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Malaysia Confirms Worst Fears of MH370, With No Survivors.

Aired March 24, 2014 - 11:30   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. This morning, the country's prime minister for Malaysia confirming their worst fears. Here is what he said a short time ago.


NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: This evening, I was briefed from representatives from the U.K. accident investigation branch or AAIB. They informed me that Inmarsat, the U.K. company that provided the satellite data, which indicated northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data, using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort. They have been able to shed more light on MH370's flight path.

Based on the new analysis, you Inmarsat and the AAIB, have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth. This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is, therefore, with deep sadness, and regret, that I must inform you, that according to this new data, flight MH370, ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

We will be holding a press conference tomorrow with further details. In the meantime, we wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation. Malaysia Airlines have already spoken to the families of the passengers and crew to inform them of this development. For them, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this news must be harder still. I urge the media to respect their privacy and allow them the space they need at this very difficult time.


COOPER: The statement in Kuala Lumpur

It is important to note Malaysian officials citing British authorities and the company, Inmarsat, which analyzed and reanalyzed data closely. Family members met with airline representatives in Beijing. Some people were so overcome, they had to be wheeled out on gurneys.

While families cope, search efforts are ongoing. An Australian naval vessel is on its way to an isolated part of the southern Indian Ocean. We should point out it is 11:36 in Perth. Some objects an Australian plane did spot earlier in the day on Sunday. One is circular, the other rectangular. They could be connected to the crash. Hours before, Australian pilots made that discovery, a Chinese military plane reported seeing two relatively big floating objects along with many smaller ones. Then, a U.S. Navy, P-8, "Poseidon" aircraft, was not able to find those objects apparently spotted by the Chinese. Weather conditions fluctuating. We'll check in with Chad Myers to see what the conditions are over the next 12-24 hours.

I want to bring in Jim Clancy, who is in Kuala Lumpur for us this morning.

A very difficult day, the last several hours. The worst possible news for these families, Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the message from the prime minister was very clear, Anderson, as you said, it is a message that flight 370 is lost, with all 239 souls aboard. The attention will turn to the search in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean. At the same time, there will be parallel investigations. One investigation into what could have caused all of this. Malaysia is still in charge of that. There will also be many questions asked about the handling of this aircraft when it first went missing. The first 24-48 hours. Why the delays in announcing the plane was missing, why the delays in announcing that, indeed, within 90 minutes of takeoff, it was well on its way towards Indian Ocean. Richard quest mentioned earlier that it had to get up to cruising altitude again in order to travel that distance. CNN's sources here that first told us about this days before we heard it from the prime minister have told us now that that plane was last seen when it disappeared from military radar from Malaysia. It was climbing to 29,000 feet headed toward the Indian Ocean -- Anderson?

COOPER: Jim, when you think about it, really, for the first five days, the focus was on the Gulf of Thailand. Some of it, a little less than 300 feet deep. That's where all the resources were going for the search. We now know that was a complete waste.

CLANCY: Four days afterwards, CNN here in Kuala Lumpur announced the news that the plane had diverted, it had turned around. Malaysian officials had referred to a possible turn back. Military sources told us not only did it turn back, it went straight across the Malay peninsula, turned and went on through the Straits of Malacca and through the Andaman Sea. Clearly, Malaysian military were asleep at the switch, literally, either did not see the plane or did not react. Then, in the hours that followed, when Vietnamese air traffic control told the Malaysians, we don't have your plane. What was the reaction? How swift was it? There were some indications it was not until this plane was supposed to be rolling up to the gate in Beijing that an actual emergency call was issued. The families didn't find out that their loved ones were missing until they didn't arrive in Beijing. Fully after that, only an hour after that, did the news become public -- Anderson?

COOPER: Certainly, a lot of questions about the timing of all this.

Jim Clancy, I appreciate it. Live in Kuala Lumpur. We are going to take another short break. When we come back, I want to go to Kate Bolduan, in Perth, Australia, to focus on the search, what is happening right now, what assets are in place. It is 11:40 p.m. on Perth. What is going to happen at first light on Tuesday morning? We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

COOPER: The worst possible news given to the families of those on board flight 370. The families told all lives are lost on the flight. Malaysia's prime minister making an announcement saying that based on new information from British authorities and Inmarsat, satellite authorities, new analysis of data that has been out there, they are sure that the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean in an area not near any possible landing strips.

Kate Bolduan is monitoring in Perth, Australia, where it is 11:44 p.m.

Planes aren't flying now. What is going on?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course, they only want to fly during daylight hours. Because despite the fact that they have high- tech equipment, cameras, radar, everything on board these flights, they mostly rely on the very low-tech option of looking out the window. You need daylight to see that. We did hear within the last 30 minutes, an Australian P-3 landing because of the long time it takes to get back. Even before this press conference from the prime minister, Anderson, you could really get a sense that they are wrapping up that secured area, narrowing the search area and they have more and more aircraft ships heading to this area. Clearly, everybody has a picture that even though they didn't say it until the prime minister said it, the focus was here in the southern corridor.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It has been going on for a week. We started out with six planes going out and today 10 ships converging on the area. As more assets are thrown into it, they are seeing more and more debris fields found, up to two today.


BOLDUAN: That's the most we have seen.

STEVENS: The frustrating thing is that they find as spotted from the air and then they the locaters. They found objects that were gray cylindrical and orange rectangular. We have heard Richard Quest saying that could be some sort of airline debris. But even after the Royal Air Force put down flares, they haven't been able to find them. There has been a ship in the area for four hours looking for them before nightfall. So this task is still very much a huge challenge, isn't it?

BOLDUAN: It absolutely is, Anderson. As you well know, even though the prime minister had to make this unfortunate announcement that they believe they went down in the southern Indian Ocean, it is still a massive task of finding not only pieces of debris but finding all of the wreckage if it is here in the southern Indian Ocean. This is an ocean that is three miles deep in places and it is so vast. I was up in a plane with the New Zealand air force yesterday. We talk about it on air. When you get up there and you sit through the flight, you get a new understanding of just how vast and endless this area is. It is like nothing I have ever seen. It really shows just what a huge challenge all of these search teams have when they get up there to find any bit of debris -- Anderson?

COOPER: I want to bring in our Richard Quest.

We have talked about this before. The timing is of the essence to try to get as many pieces as possible. Even given today's news, we still do not know why this plane went down, exactly how it happened.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: We know nothing about why this plane went down. Let's be blunt about that. We know nothing about that, whatever supposition and we have heard. So the first pieces of debris that they find will give evidence of how the plane -- to put it bluntly, how the plane went in the water. What were the forces? What was the compression? What were the strains, the tearing, the ripping, all those sorts of things? Then, they will be looking for things like sooting that will give evidence of the fire, the intensity of any fire, an explosion. All these things they will be looking at. They are very experienced at looking at it. What they need to do first is to find the first one or two or three pieces of debris and work backwards to where the main debris field will be. 13, 14 days ago.

COOPER: They must already be doing that given that some debris has already allegedly been seen. I would imagine there are some people somewhere in an office of Perth trying to trying to triangulate where those pieces of debris have been spotted and what that might mean.

QUESTION: Absolutely. Those buoys that we saw being dropped earlier last week, from the Royal Air Force, you saw them being dropped out of the top of the plane. That was not to find pingers but to monitor the current and the nature of the wave action.

COOPER: All of which will be crucial --


QUEST: Because you are trying to work out where this stuff was 15 days ago, not where it is now.

COOPER: We are going to take another short break. Our coverage continues in just a minute.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

COOPER: New revelations on the fate of those aboard Malaysia flight 370.

I want to bring in Les Abend, Jeff Wise. Les is author of "Extreme Fear" and Jeff a 777 pilot.

Jeff, for the families, devastating news this morning. It does validate the focus investigators have put and searchers have put on that southern corridor, that southern area off the coast of Perth.

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST & 777 PILOT: Yeah, in a sense, it really only validates what had become the consensus view about the likely outcome of this flight. And it also, again, shows how key this Inmarsat data is. First gave the final arc where the plane was known to have wound up and then further analysis gave a likely route. And now this seems to have given us that final piece of the puzzle, which direction it headed.

COOPER: It also seems to confirm, Les, that this plane was flying for some six to seven hours from the time that it made that turn, which is an extraordinary -- it covered an extraordinary distance. We still don't know why, we still don't know how, or exactly what altitude it was flying or why it went in the water.

LES ABEND, FORMER PILOT & AUTHOR: It's true. But as devastating as this is for the families, and all of us here, really, this is a positive thing. From the standpoint of now we pinpoint this investigation a little further, and I think it could proceed as a normal investigation. But, you know, that being said, why did the airplane fly so long? No professional flight crew, obviously, would fly out in the middle of nowhere. And to me, the distance, at least what's being proposed, seems to me that it might have been an altitude as opposed to these conflicting reports of it descending --


COOPER: It would have to be at altitude via the fuel.

ABEND: The fuel consumption.

COOPER: It was flying very, very low, and would be eating more fuel.

ABEND: I would have to do math on that myself but, yeah, eating a lot of fuel. And doesn't seem to me it would get to such a distance at lower altitudes like that.

COOPER: The next step in trying to piece together this puzzle really is finding that first piece of debris.

WISE: Right. In a way, this doesn't move us closer to answering any mysteries. We have just reinforced the idea this is where we should be looking. I think this is actually going to put more pressure on the searchers to find something and really try to bring some closure. This is a brutal, brutal process for the people whose loved ones were on that plane and for all the world that's watching to go try to solve this mystery. When Air France 447, the case often likened to this one, they started finding the first bits of floating debris in days.

COOPER: Days when they started to find the big pieces.

WISE: Yeah. COOPER: And yet, it took two years for them to find the data recorders.

WISE: Right. And that was a much easier job compared to the amount of drift that we're going to have to deal with.


COOPER: They also had clearer ACARS signals. They had a number of ACARS signals that flight had been in trouble.

WISE: There was data transmitted by the ACARS. Here we only had the fact that the ACARS system existed, the Inmarsat, satellite communications. There we had a number of messages giving clues to what had gone wrong and where the plane was located. None of that in this case.

COOPER: Is this the most complex investigation in terms of air history, do you think?

WISE: Well, I mean, back in the old en days, like Amelia Earhart, things would disappear off into the void. In terms of modern investigations, the degree of absolute mystery and so hard to come up with a theory that makes any sense.

COOPER: Jeff, appreciate you being with us.

Les, as well.

You'll both be here throughout the day.

Ashleigh Banfield and John Berman are next with breaking news right after this break. I'll be on "A.C. 360" tonight at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m.