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EARLY START

Flight 370 Passengers Declared Lost; Washington State Mudslide Claims Dozens of Victims, Numerous Fatalities; Malaysian Officials Hold Press Conference

Aired March 25, 2014 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Lost and presumed crashed. The Malaysian government says Flight 370 went down in the Indian Ocean and there were no survivors. But today, bad weather has put the search on hold as anger from the families of those on board is growing. They want tangible proof. We are live with the latest and the desperate pleas for answers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And here in Washington State, a grim search northeast of Seattle, where the number of missing in a catastrophic landslide, that number growing this morning, 176 people now unaccounted for, and the death toll, that has climbed, too, 14 dead in that massive landslide. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

FEYERICK: And I'm Deborah Feyerick. It is 32 minutes past the hour.

And we start with a ferocious storm in the south Indian Ocean suspending the search for Flight 370. Pilots are hoping to get back in the air by tomorrow. Right now, it is so dangerous, it's simply not safe to fly. There are gale force winds that's stirring up monster waves in the search area.

Waiting family members are overcome by grief and anger after being told that all 239 lives on board the missing jetliner are lost. Let's bring in Jim Clancy live from Kuala Lumpur.

Jim, with the search suspended, at least for the time being, are we expected to hear anything further?

Are the Malaysian officials going to defend their actions with respect to some of the family members who are just simply so unhappy with the way it's been handled?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are very sensitive about that. You know, the debates on should have made this announcement or not, and their prime minister telling his lawmakers here in Malaysia, look, I didn't want it to appear at all like we're trying to hide anything. That's why they decided to go ahead.

We understand on background that what they really wanted to do was have some tangible evidence of the plane found off the waters of Perth and bring that to the families together with this new data, but they were afraid that the media was going to break it first.

We heard not only from the prime minister a little bit today, but we also heard from the CEO of Malaysia Airlines, who talked about the tragedy in his view.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHAMAD JAUHARI YANYA, CEO, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: We all feel enormous sorrow and pain. Sorrow that all those who boarded Flight MH370 on Saturday, 8th march, will not see their families again. And those families will now have to live -- they have to live on without their loved ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Remember, the Chinese made up the majority of those who were on board that aircraft, but there was a lot of Malaysian families as well, and Malaysian Airlines' own family, its 12 crew and pilots on board that plane lost as well. Their family's suffering, too, at this hour.

We're waiting to hear a press briefing coming up here in just a couple of minutes, we think, that should shed some more light, perhaps, on that decision to make the announcement, perhaps give us more details. We don't know yet specifically if it was able to pinpoint where they should be looking for this aircraft.

That is going to be extremely important, Deborah, even to narrow down that vast search area, very important. Back to you.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. And with winter setting in, obviously, it's just going to be so difficult with the drifts moving that debris. So promising and yet so far. Jim Clancy for us, thanks so much.

ROMANS: And those 5:30 am Eastern Time press briefings have become routine in the last couple of weeks. When that happens, again, we will bring that to you. We will monitor it and bring it to you if events warrant.

For many Flight 370 family members in China, there is growing anger a day after the announcement that their loved ones are lost. They marched on the Malaysian embassy this morning to make their voices heard, a scene that is quite rare in China, a country that is very capable of keeping public displays of opinion under wraps.

Pauline Chiou is in Beijing for us this morning.

These families very, very unhappy, these families marching to the Malaysian embassy, even though the Chinese government won't allow them to board their buses.

Tell us, what's driving them? What do they want? What are the questions that they are still asking?

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big question is what information do you have, what proof do you have? They understand that the satellite data indicates the plane has gone down, but they want something more concrete, Deb. They want to see something like a seat cushion or markings from the flight or a piece of luggage or something like that.

So, that's why they were so angry. Before I show you the video of the protesting this morning, I just want to show you some activity going on behind me here at the Lido Hotel. The families have been meeting with the Malaysian ambassador as well as Chinese government officials. It looks like that meeting has just ended, so you see that media scrum there.

I haven't seen what official they're talking to, but I can tell you from monitoring social media here, the Malaysian ambassador to China really got some verbal abuse in this meeting from the Chinese relatives here. So, we haven't been allowed into that meeting, but we have been monitoring it from the equivalent of Twitter here in China, Sina Weibo.

Let me bring you to what happened earlier this morning. Now, the families were so angry with the way this message was delivered and with what they consider a very unsatisfactory explanation. They decided to protest in front of the Malaysian embassy because they are tired of the delays, the denials and contradictions in what they believe has been a very bungled search.

In fact, one woman had said to me a couple of days ago, the search has gone so badly that they've wasted time, and they may have wasted our loved ones' lives -- Deb.

ROMANS: Wow. Pauline, thank you.

FEYERICK: So difficult. And you know, not only that, it's about 154 -- families of 154 people on board the plane, and that's really the families that are just most upset.

Well, just when search teams appear to be on the verge of finding Flight 370, the mission had to be suspended. A storm in the south Indian Ocean making it simply too dangerous to fly. Pilots now anxiously waiting to get back to the area, because they saw something very promising. It's an area where they believe Flight 370 went down.

Andrew Stevens is monitoring developments in Perth, Australia, this morning. It's got to be tough. It's got to be tough. You see something, and then all of a sudden, the weather and the waves sort of snatch it away.

ROMANS: He's got a wind gust there where he is. We've had some trouble with Andrew being able to hear us. We're going to try to get that connection up and running, but he has been monitoring from Perth what is now a stalled search, because the ships on the ground, the planes in the air, at least for today, they're going to have to call off that search for actual, any debris from the flight. And that's something that those families really want. They really want to see, they want something tangible.

FEYERICK: Right. ROMANS: They want a suitcase, they want a seat cushion. They want to be able to tie what's going on out there in the ocean to what happened to their loved ones.

FEYERICK: Something concrete. And it's one thing to say, we want -- you know, they want information, but now they've got some information and now they want proof. So, it goes in stages.

ROMANS: We'll check in with Andrew again later.

FEYERICK: Yes, and there's a grim update from the scene of that deadly landslide northeast of Seattle, 14 people now confirmed dead, as many as 176 are missing. Authorities say that the death toll will almost certainly rise.

Saturday's one-square-mile slide wiping out 30 homes, completely coming down that mountain. Over 100 emergency responders now canvassing the scene with search dogs and heavy equipment.

Nichole Webb Rivera's parents were right where this landslide happened. Her daughter and her daughter's fiance were visiting when the ground gave way. She tells Anderson Cooper that she has not heard from them since that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLE WEBB RIVERA, DAUGHTER OF MISSING PARENTS: All of us who are waiting for word on our family members know each other, we know the other family members that are missing. It's such beyond the scope of my four missing family members that it's just -- it's grief for our whole town. So, just pray for our town, please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Heartwrenching. In some places, the mud is 15 feet deep. Flooding now a big problem, because debris from the slide is jamming up the north fork of one of the main rivers there. Water spilling over banks and into homes.

We are awaiting a live news conference from Kuala Lumpur with the latest on the missing jet. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: We're waiting for a news conference live from Malaysian officials that's going to begin any moment. And when it does, we're going to take you there. Meanwhile, the search for Flight 370 on hold this morning because of a violent storm in the southern Indian Ocean. Family members of the 239 people on board grieving and angry one day after being notified that their loved ones are gone.

Key questions remain unanswered -- what went wrong on the missing jetliner, and where is the wreckage?

Well, let's bring in CNN aviation analyst Mark Weiss, a former American Airlines pilot, who is now a security consultant, he is from Washington this morning.

Mark, thanks for joining us.

MARK WEISS, FORMER AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOT: Good morning.

FEYERICK: First question, you've got this last ping that was heard in the area in the Indian Ocean. How reliable is that final ping?

And also -- actually, Mark, wait one moment. We're going to get to that press conference.

ROMANS: Yes, this press conference is every morning at 5:30 Eastern we've had this press conference. Let's listen to what Malaysian authorities are saying and then we'll get back to Mark Weiss on the other side. Let's just listen.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Director General Jabatan Penerbangan Awam, civil aviation. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive of (INAUDIBLE) airline system, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, inspector general of police, Royal Malaysian police force.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the media, to start the press conference this evening, I hereby call upon Hishammuddin Hussein, acting minister of transport, to deliver his statement.

Sir, if you please do us the honor.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, MALAYSIA: (INAUDIBLE). As the search for MH370 continues, we remain focused on narrowing the search area. With such strong cooperation from our international partners, the challenge is no longer diplomatic. It is now primarily technical and logistical.

Because the scale of the investigation is now much more complex, the release of technical and logistical information will be handled differently. As you have seen today, this means that Malaysian Airlines will take the lead in communicating with the families.

As the search area has narrowed, new challenges have risen, including managing resources in the remote search-and-rescue effort, and we continue to work closely with our friends and partners as we seek to marshal more specific resources in support of the operations in that area.

Last night, the prime minister announced that according to new analysis of satellite data, Inmarsat and U.K. air accidents investigations branch, AIVB, have concluded that flight MH370 have ended in the southern Indian Ocean. Today I will provide further details and how the data was analyzed as provided by us, by U.K. AIVB.

This information is quite technical in nature, so although I will give you as much information as I can, I will not be in a position to answer questions about the data analysis today. We will be providing this information as a press release at the end of this press conference, and this is the info provided to us by AIVB. We will accept written questions which will be answered as soon as possible.

In recent days, Inmarsat developed a second innovative technique which considers the velocity of the aircraft relative to the satellite. Depending on this relative movement, the frequency received and transmitted will differ from its normal value in much the same way that the sound of a passing car changes as it approaches and passes by. This is called the Doppler effect.

The Inmarsat technique analyzes the difference between frequency that a ground station expects to receive and one that is actually measured. This difference is the result of the Doppler effect and is known as diverse frequency offset.

Diverse frequency offset changes depending on the location of the aircraft on an arc of possible positions, its direction of travel and its speed. In order to establish confidence in this theory, Inmarsat checked its predictions using information obtained from six other B- 777 aircraft flying on the same day in various directions. There was good agreement.

While on the ground at Kuala Lumpur airport and during the early stage of the flight, MH370 transmitted several messages. At this stage, the location of the aircraft and the satellite were known, so it was possible to calculate system characteristics for the aircraft satellite and the ground station.

During the flight, the ground station logged the transmitter and received pulse frequency at each handshake. Knowing the system characteristics and position of the satellite, it was possible considering aircraft performance to determine where on each arc the calculated burst frequency offset fits best.

The analysis showed poor correlation with the northern corridor but good correlation with the southern corridor. And depending on the ground speed of the aircraft, it was then possible to estimate the position at 0011 UTC, at which the last complete handshake took place. I must emphasize that this is not the final position of the aircraft.

There is evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and the ground station at 0019 UTC. At this time, this transmission is not understood and subject to further ongoing work. No response was received from the aircraft at 0115 UTC, when the ground earth station sent the next logon-logoff message. This indicates that the aircraft was no longer logged on to the network.

Therefore, sometime between 0011 UTC and 0115 UTC, the aircraft was no longer able to communicate with the ground station. This is consistent with the maximum endurance of the aircraft. This analysis by Inmarsat forms the basis for further study to attempt to determine the final position of the aircraft.

Accordingly, the Malaysian investigation has set up an international working group comprising of agencies with expertise in satellite communication and aircraft performance to take this work forward.

The new analysis I have described was convincing enough for the AIVB to brief the prime minister that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.

Within a few hours, the families had been informed and the prime minister announced a new development to the world. As the prime minister stated, this type of analysis has never been done in an investigation of this sort. There remains more work to be done and we are grateful to Inmarsat, AIVB and the international investigation team who are continuing to work with the Malaysian authorities.

This is a developing situation, and as soon as we know more, we will share it.

Operational updates: as a result of this new data analysis, the search-and-rescue operation in the northern corridor has been called off. We have also stopped the search-and-rescue operation in the northern part of the southern corridor close to Indonesia.

All search efforts are now focused in the southern part of the southern corridor, in an area covering some 469,407 square nautical miles, and this is as against 2.24 million square nautical miles which was announced on 18th of March.

We are currently working to further narrow down the search area using the four methods I mentioned previously, which is to gather information from satellite surveillance, analysis of the surveillance radar data, increasing air and surface assets, and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts.

On the assets deployed, two Korean aircraft left Subai (ph) Airport for Perth this morning to help the multinational search operation. No flights from Perth to the search area took place today due to bad weather.

Six Chinese ships are currently in the search area. They are expected to arrive within the vicinity of MH370's last known position by tomorrow morning. This ship includes the icebreaker Zulan. HMAS Success is also currently in the search area.

The American towed pinger locator, an instrument that can help find a black box, is currently on route to Perth and will arrive tomorrow. The system will be fitted into the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which is due to dock in Perth on the 28th of March. The Ocean Shield is fitted with a towed pinger locator is due to arrive in the search area on the 5th of April.

Ladies and gentlemen, the new analysis shared with investigation by Inmarsat and the AIVB has focused our efforts on the southern part of the southern corridor.

Although yesterday's news was incredibly hard for the family members, as our prime minister said, it was released out of a commitment to openness and respect for the relatives, two principles which have guided us in our investigations. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, ladies and gentlemen, the floor is now open for question-and-answer session. We will start with the local media first and then to (INAUDIBLE) international media. OK, I will have it from the third row, please.

QUESTION: Based on --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, your name and establishment.

QUESTION: My name is Christine and I'm from the SAR (ph). Based on the announce we hear earlier, there was report that there were credible evidence that all lives were lost. (INAUDIBLE) credible evidences. Apart from the (INAUDIBLE), going to put any money to resupport to the family members of passengers? And the last question is how much is the flight insured for and how will it (INAUDIBLE) this tragedy? Thank you.

HUSSEIN: First and foremost, the flight's last known position, I call it general location, is in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean. It carries very little fuel by then, and if it were to fly onwards, there is no land mass nearby. So, (INAUDIBLE) I suppose we can conclude it must have been down in the water.

And that area is very remote, and we are talking about 17, 18 days we -- you know, yesterday was 17 days, 18 days, for anyone to survive that long is extremely, extremely remote.

As far as the cover here, we do have a general cover, and obviously it is something that we're working with insurance right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, next questions.

(INAUDIBLE). Thank you.

Please, could you stand up?

QUESTION: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

(END LIVE FEED)

FEYERICK: So, there you heard the Malaysian prime minister basically saying that they were able to determine the direction of travel, the speed of travel, that they had the last complete ping, the last handshake at about 0011 universal time, and then there was a partial ping. After that, nothing.

ROMANS: We do know that there are no flights from Perth to the search area today. They're trying to -- because of bad weather. They're trying to narrow that search area. Also learning that these are now technical and logistical challenges.

They want to make clear that diplomatically, a lot of countries involved but now it's down to technical and logistical challenges.

We're going to take a quick break and we'll be back. NEW DAY will be back right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. I'm Michaela Pereira with John Berman in for Chris Cuomo. We would like to welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world. We begin NEW DAY with breaking news in the search for Flight 370.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Malaysian officials have been giving a news conference over the last several minutes, updating the search for Flight 370. And the news is this, the search has been called off for today because of bad weather in the search areas. There are no planes flying; there are no boats in the vicinity of where they believe that wreckage is at this point.

You're looking at the Malaysian defense minister right now. He again going over how they have come to the conclusion that Flight 370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean, laying out the case again for reanalyzing that Inmarsat satellite data, explaining why they now think the plane flight ended in the area that's about 400,000-500,000 square nautical miles off the coast of Perth, Australia.

And that's where we're going to go to right now. Our Kate Bolduan is live in Perth, Australia. She has been covering every angle of the search over the last several days -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, John. Good morning, everybody, coming to you live from Perth, Australia, as John says.