Ocean. We're going to talk more about what they may have found here coming up. Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAULA: Well could we be getting some more clues today about what happened to Flight 370? This morning, we have some news that just came into us out of the daily briefing from the Malaysian transportation official, and it appears there was a note that was just handed to the acting transportation minister as he was addressing everybody that said the Chinese have new satellite images of floating objects that could be related to this mystery flight.

Listen, in fact, to what Transportation Minister Hussein said just a couple moments ago.


HUSSEIN: The news that I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received satellite image of floating objects in the southern corridor. And they will be sending ships to verify. The Beijing government will announce this in a couple of hours. This floating object is 22 meters long and 30 meters wide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anything else?

HUSSEIN: I wouldn't know. This is all I have.


BLACKWELL: You see there, that was just a ripped sheet of paper that someone handed him. So that measurement of 22 meters longer, 30 meters wide converts to 72 feet long, 98 feet wide.

We've got Les Abend here, who is a pilot and aviation expert, our aviation analyst here, and also CNN's Andrew Stevens, who is there in Perth, Australia, which is the base for the staging ground for these flights that are taking off to search.

I want to start with you there, Andrew. The Chinese -- because, I mean, we know 239 people on this flight, more than half of them, two- thirds even Chinese citizens -- they've really ramped up their search, and now, quite possibly, they've found something that could lead to a starting point even for this search.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could add to what we already know, I think, Victor. Given the fact that -- we've got to find out exactly where this was. We know it's in the southern ocean somewhere. How close to the vicinity of where we saw the Australians' satellite pictures of those two object in the water.

Now, the Australians are talking about one of those objects being 75 -- 79 feet long. So it sort of puts it in the ballpark of the same sort of size. So it would be interesting to see whether or not they could be looking at the same object there.

But it's interesting: we are still waiting, four days on now, for some higher resolution images. Because we've all seen the images that the Australians released. They weren't clear at all. So depending on what the Chinese have got, how far is this going to advance what we already know? We are already looking for these objects in the far southern regions.

It's interesting, just today, the Chinese arrived here with two IL-76 aircraft. These are old Russian sort of transport planes. They have a lot of optical equipment on them, these Chinese planes. And they are used primarily, according to the Australians, for visual eyes on searches of that area. Because that's really so important now in this part of the search.

We know that there are -- or at least there were objects out there. It's now -- locate them again, but to actually identify what they are. And that's why we're getting a lot more eyes on. We've got the ships coming in, as well. The Australians are already there with one more ship. The Chinese will be there just a couple of days from now, we think.

And just one final point there, Victor.


STEVENS: The Australian prime minister said yesterday -- and he'd been speaking to the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and he describes Xi as being devastated by this event. Two-thirds of those passengers were Chinese. So the Chinese really are going all out on this.

PAUL: Well, Andrew, I wanted to ask you something. Because there are a couple of things in this statement that I think were -- may be contradictory, as people might have noticed.

One, he said objects were found, making it sound plural, as though there were more than one, though he cited only one. And saying that the Chinese would make an announcement in a couple of hours.

I mean, this poor man is standing at the podium, getting this information, and that's all he's got. Do we have any idea why we're not hearing from the Chinese right now, and how long it may be before they give us more detail?

STEVENS: You're good to point that out. I mean, it's a very odd way of announcing this. A sort of -- almost like a scribbled note handed at the last minute. Given the fact that the Chinese have already been burnt by releasing information that wasn't -- it wasn't state- sanctioned information, but it came out nonetheless, and everybody attributed to the Chinese state, which were these pictures in the South China Sea, which turned out to be completely wrong. It is a very bizarre way of -- of bringing this particular piece of evidence into the puzzle.

Now, the Chinese haven't been over that search area yet, Christi, with aircraft. With any air assets. So these are -- at least we know, they must be satellite pictures. We're going to have to wait and see. We're going to try and confirm with the Australian authorities what they're hearing. Because the Chinese -- I mean, just the mere fact that there are two Chinese military planes on an Australian air force base here in Perth does show us just how closely these two are now working on this. So we're going to be talking to the Australians, see what they're finding out about this.

BLACKWELL: And I know you're seeing -- Andrew Stevens, thank you so much. I know you're seeing on your screen that time, 6:20 a.m., but it's actually 6:20 p.m. there in Perth. So time is of the essence, as you hope that the five planes that are still out there searching can get to wherever this is.

The question is, have the Chinese shared with those crews that are searching where this was spotted? And can they get there before sundown?

Andrew Stevens, thank you.

Les Abend, stay with us.

We want to bring in Pauline Chiou, who is in Beijing, to ask the question that Christi just asked: Why aren't the Chinese -- and maybe they are -- sharing this information now. They suggested in this news conference in Kuala Lumpur that the Chinese will announce this in a few hours. Well, it's been announced now.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's been announced, and we should be getting more details in a couple of hours according to the Malaysian authorities.

And just to touch on what Andrew was saying earlier about the last time these satellite images were released by China. There was definitely a disconnect and some sort of miscommunication within the Chinese government about that.

Because you remember when those satellite images were released last week. That was released from the Satellite Research Center, on their government Web site. But then we were told the next day by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the mouthpiece of the Chinese government, that they were not aware of those images. So someone wasn't talking to someone else.

And in fact, the Malaysian government had said they were not aware of those images when they were released on that government Web site.

So presumably, the Chinese government would have ironed out this kind of flow of information. And that, if they had given some sort of indication to the Malaysians today, that they had this satellite imagery, presumably, that would have been vetted. And that more information would be coming down the line later on today.

Now, I can tell you that the families here in Beijing, many of them were probably watching this news conference at 5:30. Many of them still here in Beijing, staying in this hotel. Every night, most of them go back to their hotel rooms to see this news conference out of Kuala Lumpur. So, surely, they are absorbing this information. But time and time again, they've been so discouraged and so frustrated.

Earlier today, there was a second high-level meeting between these families and Malaysian authorities. This is a meeting that they've been asking for, for days. Now, some of their questions were answered in prepared statements. But as you can see from this video, emotions started running high. And here's what happened. One of the officials started listing all of the assets used in this search and rescue operation, search and recovery, naming all of the aircraft, all of the ships being used from different countries.

And then one Chinese man, a relative, stood up and said, "Don't waste our time. This is information you can just put on a bulletin board on the wall, and we can all read it later. For now, we want valuable information. We want the truth."

And that's when you saw lots of relatives stand up, echoing his sentiments. And then there was a lot of shouting and fighting. You heard some furniture being moved around. I heard two loud crashes in that room. I couldn't see what it was, but I think it was furniture that may have gotten knocked down.

During this time, Christi and Victor, the Malaysian officials got up and left, worried about their safety. So we are not sure at this point if these officials are actually going to come back tomorrow to meet with the families, because it certainly didn't end very well.

PAUL: All right. Pauline Chiou live for us there in Beijing. Pauline, thank you so much.

Listen, we're going to have more on this breaking news. Again, just to recap, the Chinese officials are saying that they have found via satellite some sort of, they believe, debris or an object floating in the southern corridor of the Indian Ocean. Could it be part of Flight 370?

We're going to continue to follow this on the other side of the break. Stay close.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: Good morning. And the breaking news this morning is that at the news conference this morning in Kuala Lumpur, it was announced that Chinese officials, via satellite, have identified a floating object in the southern corridor, which is there off the west coast of Australia. And this object, this floating object, they're calling it, 72 feet long, 98 feet wide. And this could be the next step to give the searchers a starting point, quite possibly. Now, they have to lay eyes on it, determine if it's part of the plane, part of 370.

Let's bring in CNN aviation analyst Les Abend from New York, also contributing editor of "Flying Magazine."

PAUL: So Les, let me ask you: you said, based on, you know, the parameters with which we're given this morning, this 72 feet long by 98 feet wide, you say that could potentially be a wing.

Let's say that perhaps this might be a wing from Flight 370. How long would it be, if we know that plane broke apart, and this is a wing, before other objects may float to the surface to give us a better handle on what they're dealing with underneath?

ABEND: Well, I mean, this puzzles me that there aren't more objects. I mean, there's plenty of things that -- from an aircraft that should be floating. Life jackets from underneath the seat cushions. The seat cushions themselves. Also sorts of debris. So why we haven't seen that at all, it really -- it really does puzzle me.

BLACKWELL: You know, we're just getting in that the second Australian search plane -- there was a first that came in at about 4:30 Eastern Time this morning. The second has just come in. And it reported that it found nothing of significance in its sweep of the southern Indian Ocean.

Well, the Chinese have found something, quite possibly, via satellite that could be significant. Are you surprised that these planes are coming in, considering the possible lead here in the southern Indian Ocean?

ABEND: Well, I am. And I guess the question, hopefully, will get a little more details on it, as you know, from the first time we got this lead where all the aircraft are focused right now, it was four days. That satellite imagery had been taken until we intensified that search. In the area just 1400 miles southwest of Perth. Now, what's the imagery date of this particular object that we're finding floating. We're seeing the same object, it sounds like it's a little different fragment, but you know, my -- I'm just curious what the latest date is on this one.

PAUL: I mean, now, we're looking at the fact that we're in day 15 of this. And this is a tough -- this is a tough place, I think, somebody called it the most inhospitable places on earth, one of them. Because of the storms that roll through. And because the sea can be so turbulent. How do you characterize the rescue crews? And how much time they have to go -- I mean, I would think this would be a pretty exhausting search, for even with so many people on board.

LES ABEND: Yeah. I mean, my understanding is how this is conducted. You know, this is -- considering we're still looking for it at the same place for the moment. Four hours out to the site to begin the grid search. Probably these folks that are actually doing the eyeball type stuff, the naked eye, are resting, so that their energy level is up by the time they start that search. But I fly across the North Atlantic quite frequently. And just looking down, and north Atlantic, of course, a little different, but it still has the role - same kind of rolling sea situation. And it's a frightening proposition for me if I ever have to ditch an airplane down there. Because that - it wouldn't it has marginal possibilities of being totally successful even under a control situation. So it's a nasty -- it can be nasty conditions out there.

PAUL: Okay. Les Abend, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. Again, just to recap here. Chinese authorities announcing this morning that their satellite image picked up an object that is 72 feet long, 98 feet wide in the southern corridor there. Could it be part of Flight 370? We're going to be taking a look at who may be on their way out to that site now and how much time they have, as we're heading into nightfall there soon. Back in just a moment.


PAUL: Bottom of the hour on a Saturday morning. We're following some breaking news. And we're so glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. And here's the latest on this breaking news. That this item has been found, a floating object, potentially stunning revelation from the Malaysian authorities on the search for 370. The country's acting transportation minister says that China's government has the satellite image of a large floating object in the southern Indian Ocean. Now, he says it's 72 feet, and the new number we have as it relates to the width is 42 1/2 feet. So 72 feet long by roughly 42 1/2, 43 feet. He said China will release more information in the coming hours so hopefully, we'll get more about exactly where this is. As there are search crews out there now. We know that there were six sent out, two have come in. Hopefully some information about the longitude and the latitude location of this has been passed on to those pilots.

PAUL: Right. As Victor mentioned earlier, and it's something to think about, it's 6:37 here, it's 6:37 at night.


PAUL: There. So, they are really under the gun, so to speak, because nightfall is going to be coming. How much searching can they do then? And is the weather cooperating with them. We know that this is wide open space in the ocean. There is no landmass near it to help buffer it from some of the storms that come every other day. So, we want to go out to Jennifer Gray and find out what the weather looks like there. Because certainly, we wouldn't want it to hamper the search there. Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, it depends on where you are. Of course, bad weather is hampering the search for missing Flight 370. In addition to rough seas and high winds, a cyclone warning has been declared for the southern corridor. Of course, where the debris was spotted. Conditions are quite so bad, this is very far north of where the debris was spotted, but still rough conditions across that section, and then in southern sections, we're also watching an area of showers that could be pushing in in the next 24 hours or so. This is Sunday, 4:00 a.m. East coast time which means 4:00 p.m. where the debris is located. That's going to mean rough seas for those searchers as we go through the next 24 hours or so. That is on Sunday.

This is cyclone, this is Gillian, and it is very far north of where that debris was found. But still, searchers in this area, and so that is expected to head to the south in southwest. Right now it has winds of 65 miles per hour with gusts up to 80. It is expected to intensify over the next couple of days and then weaken again and push off to the west. So this is definitely bad news for searchers in this area. Of course, this is going to be something we'll be watching for days to come, guys.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, certainly, Jennifer Gray, meteorologist Jennifer Gray, thank you so much. Of course, we'll continue our coverage of this breaking news. Chinese satellites identifying some floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean. Could this be part of Malaysian Flight 370?

PAUL: We're back in a moment.


BLACKWELL: Of course, we'll continue to follow the breaking news of Chinese satellite spotting that object floating in the southern corridor. But we also have to talk about some developments in Ukraine because that's anything but over. This weekend, international monitors sent by Europe's security body are on their way to Ukraine.

PAUL: This, of course, the day after President Putin officially made Crimea a part of Russia. Now, monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation are going to be keeping an eye on the human rights situation in the region for six months. However, they will not, we understand, enter Crimea itself.

BLACKWELL: Well, senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in Kiev. Ivan, what is the situation like there in Ukraine now that we've understood that the White House is very concerned about some operations and tactics that are happening there with Russian troops?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, in addition to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia has famously now annexed, there's a substantial buildup of Russian military forces along Ukraine's eastern border with Russia, which is causing great concern, not only for the Pentagon, and NATO, the NATO military alliance, but also, certainly, for the Ukrainian government here which has only been in power for a couple of weeks. It's been mobilizing its military forces, it's been recruiting and it launched a recruitment drive to expand its military and National Guard by about 40,000 people to the tune of $700 billion. Basically they are trying to warn Russia from avoiding, trying to make any further incursions into Ukrainian territory. So people are watching this buildup with forces across the border with great concern here. Victor, Christi?

PAUL: I'm sure they're going to be watching two leaders, including President Obama meeting next week. This group, seven group, as they are going to discuss, you know, Ukraine. Do you have any details at this point as to what's going to be on their agenda?

WATSON: Well, you know, this crisis has really put Russia and Ukraine and old kind of Cold War-style politics, back on the top of the agenda, for the White House and for Europe as well. They're imposing sanctions on Russian officials. And we've heard in recent weeks about the U.S., for example, rushing F-16 and F-15 fighter jets to Eastern Europe to patrol the skies there. So, there's great concern right now, and clearly in an effort to coordinate efforts to deal with Russia's actions in annexing Crimea to find a joint effort do-to-do this. European partners have made clear, some of them that they are economically in very tough situation right now in recent years, because of the downturn in the European economies. And it's difficult for some of those governments to impose tough sanctions against Russia, which is a major trading partner for some of the more vulnerable European countries, so that's also a concern.

We have seen, however, which is really interesting as you both mentioned, this common ground between Europe, the U.S. and Russia when it comes to sending these observers to Ukraine. Russia has indicated it welcomes this deployment of 100 observers, it says that they're going to help stop what Russia describes as banditry on the ground here in Ukraine. I haven't personally seen this banditry. Though there are these militias still occupying parts of the square behind me here. And the United Nations has argued that there is not systematic or widespread persecution of Russian speakers or ethnic Russians in Ukraine. That is one of the justifications that Russia has used for occupying and annexing Crimea. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: And we'll see if that becomes part of the justification, as the U.S. watches to see if he moves farther into Ukraine. Ivan Watson there in Kiev for us. Thank you so much.

First lady Michelle Obama is visiting China. Her week-long trip is focusing on education, diplomacy in the region, but she took a moment to express her solidarity with the families of the passengers of this Malaysian flight.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to say a very few brief words about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. As my husband had said, the United States is offering as many resources as possible to assist in the search. And please know that we are keeping all of the families and loved ones of those on this flight in our thoughts and in our prayers at this very difficult time.


BLACKWELL: And at the speech at Peking University, Mrs. Obama also called on China to respect universal rights, including freedom of expression and religion.

PAUL: All right, we'll let you know we've just gotten into CNN, a picture of this new satellite image that we've been talking about all morning, he satellite image that was found by the Chinese, they believe, of some big object floating in the southern corridor where Flight 370 may have disappeared. We're going to show that to you and get you more in just a moment.


BLACKWELL: And the breaking news this morning, the Chinese satellites have been searching the southern corridor have picked up an image of a large floating object. The dimensions, we can see it here, this is a picture, 72 feet long, 42 feet wide. This is the image from the Chinese satellites that have been searching this southern corridor. Of where Flight 370 possibly disappeared. Is this, that's a big question, part of the plane?

PAUL: Les Abend is with us, he's a pilot and CNN aviation analyst and what is interesting here, Les, is that this is an image from four days ago that is just being released. Apparently it was captured on March 18th. Why is it that there seems to be such a delay in finding these images and releasing them?

ABEND: Good question, Christi. You know, my expertise, of course, is flying an airplane. But it seems that this requires a lot of analysis before any of these things are announced. But I was just staring at the screen trying to locate the latitude and longitude where that object was discovered four days ago. So it would be interesting to plot that out on a map. The new dimensions that I heard just before the last segment seem to be more appropriate to the dimensions of a wing fragment. So that's a better detail to get.

BLACKWELL: And our weather people right now are at the maps and mapping out exactly through the longitudonal and latitudonal information there of above this image, exactly what it is. I'm going to ask a question that I probably know the answer to, but looking at this object, this is nothing that you can make out because of the shape. It's not like what we saw in the South China Sea, which was, essentially solid square. It's not like what we saw a few days ago from the Australians. This has, from what we're seeing here, several different densities here, and there seems to be, I can't tell if there's that line or what --

PAUL: Yeah, the line.

BLACKWELL: Next to it, is connected to it. Does this look like anything that you might just from first glance say it could be this or that?

ABEND: You know, I don't have a clue. I don't know if that line is actually part of the image. But it's really hard to say. And, you know, once again, I'm pretty skeptical. That new dimension could once again be a container. You just don't know.

PAUL: Les, we're talking about how time is of the essence right now. I mean it's almost 7:00 in the morning here. But it's almost 7:00 at night there. Once they do hit -- you know, once the sun goes down, are search efforts completely called off? Or in a case like this, where we have something breaking, we have something new to look for, would they continue to look for anything, or is it just futile, in the dark?

ABEND: Well, yeah, Christi, that's a good question. My opinion is, that they would probably, with night coming into the picture, I would discontinue the search. I think the only way we're going to find this thing, four days later, who knows where it had -- where it drifted now, and if it's still floating, I would probably call off the search and all the assets. It's just -- it seems like it would be a fruitless situation in the dark, even with radar. Because if this is an object that can be located, it may not have enough material that radar can pick up.

BLACKWELL: How much time do we have tonight? I mean, now 6:55 p.m. there at Perth. We know that two of the six planes that were out searching, those have come back and they've found nothing. To search for this, once they get this information there in Australia, how much time do they have before they need to just call it for the night?

ABEND: Yeah. They probably have, at the very most, another hour, like we do here in New York, even as the sun sets, you know, you have a little bit of light. But unless those assets, as far as airplanes and any sort of ships in the area, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't continue to search at this point. Even for safety reasons.

PAUL: All right. Les Abend, we understand -- are we getting the coordinates? Did you say?

BLACKWELL: OK, so, Les, we've now got here on the screen, this is the point at which this was found. A considerable difference. Can we back that out a little bit more? I want to know how close this is to that island on the west, right off the coast of Australia.

PAUL: Oh, there you go.

BLACKWELL: So, I mean this is a considerable distance from Perth where these planes have taken off, Les. And they're not going to make it out there. Even if this object is still in the same place four days later, which is highly unlikely. They're going to have to wait until daybreak tomorrow to get out there.

ABEND: Yeah, that's frustrating me. That was almost - that was a little over 1,400 miles the last time that the search for satellite imagery object was found. You're going to need a bigger airplane with a lot more fuel to get out to that distance and who knows -- like you said, where it drifted from there.

PAUL: But if you have the coordinators, real quickly, before we let you go, would they be sending ships out now to that area, even though it's night? Just to be out there when the sun rises?

ABEND: Christi, I doubt it. Unless there's a merchant ship of sorts out there at that point. Or we have one of our military navy ships out there, I doubt they would.

PAUL: OK. Well, Les, we so appreciate your expertise. And, you know, bringing us your thoughts on this this morning during this breaking news. Thank you for spending so much time with us this morning.

BLACKWELL: We'll take a quick break and we'll continue with this breaking news at the top of the hour in just a couple of minutes. Stay with us.