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French Satellites Reveal New Possible Debris; Search for Flight 370 Concentrates in Indian Ocean

Aired March 23, 2014 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CO-HOST: So good to see you on a Sunday. Thank you for spending some time with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell. Six a.m. now on the East Coast.

We're beginning with breaking news in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Just moments ago -- literally just minutes ago...

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Malaysian officials confirmed they've received new images, this time from French satellites that could show potential objects that -- in the southern corridor in the search area. Now we'll get to CNN's Atika Shubert in Kuala Lumpur for that in just a moment. But we want to get you caught up on what else we know this morning.

PAUL: Yes. The search team is larger than ever now. Eight planes from four countries have been scouring the waters of the southern Indian Ocean, which includes the world's most sophisticated search plane. We're talking about the U.S. Navy's P-8 Poseidon, which returned to Perth just a short time ago.

BLACKWELL: But despite the capabilities of the Poseidon, today's search has taken a decidedly low-tech turn. The emphasis is on using eyes to spot things, eyes over radar, trying to lay eyes on these items beyond the satellites and, of course, all the radar technology.

Now yesterday a civilian plane spotted a wooden pallet in the water along with some strapping belt, but when a New Zealand jet tried to confirm the sighting, all it found was seaweed.

PAUL: Australian officials say today's search effort focused on an area that was seen in that image. Take a look at this. Remember it from the Chinese satellites? That large optic there -- object there in the ocean, that is what everybody is really honed in on. But the thing is, that image was from Tuesday.


PAUL: It was from March 18. So, it's five days old at this point, and even a gentle current, we're told, can move any of that debris hundreds of miles in just a day.

BLACKWELL: So of course, time is of the essence. I mean, they're now more than halfway through their estimated battery life for these -- these flight recorders. Listening for the ping. And to give you an example of what searchers are hoping to hear, here it is.




PAUL: Yes, that is the noise that everybody so desperately wants to hear. But you have to be within two nautical miles to detect it. And today's search area is nearly 23,000 square miles.

BLACKWELL: Wow. So it's more of a click than a ping.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: But that's what they're listening for. To get you caught up on today's search let's bring in Atika Shubert from Kuala Lumpur now.

PAUL: Atika, good morning to you. What do we know about these new satellite images from French authorities that we're just learning about?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't have much. At this point, all that we know is that these are potential objects found in the southern corridor. We don't know how far away they are from the search area. They're looking at now. We don't know the size of the images or the date.

So the first thing that they're going to have to do is compare them to the other images they have from the Chinese satellites, for example, and try and figure out whether or not they're looking at the same object or a different one. And if it's a different one, it opens up a whole new search area.

Now Malaysian authorities, who are coordinating the search effort, have already forwarded these on to the Australian teams. Once they compare some of these photos and figure out the size and other details, then they will likely dispatch another round of search planes to the area.

But unfortunately, it is a long and tedious process. As you mentioned, it's largely a visual search. And so what they've been doing is not only using these military planes, but also drafting in commercial jets and commercial ships to try and cover up more area.

BLACKWELL: So we've got more planes, as you talk about the search planes. More in the sky today than yesterday. And as we mentioned, they are up against some really rough weather out there.

SHUBERT: Yes. Really rough weather. And what that means is it's going to take up a lot more fuel and time. They're not going to be able to search in the same way they would have.

And the other thing is, you know, when you've got these really choppy waves, it's harder to tell what you're looking at. It's a lot of staring out into the ocean. And if you get these huge waves, it's possible to confuse it maybe for a small piece of debris.

And really, they're not just looking for large, metal objects. They're looking for anything on a plane that might float. So you know, sort of plastic overhead containers that you sometimes see, some of the floating cushions. That's what they're looking for. And those are really quite small. So it really is just scanning with your eyes this endless ocean surface and, unfortunately, bad weather makes that even harder.

PAUL: All righty. Atika Shubert, we so appreciate the update, thank you.

BLACKWELL: So, the search teams, of course, scouring the Indian Ocean. Investigators are desperately waiting to hear that ping, more like a click from the flight recorders. It's the noise designed, as we said, to help locate a plane's location. Again, here's what it sounds like.




PAUL: It almost sounds minute to us, doesn't it, as we listen to it. Like it would be very easy to miss it if you were near it. And the thing is, as the battery runs out, that sound's going to fade here, and we're looking at possibly April 6, in just about 14 days, I think, at this point before that ping might just go silent.

So let's talk about what's happening with ocean explorer and expedition logistics expert Christine Dennison; CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general Mary Schiavo, as well.

Ladies, thank you both so much for being with us.

Mary, let me start with you if I could, please. There's no word yet on whether the U.S. is going to provide hydrophones. That's something else that's being discussed now. Those are the underwater listening devices that help detect a plane's ping, as you heard there. Help us understand: Would these hydrophones be useful if you don't have a specific debris field yet?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, no, it's very difficult because, as you mentioned, it's about -- two miles is about your limit. And one to three, if you will, for the listening.

When they zero in or narrow down, rather, the debris field so they can then calculate what the winds and waves have done to the debris and take it back to the likely point of impact, that's the area in which they need to be listening for these pings. Obviously, the black boxes don't float. So the hope would be -- is once they find the debris, then they can retrace the debris steps, if you will. And have where they need to search for the sound of the ping or click.

BLACKWELL: So let's take it to the next step, Christine, here. Of course, we know searching underwater, especially at depths of 10 to 13,000 feet, not easy at all. We know sometimes autonomous unmanned vehicles, or the AUVs, are used to aid in ocean searches. Walk us through what happens once that debris field is located.

CHRISTINE DENNISON, EXPEDITION LOGISTICS EXPERT: Well, once the debris field is located and identified, I think that's the point that we're making at the moment, is that we really need to know what they're looking at before they put, before they launch any underwater vehicle.

And so there is a process here by which they must identify the objects, collect the objects, and then find and map and start their grid on where they're going to launch these vehicles that will then start mapping that area of ocean floor to bring back data. There is some time before we start putting anything in the water.

We're still working top side, visuals, which is the only way we're going to be able to tell what these objects are, where they're coming from and follow that, follow that trail, if you will.

Mary, we -- I was listening to an expert yesterday talking about the fact that everybody was trying to distinguish --and if we could bring it back up on the screen -- what that satellite image yesterday was. Was it a wing, based on its dimensions.

But there was an expert yesterday saying this could actually be a piece of debris that is a lot of little pieces stuck together, like overhead bins and seat cushions and cosmetic blockheads that all get intermingled with wire and other things.

The fact that, if this could be part of 370, and it's been out there for two weeks in the water since this plane vanished two weeks ago, what would be the condition of this debris?

SCHIAVO: Well, pretty weathered and beaten, but what's surprising is what floats, beside the obvious -- seat cushions or the life rafts or life vests -- in prior accidents, and that's, you know, all we have to go on at this point, but in prior accidents, it's unusual things. Suitcases, chart cases, tennis shoes, sneakers, galley carts will sometimes search -- will float, rather. And so it's interesting what can be combined together into this grouping of materials, and then, of course, in two prior, three prior accidents, it was the tail that actually floated.

BLACKWELL: Christina, authorities there in Australia say today's search is focused on just the -- on a visual search. I mean, they've got the eight jets there. They're trying to see whatever is there. Because, you know, they haven't spotted anything that actually is what the satellites have picked up. We've got the satellite pictures but no visual confirmation. Do you think that's the right strategy? DENNISON: I think these are -- I've been on location. I've worked under these conditions, and I can say that, at this point that you're working with the best teams available, and they know what they're doing. And they're working 24/7, and they -- they're going out in rotations, and they know that this is the first stage. This is the way they have to go about visually identifying what they're seeing in the water.

And, of course, the conditions are changing very rapidly and day to day. So they're really trying to follow this trail to identify these pieces and say, "All right, we can start here," and then move to the next phase. Yes, I agree.

PAUL: Mary, real quickly, Australian prime minister said that we've now had a number of very credible leads and increasing hope that we're going to find 370, based on this new information coming in today from the French satellite that they have spotted debris in that same area. How confident are you that this isn't just some flotsam randomly floating?

SCHIAVO: Well, because of the numbers, and they seem to be concentrated in the area, and they're increasing. And I do think they're zeroing in on a debris field. I'm hopeful.

BLACKWELL: All right. Christine Dennison and Mary Schiavo, thank you, both.

DENNISON: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, ladies.

BLACKWELL: And next on NEW DAY, a breaking story out of Washington state. Reports of people trapped under a devastating landslide, and we'll have a live report.

PAUL: Also ahead, day 16, we know what it's like for us watching it all, right, but what about these families? We're going to talk about how they're doing right now with their long wait for answers at this point.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: Fourteen minutes past the hour right now. We're keeping our eyes, obviously, on this morning's news that France has discovered what could be possible Flight 370 wreckage. They've caught this via satellite. Some objects in the same area...


PAUL: ... or close to the same area. We're waiting for authorities to really take a good look, a good gander at that satellite. We know that it is with Australian authorities now.

But we have some other news we have to get to out of Washington state. It's been a very urgent situation going on right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the emergency search-and-rescue teams, they are following cries -- literal cries -- for help and taking extreme risks in the hopes of digging out survivors of the wreckage of a massive landslide northeast of Seattle.

PAUL: What you're looking at there is some of that debris, and people were literally screaming from underneath it. This is a deep, deadly mixture of rocks, of trees, of mud, as you see there. Really unstable situation at the moment.

We do know at this point three people have been killed. Three others, including a 6-month-old baby, are in critical condition.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now for the very latest, CNN's Nick Valencia.

Nick, you look at those pictures...

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're just dramatic, aren't they?


VALENCIA: Developing catastrophic situation. We already know that this event has been fatal. Three people have been killed. Also, three others in critical condition, including a 6-month-old baby.

The big concern right now, guys, is the Stillaguamish River. That mudslide, that landslide came down from the mountain top, and it's really created a swell in that river; and officials are concerned that the debris could take over towns downstream.

Yesterday the fire chief spoke to the local media and talked about this very disastrous situation there just 75 miles northeast of Seattle, Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have people that are yelling for our help. And we're going to make-- we're going to take extreme risks to try to get them out of there.


VALENCIA: Forty-five miles, I'm sorry 44 yards wide, 6 houses destroyed, more damage. The cause of this, according to the local police, is ground saturation. It's really a lot of heavy rain in the last month that's led to this catastrophic situation.

The pictures there just really hard to turn away from. Look at all that mess there, guys.

PAUL: You know, I was reading that the first reports came in about 10:45 yesterday morning, which is 1:45 Eastern Time.

BLACKWELL: Our time, yes.

PAUL: And it's along that State Road 350 -- or 530, rather. And that's a two-lane road, as I understand it. Right?

VALENCIA: It's a rural area.

PAUL: Has it blocked access to and from the towns, do you know?

VALENCIA: We're working on trying to figure out what emergency crews are dealing with. But it's a very rural area. It's blocked passage on -- we know that that two-lane road that you're looking at there right now. So emergency crews have their hands full. You talk about this, Christi, 10:45 yesterday West Coast time. It's 6 a.m. in the morning, you know, 3 a.m. there in the morning, West Coast time. They're still trapped. They've been trapped for more than 12 hours.

PAUL: And it's dark.

VALENCIA: And it's dark.

BLACKWELL: And I understand one of the difficulties is trying to get into these people who are literally screaming for help. You can't step on these piles of mud, because you could crush and shift. And the people who are on these, they could slip and fall into this.

VALENCIA: Could create an even more potentially disastrous situation.

BLACKWELL: All right. Keep watching this.

VALENCIA: We'll keep an eye on it, guys.

BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Nick.

So the families of the passengers on the missing plane. You've seen some of the pictures, and it's hard to watch some of these people.


PAUL: They're furious, and they're devastated; and their -- their wounds are really open and raw right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they say even after 16 days now of this search, Malaysian officials are not keeping them informed on the situation. We'll talk about that in a moment.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: And the breaking news this morning on the search for missing Flight 370. The French satellites have now picked up what they're calling potential objects. And those images -- these are satellite images -- have been passed on to both Malaysian officials and to Australian officials as the search continues in the south Indian Ocean in the search in the southern corridor. So of course, we'll stay on top of that.

But you have to think this is the second day this weekend when a country has passed on these images, and the families of the 239 people onboard now for 16 days have been waiting for some answer.

PAUL: And you think, you know, this up and down, this constant, they found something, they didn't find something, because, remember, these families have all said they hope it landed somewhere. They don't want to hear of a crash in the ocean, because at least they've got hope that the people they love may still be alive if it landed somewhere and we just haven't found it yet.

We want to get more information on that, because we know that these families, the anguish they're feeling is really amplified in their frustration. And look at how they're reacting here to -- in this video to some of the meetings they're having with both the Malaysian Airlines.

We want to get to Pauline, too. She's live with us from Beijing. Pauline, so I understand that, you know, that families had a meeting with the Malaysian airline people, and it did not go well.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it did not go well. And that video that you saw was from Saturday when emotions were really, really running high.

And in fact, in that meeting, the officials got up and walked out, because they were worried about their own safety. So we were not sure if they would actually come back on Sunday, Sunday evening here in Beijing right now.

But, in fact, they did show up, and these officials met again with the family members. And it's much quieter today. And in fact, there was not a lot of drama that we saw yesterday. And, in fact, they met all day.

And we were speaking with some relatives as they came out, because media was not allowed. In fact, the Malaysian officials set down some new ground rules, saying they did not want cameras in there because of what happened yesterday.

Now, we did speak with one grandmother who exited that briefing room. And she really showed us that there's still a high level of frustration and concern.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is my first day here. I said what I needed to say. I'm too angry. Every day I watch the television, and I'm going to go crazy soon. I'm very emotionally unstable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHIOU: And she speaks with -- for so many relatives. They're just emotionally drained and exhausted.

Now, you heard her say that this was her first day at a family briefing. Well, here is her story. Her daughter was on that Malaysia Airlines flight. Her daughter had gone to Malaysia for a holiday and was returning. And her daughter had left her kids home. The grandmother has been busy taking care of her daughter's kids, her grandchildren. They're 4 years old and 8 years old, still wondering where their mother is -- Christi.

PAUL: Cannot imagine.

BLACKWELL: So 16 days now. How many people are still hopeful there?

CHIOU: That's a very good question. When you look at the faces across the room, you see that reality is setting in.

And there is that small group of people that just wants to hang onto hope. You mentioned earlier, just the fact that they don't find debris is actually a cause for optimism, because maybe it means the plane landed somewhere.

Now, I posed that question to a man who came out today for some fresh air. I said, "When you talk about the group, what's the level of hope there?"

And he said, "Realistically, it's about 80/20." He said that probably 80 percent of the family members in there are prepared for bad news. But then there's that 20 percent that is still optimistic, and they really want to believe that their loved ones are still alive.

And we've met some of them. We met a man recently who said, "I don't think that debris near Australia is from the airplane. I believe my son is alive."

We spoke with another woman who said, "My mother's instinct is that my son is still alive."

So you see that dichotomy, Christi and Victor, but they all know that, as each day progresses, the prospects of good news diminishes.

PAUL: Pauline, just real quickly, is there any indication that, you know, with these meetings Malaysia Air officials are meeting with them only as a group, or have they -- have they been able to meet one- on-one or individually with some of these families or even attempted to do so?

CHIOU: They are only meeting with them as a big group. This big banquet room in the hotel behind me has been turned into a news briefing room, and they are just meeting with them as this enormous group.

Yesterday, from that video that you saw, there were about 400 to 500 relatives there. Today, it was a little bit less. One relative told me it was maybe 150 people, about 200. We just couldn't get in, because they are not allowing cameras in any more.

So I don't think they're meeting individually. They could, if they wanted to. Some of these relatives meet on the sidelines and ask certain officials certain questions. But this -- the format is people get up and ask questions to these officials, and they're sitting at this sort of banquet table at the front of the room, answering questions through microphones. So, that's the way things have been going.

And I believe things went well today. They met all day, so they should have be having these meetings tomorrow, as well.

BLACKWELL: Unimaginable. Pauline Chiou for us live in Beijing. Pauline, thank you.

In a moment, we'll have more on this morning's breaking news. The French satellite images showing potential objects in the southern corridor search area for Malaysia Flight 370. Stay with us.


PAUL: Let's get you your mortgage update right now. Rates are up a bit from last week. Take a look.


PAUL: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Christi Paul. So glad to have you with us today.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. And the breaking news this morning, the search for missing Flight 370 less than an hour ago. Malaysian officials said they received new satellite images from France that may show potential objects in the southern search corridor area. Now, we do not yet know when those images were taken or how big the objects could be.

PAUL: We want to go to CNN justice reporter Evan Perez right now joining us from Washington. Evan, good to have you with us this morning. Thank you. We know that these images have been moved or passed over to Malaysia authorities, to Australia. Are they in the hands of U.S. authorities yet? Have you seen this image?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I have not yet seen this image and I'm sure it is going to be on its way at this moment to U.S. authorities also that are involved in the searching. Obviously, this is more good news. You know, if there's more satellite images showing, perhaps, some debris, this is - you know, gives them more hope that perhaps they're searching in the right area, which is a big, big relief because, as you know, this has been going on for more than two weeks now and nothing much has been found.

BLACKWELL: Australian officials say today that mostly it's a visual search, but, of course, these teams hopefully are listening for that ping from these flight data recorders. We understand that Malaysia is asking the U.S. for hydrophones, these underwater listening devices and that could be really a significant development since the 370s locater beacons may go silent in, what, 14 days now.

PEREZ: Right, these things are made to last about 30 days and that is the battery life of them. It doesn't go silent immediately. Basically, it's just, you know, it's kind of like any device in your house, the battery just gets weaker and weaker and the tone which we have been playing on air here goes just a little more dimmer and dimmer. And so, they're really racing against time to try to make sure they try to get -- find some debris and perhaps find these before these pingers go silent in the next two weeks or just a little longer. Now I should remember -- you might remember in 2009 in the crash of Air France, they were able to spot some debris. They didn't find the black boxes immediately and the battery did die, but at least they had found the debris and they knew where in the general area where to look, Victor.

PAUL: You know, let's talk about some of the things they say they know, they believe to have identified. A wooden pallet, some strapping belt they believe have been spotted by searchers. Why could those things specifically be so significant?

PEREZ: Again, some more good news for these families that are waiting to see if they can get some closure out of this. And, you know, the pallets that may have been sighted could be some that are used on aircraft in the cargo hold, for instance. They load them on to containers and then, you know, for easier shipment. And so, it could be that these were pallets and shipping materials that were put on this aircraft if, indeed, that's what they are. Again, it's more hope that perhaps some signs of the debris of this aircraft have been found, but I guess, you know, given the weather conditions down there, they don't know yet exactly what they've found.

BLACKWELL: I think we have an image here we can pop up just so people -- when we say wooden pallet most people understand what that is, but in case you don't do we have that image that we can pop up? OK, we do not have that image yet.

PAUL: It's coming.

BLACKWELL: But we'll get it in a moment. Let's talk more about the search today as we move into tomorrow. Six planes yesterday, eight planes today. Indication from the Australian officials that more planes will be en route tomorrow. We heard from one of the leaders there in Australia of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, John Young, that warships are on the way to the area, as well. Tell us what you know about the resources that are en route.

PEREZ: Well, there's a tremendous amount of resources. I mean, we got over a dozen countries that are contributing now. You have got countries that don't often get along. The Japanese, for instance, are going to be searching alongside the Chinese. You have got countries that have all kind of disagreements that are putting those aside and are sending assets, aircraft or boats or ships into this area. This is one of the most remote parts of the world, this part of the Indian Ocean. And so, every bit of it helps and I think this, again, shows you perhaps that what the Australian authorities have been saying and what the U.S. authorities have been saying. That perhaps this is the best hope -- they believe that there are signs that they can find the debris here. The fact that all those assets are being sent there, I think, gives you an indication that they really do believe this.

PAUL: Already. Evan Perez, live for us in Washington. Evan, thank you so much.

I want to bring in now CNN's Andrew Stevens. He is in Perth, Australia. Andrew, thank you so much. This, of course, the head of where the search is originating now. Have you heard anything yourself or have you seen these satellite images that are coming from France?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we haven't, Christi. That was coming from the Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur just a short while ago. And all they said that they had received these satellite images from the French and they had passed all the information on to the Australians who are coordinating the search down here out of Perth and also in the capital of Canberra. But it is another piece, perhaps, of this jigsaw. This is the third piece of satellite imagery that we now know about it. Started with the Australians two days later the Chinese took a picture of another object, roughly within 75 miles of those two objects the Australian satellites have seen and now we have French satellite imagery. All we know that it is in the southern part of the search zone, which is where the tip of the search spear is. So, they are all coming together.

And it's interesting because a few hours ago the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came out with what I would say was a pretty bullish statement saying there is still so little known of actually about what is there, what may or may not be there. Now, let me just read you this quote. I think it's quite interesting. "We've had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope, no more than hope that we might be on the way to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft." This is the Australian prime minister. You don't get a higher authority, obviously, than that. And he is volunteering this information. So, obviously, there is a sense that this lead, which has already been called strong, is developing into something perhaps stronger. I can also tell you that yesterday some small pieces of debris were seen by a corporate jet. One of these ultra-long range corporate jets going into the search zone. The only thing that I could identify is you've been discussing, is this wooden pallet. They've gone back there today, we haven't heard whether they found anything. Only one plane has returned so far from today's search. That is the USPA, which is the long-range surveillance with ultra-sophisticated surveillance. They didn't see anything, Christi.

PAUL: All right, we have an image of a wooden pallet, just so people know what we're talking about. If we can pull that up here. But Andrew, I wanted to ask you because I noticed something in that statement by the prime minister, as well, where he said we've now had a number of very credible leads. A lot of people might be sitting back going -- we are just talking about debris, how credible is this? Do you get the sense, and it would be understandable, but do you get the sense that they know much more than they're releasing?

STEVENS: Yeah, that's a good question. It's a difficult to answer. The Australians have been very forthright in saying that we need to get the information out as quickly as we can. And that was Tony Abbot the prime minister's reason a couple of days ago when he first said that there was this new credible information and then nothing developed from there. And he was put on the defensive a bit. Saying that we need to get this information out for the families. We can't say for sure, obviously, that those objects are related to MH- 370. I suspect that given this latest statement from Tony Abbott, there is a growing sense within the Australian search coordinators that they do think they are on to something. They have to put so much caution into this. But think of the assets that are coming down. We've already had eight flights out today. There are now four commercial corporate jets. There are four Australian and New Zealand search planes, military search planes. There is a U.S. search plane, two Chinese search planes will go out tomorrow. Two Japanese search planes arrive just about an hour ago here at the air force base when I am.

So, the assets are really focusing on that area, not just the land, but it's also sea. There's an Australian naval vessel on site. There are three Chinese naval ships making their way. And I'm just being told that the Australians are sending another vessel, which has capabilities for remotely operated vehicles under water. So, you put it altogether and add the satellite images and, certainly, you think about what we've known over the past 15 days or so. There does seem to be a coming together of information, which all points to the same area.

PAUL: All right, Andrew Stevens, boy, we appreciate you keeping us apprised of what's going on there. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Of course, we'll have much more on the search for Flight 370 just ahead. Again, the new satellite images, they may help crews as they try to find, again, as we've said many times, a starting point in this southern corridor to try to find any trace of this missing Boeing 777.


PAUL: So, we're talking about this new satellite imagery that's coming from France. That satellite imagery is in the hands already of Australia and Malaysian authorities where they believe they have seen potential objects is how they're characterizing them. But we know that as search crews go out there, the weather has been so daunting for them. In fact, I was reading that P-8 had to descend to 300 feet because of the weather.

BLACKWELL: And you consider all the challenges that already face all these crews having no idea specifically where these objects are, just basing the search on visual, on objects on satellite images from several days ago and now they have to fight the weather. Jennifer Gray, meteorologist in the CNN severe weather center. This is making this even more difficult.

JENNIFERY GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, and, you know, this part of the ocean is rough on a good day, so you can imagine these little storm systems that roll on through, it just adds insult to injury and it could make it very, very rough out there and, in fact, over the next 24 hours we are going to have another one of those fronts roll right on through that search area and it's going to bring in increasing cloud cover, it's going to bring increased winds as we go through the next day or so and we are also going to see rain. It's also going to make those seas even rougher as they go out there. The seas will be increasing, as well. This is Sunday, 6:30 local time. So, right around now, this is current conditions as we go through the next 12 to 24 hours. This is Monday at noon local time, which would be midnight over there. You can see cloud covering the area and rain. You say, well, it's midnight, it's nightfall, no searching is going on. But you have to remember leading up to these systems is when you get the increase in wind, you get the increase in cloud cover and none of this helps. And so, that's when the seas are going to be rough, as well. Another storm system rolls through, again, on Tuesday. And so, look at these winds as we go through the next 24 hours. We see winds anywhere from 40 to 50 miles per hour. And you can plan on gusts even higher than that, guys. And so, it is going to be a rough 24 to 48 hours over there making that search more difficult.

BLACKWELL: Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

PAUL: You know the thing is, this is such a collaborative effort and we've got - what it is 26 countries now.

BLACKWELL: 26 countries.

PAUL: From around the globe working side-by-side trying to solve the mystery of this flight. Next, we're going to take you inside one of the search planes as crews (INAUDIBLE) that Indian Ocean for those clues. You are going to see what they have got on their side.


BLACKWELL: Well, the breaking news this morning in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, French authorities today turned over new satellite images of potential objects. That's how they're describing them in the southern corridor search area. It's key location in the search for Flight 370.

PAUL: The French working alongside U.S. military units and a lot of other teams from around the globe to solve one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history. I heard somebody characterize this as the Amelia Earhart of our generation.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, so many questions, and CNN's Will Ripley had a chance to fly along in the U.S. Navy P-3 Orion to see what kinds of challenges search crews are up against.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The American crew of this P3 Orion is facing another grueling day, searching the massive Indian Ocean for Malaysian Airlines flight 370. Plane commander Lieutenant Erica Ross has to stay motivated, even as mission after mission turns up nothing. ERICA ROSS: We cleared that area of the ocean. So, we know it's not there and we can look somewhere else and focus our efforts on trying to find it somewhere else.

RIPLEY: This plane is their home for up to 12 hours a day. Living conditions are less than luxurious. So, the first thing you notice when you get on the plane is just how hot it is in here. About 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 35 or so Celsius.

The A.C. finally comes on when the doors close, soon the P-3 is ready for takeoff. The Malaysian coastline disappears in minutes, the ten-hour flight will take us south of Kuala Lumpur over the Indian Ocean. We'll cover 25,000 square nautical miles.

(on camera): That sounds like a lot, but put that in context with the size of this search area.

ROSS: Honestly, on a scale, it's a small percentage. That's what we can do.

RIPLEY (voice over): Even getting to our search area will take three and a half long hours. The 11-member crew takes turns sleeping in cramped corridors or even on the floor so everyone is ready to tackle the tedious task ahead.

We shut down one of the engines to conserve fuel then descend to as low as 300 feet, or just 91 meters above the water. And the search begins. Some look out the windows. Others watch the radar. It's sensitive enough to pick up dolphins, schools of fish or anything that emits heat.

ROSS: You know, sometimes you see debris and you want to think that it is something significant, then we come down and we look at it and you're just like, I guess that's trash that you would like it to be something else, you know.

RIPLEY: Look out the window. This is what you see.

(on camera): One of the things you notice as you do this for a while. You look out the window and your mind starts to play tricks on you. So, you think you might see some debris and then you realize it is just a white cap on a wave and, honestly, it's pretty disappointing because there's that part of your mind that just hopes that you're going to find something. And you just look out there and it's nothing.

(voice over): Low clouds cast a gray shadow on this endless ocean and you can't help but think about the plane and those 239 people. They're out there, somewhere, just not here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) get those people back and still maintaining hope.

RIPLEY: That hope and passion for the people on Flight 370 is what drives flight engineer Petty Officer Brandon Bronick (ph), even as the sun fades away and it's time to go home, again, empty handed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty stressful. We were all hoping that we'd find something.

RIPLEY: Another long, grueling search is over for today. A new mission begins tomorrow. Will Ripley, CNN, over the Indian Ocean.



BLACKWELL: More now on the breaking news this morning in the hunt for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

PAUL: Just last hour Malaysian officials confirming that they've received new images, this time from French satellites that could show potential objects, that's how they're characterizing it, and it's in that southern search corridor where they already are.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, just yesterday China also released the satellite image that could belong to the missing flight. That could be debris, but they just described it as suspicious floating objects. So, how could we go about figuring out if these small, grainy pictures are, in fact, leads? Or how can investigators do that? Here's aviation and government regulation correspondent Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some experts say the 74-foot object in this newly released satellite image from China is too big to be debris from the missing jet. Others say we could be looking at multiple pieces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are going to be actually intermingled with wire and other debris, so you may have a lot of smaller pieces mixed in, which might look like a larger piece from a satellite or the air.

MARSH: The size of the debris depends on how the plane hit the water, assuming it did. If it were going at a high rate of speed and made a nose dive, like Alaska Airlines Flight 261 did in 2000 when it crashed into the Pacific, there would be a shatter effect, breaking into thousands of small pieces. A mid-air explosion like TWA Flight 800 would produce larger pieces of debris and a wider debris field. A third scenario, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 tried to make a controlled landing in the Indian Ocean in 1996, the plane broke into large pieces. What sinks and what floats depends on the part of the plane and the material it's made of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the cabin furnishings, for example, are made out of variety of plastics, thermal plastics and some composite materials. Things like the overhead bins and the seat cushions, the cosmetic bulkheads all of those typically should still be floating.

MARSH: Metal pieces sink. The engines go straight to the bottom and the fuselage, too. In the crash of Air France 447, the tail of the plane was still floating. Experts say the tail of a 777 is made of composite material and it may still be floating, as well.

Well, depending on how long the search continues, some of the debris may become so water logged that eventually sinks. Other pieces may be cracked and filling with water, so they would eventually sink as well.