Return to Transcripts main page


Coverage of Malaysia Airlines 370 Continues; Deadly Mud-slide Near Seattle

Aired March 24, 2014 - 06:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

I'm Kate Bolduan, joining you from Perth, Australia, this morning. Let's get you up to date on the big breaking developments overnight in the search for Flight 370. It has been 17 days since the Boeing 777 vanished with 239 people on board.

Overnight, Australian and Chinese pilots separately spotted objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean. Within hours we could find out if at least some of those objects came from the missing jetliner. They could be in the possession of people here in Australia.

The search area is one of the most remote places on the planet and it is vast. To say it's like searching for a needle in the haystack would be kind. I had the chance to fly with the team from the Royal New Zealand Air Force to find out firsthand what it's like to be part of this historic mission.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The job of searching for Flight 370 from the air, such a challenge, it requires multiple planes from multiple countries. Sunday the U.S., Australia, China and New Zealand all joined in the search. We're about to jump on New Zealand's P-3 Orion to see the search for ourselves.

A smooth takeoff in blue skies ahead as the P-3 climbs to 23,000 feet and cruises to the search zone some 1,300 miles from Perth. This is one of eight flights heading out Sunday. On board a 12-person crew and three journalists, including me with a small hand-held camera.

We've now reached the search area, four hours in. Sitting through the flight, you truly begin to understand just how remote this area is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be descending down to ideally around about 500 feet for the visual search. However, if required we will go down to 200 feet.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Weather conditions out here change in a split second. One moment almost zero visibility. The next, the fog vanishes and it's clear for miles. Either way ocean as far as the eye can see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully today will be the day that we find something. BOLDUAN (voice-over): They use high tech radar and special cameras to search the ocean's surface, but it comes down to something very low- tech, simply looking out the window that New Zealand's Number 5 squadron relies on most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually do about half an hour to an hour at a time. So it's quite fatiguing on the eyes plus fatiguing on the body and we change over quite regularly.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): I even take a turn looking for signs of anything unusual, scanning the water, afraid to blink, thinking I might miss that one clue and then the waves start playing tricks on your eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Estimate area complete.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): After a four-hour search covering nearly 930 square miles, the light begins to fade and with it the optimism that this would be the day that Number 5 squadron would solve the mystery of Flight 370's fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately we didn't find anything. It is quite disappointing that we didn't. We want to be out there helping.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): The return flight three hours to base, making it a 10.5-hour journey, one more expedition ending with no sign of the plane but that won't stop them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll try again next time, try again tomorrow.


BOLDUAN: Let me put this in perspective for you again. On that flight, we covered around 930 square miles during our search flight. Sunday's search by eight planes total covered something around 23,000 square miles and that in and of itself is just a tiny sliver of the total search area that Malaysian authorities have highlighted in this southern corridor.

But we are seeing now overnight that it seems the search area is narrowing a bit as we have got news of potential objects that are being uncovered. I want to thank New Zealand for letting me jump on that flight. It was quite an experience.

Let's get to Christine Romans now in New York for some of today's other top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you, Kate.

President Obama taking part in a nuclear summit with other world leaders in the Netherlands at The Hague today. But leaders of major powers will also hold emergency G7 talks as Russia tightens its military grip on Crimea.

Overnight Russian troops stormed and seized a Ukrainian naval base on the peninsula; between 60 and 80 Ukrainian troops were captured. This after pro-Russian forces seized an air force base on Saturday, taking a top commander into custody.

Tensions are mounting between Turkey and Syria after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane when it strayed across the border Sunday. Turkish armed forces say a warning had been issued numerous times about approaching the airspace. Syrian state media says the plane was over northern Syria at the time. It accused Turkey of latent aggression.

New York City planning to move the remains of unidentified victims of the 2001 terror attacks to a repository at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The remains are currently in the custody of the medical examiner, but will be moved to that museum later this year.

The museum says the decision to house the remains comes after overwhelming feedback received from the families. The repository will not be open to the public.

A man who personified the Boston Strong mantra after the marathon bombing is going to be a father. Jeff Bowman was near the finish line waiting for his girlfriend to complete the race when that explosion happened. He lost both of his legs, but helped investigators ID Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a suspect. Well, Jeff's girlfriend is now his fiancee. They're expecting a baby this summer. They plan to get married next year. And we wish him and his new budding family all the best.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: You can't help but just smile. You're smiling as you read this (INAUDIBLE) terrific story of survival, overcoming tremendous odds. Oh, what a great story.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: As we say in Boston, it's awesome, wicked awesome. Love to see that.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's talk about weather because we are full into spring, my friends. But it sure doesn't feel like it in parts of the East. Jennifer Gray is here, in for Indra Petersons, keeping a check of our forecast.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's spring, it doesn't feel like it now. It really not going to feel like it in the next couple of days. We have a possible major storm system rolling through. It's going to be here in the Tuesday night into Wednesday time frame, some very cold air is going to filter in across much of the Southeast, the East Coast, the Northeast bringing extremely windy conditions to places like Boston and possible heavy snow to areas even New York City, Boston, up into Maine.

We're watching two different forecast models and they don't agree at all, which is something we're used to. Hopefully they'll come together in the next 24 hours. The American model showing about half an inch of snow in New York City, an inch and a half in Boston. Look at scenario number two, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boo! GRAY: Yes. We're talking about 4.5 inches of snow in New York, 11 inches in Boston and there have even been talks of blizzard-like conditions around the Cape. So this is something we're going to be watching very, very closely.

Also we're watching those temperatures. It is barely going to get to freezing in places like Chicago -- yes, yes, I know. Blame it on me.

PEREIRA: No, Indra couldn't face us today so she sent you with this bad news.

GRAY: I know. All the bad news, yes, this week and then it will try to moderate by the weekend but, yes, it's not good at all.

PEREIRA: Wow, (INAUDIBLE), I choose the American model.

BERMAN: Yes, the European model sucks.

GRAY: We all vote for the American model.

PEREIRA: OK. We're going to go with that.


PEREIRA: Good to have you with us, Jennifer.

BERMAN: Next up on NEW DAY, the search for Flight 370: could objects found in the Indian Ocean could be the debris from the plane? We're live in Kuala Lumpur in just a moment.

PEREIRA: Meanwhile, rescuers are frantically searching for survivors after an enormous mud-slide hits Washington State. The question is, could there be people trapped in that mud and still alive? We're going to take you to the dramatic scene next.



PEREIRA: New this morning, back to our top story on Flight 370. We understand that Australian search planes have discovered two pieces of debris floating in the Indian Ocean in their search area, one rectangular, one round. This is a big new development this morning. These discoveries coming very early to us here at CNN.

I want to get to Jim Clancy, who is taking a look at the investigative side of this.

We know, Jim, you've been following this story from the very beginning. They certainly are attaching a whole lot of hope to these discoveries.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are, because when they look at it, they know they have to have the evidence. I can tell you what's very clear from watching that press briefing, at one point when asked about terrorism and what was the most likely plot and all of that, he replied we're not going to give away everything. They're not going to give away anything. They're not going to tell us where they think the investigation is going until and unless they have the information from those flight data recorders.

They want the positive proof. What does that mean?

It could mean they're playing things the smart way and that is don't bet on any of these theories that are out there. Remember, that's all they are, Michaela, theories. Until there's some evidence. But certainly the U.S. investigators are focusing more on the pilots. They just think it's a conspiracy -- or rather, I should say that it's a coincidence too far to have this plane disappear the way that it did, to go on and maneuver, to go and fly six hours.

They're looking at it from that perspective. But if they have any evidence, they're not sharing it with us either. So that leaves us in a blind spot right now.

From the outside it appears there's no progress in the investigation, no change. That may not be true. We're just not hearing about it -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: That's actually a very interesting point, Jim. And of course now we're going to be waiting to see if the HMAS Success, the-- we know it's an Australian naval ship that's in the area, if it can get to that area where the debris was spotted and wait for that information to make it back to us.

We appreciate you being there in Australia and letting us know of that. We're going to return to our search for the Flight 370 in a moment.

But we are also following another really big story here stateside. Search crews in Washington State are frantically trying to find more survivors this morning. Over the weekend -- look at your TV right now. Huge mud-slide, buried almost an entire neighborhood, about an hour outside of Seattle.

Crews so far have found eight bodies. They believe there are almost a dozen people or even more than a dozen people still missing. CNN's George Howell has the very latest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The devastation, of course, is overwhelming.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Officials call the search mission in Snohomish County, Washington, aggressive. Helicopters equipped with heat-sensing technology scan fields of debris for any sign of people still trapped underneath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no sign of life. The only thing that I can report is that we found one deceased victim.

HOWELL (voice-over): The side of this hill came crashing down on the small town of Oso Saturday morning, burying State Road 530. These before and after photos of the area captured the incredible scope of the devastation.


HOWELL (voice-over): This cellphone video was shot from the ground right after the hillside swollen by recent heavy rains gave way, covering an area of land about a square mile wide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's slid a couple times in my life and -- but never nothing like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total devastation. And it's just unbelievable.

HOWELL (voice-over): Officials say the moving slurry like quicksand made Sunday's rescue efforts on foot far too dangerous. Those who were saved had to be airlifted to safety as the active rescue continues. Many families are still left with uncertainty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can imagine the devastation of worrying about their family members. But we are in an active rescue effort right now.

HOWELL (voice-over): Caroline Neal's (ph) 52-year-old father, Steven (ph), is among the missing.

CAROLINE NEAL (PH), FATHER MISSING: We just have to think that he's somewhere and he's safe.

HOWELL (voice-over): Sixteen homes were damaged, at least six destroyed, one of them you see here cemented in mud -- George Howell, CNN, Arlington, Washington.


PEREIRA: Again, the challenge is they can't get to some of the areas; the searchers themselves are even facing precarious decisions about whether they go in. They're up to their armpits in mud in some areas. They can hear people or they think they can hear people or at least they heard some sounds last night.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) the consistency of quicksand right now, doing all their searching from helicopters right now. Let's hope they can get in there.

Next up on NEW DAY, 370's data recorder will only continue emitting a locator ping for another two weeks. Time is running out. We will discuss this race just ahead.



BERMAN: All right. Welcome back. We'll return to the important new developments in the search for Flight 370 in just a moment but first, it's "Money Time" with chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here with that. ROMANS: Monday "Money Time." A new study in "The Wall Street Journal" this morning, guys, shows mortgage tax credits may be helping the rich buy bigger houses. Tax credits tied to mortgages is supposed to encourage home ownership. But the study by a right-leaning think tank showed high-income homeowners and suburban residents, they are the ones who see the bigger savings.

"The Wall Street Journal" also reported this morning that Apple is in talks with Comcast. Apple has been trying to break into the TV market, as you know, for many years. (INAUDIBLE) a lot of details of course to hammer out. A cable deal would help Apple avoid viewing problems tied to slow Internet.

Now, the maker of Candy Crush going public this week. This is one of 14, count them, 14 IPOs debuting this week. Investor appetite for new offerings is (INAUDIBLE) seen as the sign of a healthy market. This year could see the most IPOs since the tech boom in 2014. There you go.

BERMAN: I just hope it doesn't lead to a Candy crash.


PEREIRA: All the difference one letter makes.

BERMAN: All right, Christine. Thank you for that. (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: All right. Back to our coverage of the search for Flight 370. Overnight Australian and Chinese search crews separately found objects in the Indian Ocean. They could find out within hours if it's debris from the plane.

So of course it is now race against time to find the plane's flight data recorder. It will only continue emitting a locator ping for about two more weeks and that data is crucial for uncovering answers as to what exactly happened on board.

Joining us now, CNN aviation analyst and aviation journalist for Jeff Wise. You've had a busy weekend. We're so glad you could join us again this morning.

So again, we know that the efforts are now under way to get to the area where these Australian planes found some debris floating to identify if they were from the flight. Putting that aside for a second, what they really need is this, the flight data recorder.

JEFF WISE, SLATE.COM: That's right.

PEREIRA: Now, they're trying to bring in these hydrophone devices. Give us an idea of how those work and what information they can help us with.

WISE: Well, we're still one step away from getting to the hydrophones, as I'll explain. But you're right, Michaela, this is the Holy Grail; this is the box that has the answers we're looking for. It's literally bomb-proof. This is a tough, hardened piece of equipment, it can withstand impact of 300 miles an hour, it can withstand pressures up to 20,000 feet deep in the ocean but it's limited. It is certified to emit acoustic pings.

PEREIRA: In fact, since we have them, I want -- ping, you think in your head, it's going to sound one. But I think we have the actual pings that we can hear and play for you so can you get an idea of what it would sound like using a device that would amplify it.


PEREIRA: Right. Let's listen.

WISE: It sounds like a clock.

PEREIRA: It sounds more like clicking or ticking. A ping almost seems like the wrong thing. But this would not be heard from my own ear. The human ear would not be able to --


WISE: It's designed and intended to be picked up by this listening equipment that can detect it from distances up to two miles, which sounds like it's pretty far. But when you're dealing with the vastness of the ocean --



WISE: -- it's a long, long way. So, but as we mentioned, what they're doing right now, they're just trying to find debris. Once they find debris, then they'll be able to hopefully work backwards, calculate how the drifting currents would have carried it, work back to the location where the plane went down, presumably the wreckage would be, if it's in the ocean. We don't even know it's in the ocean for sure. We have got so many uncertainties in this very strange and unusual case.

PEREIRA: So again, this has 30 days' battery life, we've talked about this, and thus the race against time. We've got about two weeks left?

WISE: If we're lucky it has 30 days.

PEREIRA: Oh. Explain why.

WISE: In a very similar case in many regards, Air France 447 in 2009 also went down over an ocean in the middle of the night. In that case, it was the Atlantic. They used similar listening devices to try -- they had a much better idea of where their plane might be and they used these hydrophones to search the area for the ping.

They didn't find it. It turned out that the pinger malfunctioned. They were able ultimately to find the data anyway and to record it. And that's how we were able to solve that case pretty definitively, but it took two years because the pinger wasn't working.

PEREIRA: OK. So if this pinger is not working or something else happens and we can't find this, we're at a big disadvantage.

WISE: If we can't ever find this black box, I mean, there might be some other ways to find, there might be some human intelligence, there might be somebody on the ground who someday will come forward and explain what happened, but this is really our best bet. This is where we're really pinning most of our hopes on. If we can't find this, it's going to be a lot harder.

PEREIRA: Speaking of pinning most of our hopes, we're pinning them on the southern corridor. And it seems as though we've netted some results, we don't know definitively if they're related to the plane or not.

So but let's talk about the northern corridor. That would involve land. How would this do on land? You said that this thing is sort of indestructible.

WISE: Well, they have been destroyed by fire and so forth. But they're designed to withstand fires of a certain time and a certain temperature. They're not magic. They do get destroyed. I mean, you can imagine an aircraft that could be traveling upwards of 500 miles per hour crashing into hard ground; it's a very traumatic event.

But if this, you know, in most cases, even so, these are able to survive and we're able to get data off it. So land or sea, if there was a crash, we don't even know that there was a crash at this point, we know nothing about what happened to this airplane.

PEREIRA: And, again, it takes -- it's full circle, right? We know nothing about this airplane thus we need this. But until we have this, we don't know anything about what happened to the airplane.

WISE: It's a tough nut to crack.

PEREIRA: It really is. Jeff Wise, thank you, always a delight to have you here with us. You'll stick around today, I'm sure, here on CNN.


BERMAN: All right. The search for Flight 370, lots of developments breaking this morning. Let's get to our top story.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few minutes ago an Australian search aircraft had located two objects.

BOLDUAN: Sitting through the flight, you truly begin to understand just how remote this area is.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If there was a high dive like this, either it was malfunction, a bomb or somebody commandeered it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like this was the action of a crew facing some sort of emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Over the weekend impatience turned into anger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to know what happened!


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Michaela Pereira alongside John Berman, in for Chris Cuomo. Good to have you. We want to welcome our viewers from right here in the United States and all around the globe. We have breaking news this morning in the search for Flight 370.

BERMAN: Yes, it's some big important developments. Pilots from Australia and China each report spotting objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean, Kate Bolduan is tracking it all from search headquarters in Perth, Australia. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Good morning, all. The two sightings came just hours apart. Australian pilots spotting two objects, one round and one rectangular, then China's pilots also saw two objects, both white and rectangular in the same general search area.

Australian authorities report it could be just about a matter of hours before we know for sure if the debris -- that it could be a matter of hours before they have the debris in hand and then of course it's a question when will we know if this debris is part of that missing jetliner.

We're also learning more about what might have gone down in the cockpit of Flight 370. A source close to the investigation telling CNN the jetliner descended to just 12,000 feet after making that now infamous sharp left turn. A lot to talk about. A lot happening overnight. So let's discuss this with Andrew Stevens.

He has been here in Perth really when the investigation turned here to where we are is Pearce Air Force Base. These planes have been taking off and landing just behind us in that building, (INAUDIBLE). You've been here so much. What do you take from these new sightings? These seem more significant, I think, than some of the leads that we've had in previous days.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think we have to be careful, Kate, about putting too much emphasis on this, given the fact that there is still nothing concrete. We are still talking about objects. What we know is a low-flying Australian Royal Air Force jet plane picked up perhaps five objects visually, which is so important now, and reporting it. What's critical now is that there is an Australian warship in a vicinity; within hours, we could actually know, we could have solved this riddle. We could know that those objects are actually related.

On the other hand, of course, they may be another false lead. We've had so many. But it's all tying in to sort of a theme, if you like. We're seeing more planes in the air, more sightings on a more regular basis. Obviously there is something down there. We have to caution also this part of the world collects so much rubbish anyway. So until we actually get their eyes on, we won't know.

BOLDUAN: They are taking it seriously, though. The pool reporter, the reporter that was up in the video camera that was up in that plane came back and was reporting that they did drop flares in the general vicinity because obviously they need to note somewhere for the HMAS Success, the ship, to go to, to try to spot it.

The Chinese plane, they spotted objects as well, but this is separate. These are not the same objects.

STEVENS: That's right. So the Chinese plane saw visually at 33,000 feet, which is high --

BOLDUAN: Very high.

STEVENS: But they saw two objects they described of a relatively big size and several white objects, small objects, around them.