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Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: No Survivors; Search Impeded by Climate; Old Technology, New Technique from Inmarsat; Families Need Support During Times of Grief; Port of Houston Cleans Up Spill

Aired March 25, 2014 - 06:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY everyone. I'm coming to you live from Perth, Australia, the heart of this search effort here at Pearce Air Force Base, as we cover the difficult and very dangerous search for Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean.

Right now, it's all on hold because of very rough weather. Gale force winds, heavy rains and low cloud cover have sidelined search crews. And this morning an Australian officials described the search as not just looking for a needle in a haystack, he says they have yet to find the haystack. That tells you something. I spoke exclusively one-on- one with Australia's defense minister and vice chief of defense about the search. Take a look.


BOLDUAN: I think the most important thing is what's the message to families who wait with bated breath for any answer of where this debris is and what happened to the plane?

DAVID JOHNSTON, AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE MINISTER: With respect to the families, all I can say is how tragic this whole mystery has been for them. The emotional roller coaster they have been on. I know my prime minister and myself are very, very concerned to not give false expectations. We are doing everything we can. The first thing we want to do is extract some wreckage if there is any from the surface of the ocean down there, 2.5 thousand kilometers from Perth, and identify it as being part of the aircraft. That is the first threshold issue that we are focused upon.

BOLDUAN: And you're not comfortable enough yet to say you believe this is debris from the plane? You're just looking for that debris that was spotted, correct?

JOHNSTON: All we are going is responding as best we can until something positive comes up. Now, you know, we've got to get a boat into the water. We've got to hook up the debris, depending on its size; we've got to get it on board and then we got to have experts tell us whether it's a part of an aircraft.

BOLDUAN: Now I want to ask about that process.

And Vice Chief, you can probably help with that.

Let's say the Success finds debris. They bring it on board. Is it identified right there on the ship? I know it's a huge ship. Or is it brought back to Perth? What is the process?

MARK BINSKIN, AUSTRALIAN VICE CHIEF OF DEFENSE: They will then move into the area. And as they start to recover the debris, they'll look for anything, the serial numbers, the shape of it, the color of the markings. They will find as much as they can. They will pass that back to the coordination center and then they will start looking at that and then start looking and talking with experts and describing it to see if it's possibly a part of wreckage and then we will look to collect more.

But some wreckage, if it's serial numbers or things like that, it becomes very obvious. If other parts, it might be quite generic and difficult to do.

JOHNSTON: But it is a big task.

BOLDUAN: And as someone who is helping to lead one of the major parts of this effort, the investigation here, as the minister of defense, do you think the criticism of your counterparts in Malaysia has been fair? Because there's been a lot of focus on that during this investigation.

JOHNSTON: Hindsight is always a wonderful thing in a mystery such as this. I think the blame game is a long way from even being credibly able to be started. Now, I -- my heart goes out to the Malaysian authorities, not to mention of course the families and friends of the crew and the passengers.

Look, this has been a tragedy. It has come from nowhere.

Who would have anticipated anything like this, an aircraft just going off the radar? And now we believe it's about 3,500 kilometers away from where it's supposed to be at its last point of identification.

Now Inmarsat, in one of the most outrageously remote parts of the planet.

BOLDUAN: You're working very hard to spot this debris.

Are you confident this effort will find the debris at some point? Do you think there is a chance that we will never find this plane even if it landed in the Indian Ocean?

BINSKIN: It again is difficult to speculate. But we take every bit of information that comes in; it's being shared by many, many nations to try and refine the search area. But there's always a possibility. Actually, we might not find something next week or the week after, but I think eventually something will come to light, but it's going to take time.

BOLDUAN: Time and patience is something that's very difficult in these trying times, when you know that you only have a limited number of hours left on that black box.

Gentlemen, I really appreciate. Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the search. Everyone's hoping and waiting with you.



BOLDUAN: Now, the Australian maritime safety authority does say -- did say late today that they do expect search efforts to resume tomorrow, because they do expect the weather to improve. But we should make no mistake about it, this really has been a setback today because all of the planes had been on the ground.

The ships have had to move out of the area. Just to give you a sense, some of the details that they passed out today, the waves they are looking at are at 61/2 feet. The swells, they were looking at 13-foot swells, 50 mph winds, heavy rain, low cloud cover, making it near impossible to find something that is nearly impossible to find, a needle in a haystack or even worse.

But maybe some optimism here. The search could resume tomorrow.

We'll have much more on this. But coming up next on NEW DAY, a British satellite company had the first big breakthrough in this search and answered a question that seemed to have stumped investigators for two weeks.

How did the company figure out where to look for the plane?

We're going to look at the technology behind Inmarsat coming up.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. British satellite company Inmarsat used what's called groundbreaking analysis to track Flight 370. Using data from the pings sent from the aircraft to the satellite, the handshakes they're calling them, engineers concluded that the flight followed a path along the southern corridor and likely ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

Now the head of Inmarsat spoke with our Wolf Blitzer about the certainty of their findings. I want you to listen to this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Do you know for sure, without any doubt whatsoever, that the plane went into the Indian Ocean and that there are no survivors?

CHRIS MCLAUGHLIN, INMARSAT: No. There are a number of jumps there. What I can tell you, for definite, is that as the operator of the world's Global Maritime Distress Service for the last 34 years, we have a lot of experience. We feel the sadness of the families, and we do feel for them at this point. But if you look at the plots that we have, using recent adjusted techniques, we can say that the most likely route is the south, and the most likely ending is in roughly the area where they're looking now. But, of course, nothing is final.

We're not Earth observation satellites. We're data satellites. So it will require a lot of different skills and a lot of different people, not least the naked eye, to finally confirm what happened to 370.


BERMAN: All right. Let's get a better sense of what information his company is providing.

So I want to bring back CNN's safety analyst, former FAA inspector and the author of "Why Planes Crash," David Soucie.

David, we're standing here on this map of the world. I want you to explain to me. As that plane was flying as we now call it he southern corridor, taking off from Kuala Lumpur, taking that turn down here, what kind of data was it sending back and what is Inmarsat now analyzing?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, the information that's being sent when you talk about a ping, is that it's a handshake, it's saying I'm up here and visualize the satellite up here so they -- and it's communicating and saying I'm here and then it sends something back saying, it's not; it's saying I am this person.

But the information being sent distinguishes that aircraft. There's 30-bit signals saying this is specifically what aircraft I am.

BERMAN: And now they've reanalyzed this data they've had for a few weeks now and determined that it did go along this route. And along this entire route, it was sending back those handshakes.

SOUCIE: Correct. Correct. And that's -- but remember, this satellite has never before been used for directional, for finding anything. It's just simply for communications. So what the brilliant scientists there at Inmarsat did, and I spoke with some of those scientists myself, is they took this information and they calculated how long it takes to communicate with the satellite here, here, here.

And each time, as it gets closer, it takes less time to communicate to it.

BERMAN: All right. There was something interesting we learned from the news conference that took place just a few minutes ago, there were all these handshakes and then there was a partial handshake between the plane and the Inmarsat satellite that took place somewhere around here that they're still analyzing.

What do you think that could be, a partial handshake?

SOUCIE: Well, I think that's the best clue of all. Because then at that point, they know that the aircraft, as I said, it was coming closer to the center of the satellite, and then it starting getting away from the center of the satellite. That's how they knew it was going away.

The partial handshake would indicate that something happened on either end, that something happened, that the aircraft was trying to communicate and then it stopped because that communication is continually verified, even though data's going back and forth. They're still communicating with each other, saying is this still the person I'm talking to, is this still the airplane I'm talking to.

So to me, that would have probably -- and I think they said it was the last one, didn't...?

BERMAN: Right.

SOUCIE: So that would have told me conclusively as -- and I'm no scientist with this, but from what I've heard, from this person I've been talking to, that would say conclusively at that point is when they lost communication with the aircraft.

BERMAN: And then also important, beyond that point, no more handshakes. And they've calculated that is beyond the length of where this plane could have flown because of the fuel on board.


SOUCIE: Correct, yes. That's right. That's -- at that point, not only the fuel on board issue, but again, there's no handshaking going on. So what's you're saying is, that's the last time that the aircraft had power or had they had the satcom antenna working. So that's the best clue that they have.

BERMAN: And that is why they are searching right there at this point, well, at least they will search when the weather improves.

All right -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: All right, thanks so much, John.

Next up on NEW DAY, more than two weeks of frustration and grief now turning to rage. Families of those on board Flight 370 say Malaysia has made their pain so much worse. We're going to speak with an expert who has worked before with grieving families.

Also a vital U.S. shipping channel at a standstill because of an oil spill.

Will those ships be able to move today?



PEREIRA: Welcome back. Overnight, hundreds of family members and friends of missing Flight 370 passengers marched on Malaysia's embassy in Beijing. They say they're angry. They're livid at how they got and the airline has handled the search.

On Monday, their worst fears were confirmed when Malaysian officials announced the plane went down in the Indian Ocean and that no one on board survived.

Joining us now is Molly Schatzberger. She's a former emotional and spiritual care director with the Salvation Army. She has counseled families of victims of TWA Flight 800 and also following the September 11th terror attacks among others.

We're really pleased to have you here.

First of all, so nearly 24 hours ago, we saw the families of the passengers as they reacted to receiving the news about how the flight ended in the Indian Ocean. Certainly some strong displays of emotion. I think many of us can relate to that. Some people lashed out. The anger, this is typical, one would imagine, of how you'd react to getting this kind of information.

MOLLY SCHATZBERGER, GRIEF COUNSELOR, SALVATION ARMY: Yes, it is. Anger is a normal reaction to any grief, but it's intensified with the circumstances around the plane going down.

They have been told that there are no survivors, but I think many of them are still waiting for the proof of it. It has to be somebody's fault that this happened. So they're now expressing their anger at what seems the most evident.

PEREIRA: As a counselor, Molly, how do you counsel someone who is experienced this? Because first of all, you're dealing with their grief, right? The trauma of losing --



PEREIRA: -- one so dear -- that is so dear to you. But then the frustration and the anger. Do you separate those; do you deal with them differently?

SCHATZENBERGER: What you do is you listen. People have the mistaken idea that counseling is a lot of talking. But actually, counseling is listening.

And my philosophy has always been, let the person take me where they want to go. If they want to express their anger, then I'm there to listen to it, not to condemn them, not to tell them they shouldn't feel that way, but to let them express whatever they're feeling at that very moment.

PEREIRA: It's interesting because I was about to ask you if some of the cultural differences -- because we know there's 14 different nationalities represented on the passenger manifest. So we have various cultures and their ways of dealing with grief. But I suppose listening works in any language and in any country.

SCHATZENBERGER: Absolutely. And with any culture, you're always going to have the incredible sadness. You're going to have the feeling of helplessness, you're going to have the frustration and there's always going to be anger at why did this happen or what caused it. So there are some common things, regardless of the nationalities.

PEREIRA: One of the things that I think has been generating some frustration from people that are not necessarily affected by it, because I think we're almost reacting to how these families are being treated, is the fact that some of the families -- now they opted in to receive a text message from the Malaysian officials that their loved ones were lost.

I think that shocks a lot of us. We're very aware of the age we live in.

But as a grief counselor, how would you handle that and would you suggest this is the best way to go?

SCHATZENBERGER: I would not suggest it's the best way to go, but I do not want to try to second-guess a government at this point.

But normally, you would have somebody with them; during the plane crash after 9/11, if you remember, two weeks later, there was a plane crash in New York.

And during that time, the families had a spiritual person with them, spiritual and emotional care, a mental health person with them to take them to a private room and to tell the families that their family member's name was on the manifest. And that worked -- I mean there was a lot of grief. There was a lot of reaction. But that seemed to work pretty well.

PEREIRA: You know, I was thinking about the fact that for some of those families, yesterday's announcement might bring them a measure of closure, but the fact remains, we don't know if their loved ones' remains are going to be found. We don't know if we're ever going to find this wreckage.

And that uncertainty must be a very difficult aspect of this grieving process for the people.

SCHATZENBERGER: It is. And I think sometimes we use the word closure very openly. I don't think in a catastrophe like this that there's ever going to be closure for those families.

PEREIRA: Very good point.

SCHATZENBERGER: I think there's moving on, you know, from the emotion of the first hearing the news.

And I really think for some of them, until it's absolutely positively proven to them -- here's a piece of the plane, or here's something that we can identify with the crash -- I think some of them are still in their hearts hoping against hope that this is not true.

PEREIRA: Certainly.

Molly, we want to thank you, Molly Schatzberger, thank you for your insight and looking at the --


PEREIRA: -- and we certainly know too, John, is that one of the aspects that we've heard from survivors or surviving members of people that were lost in flight disasters like this is that the help is needed down the road, after the cameras go away, after the press conferences are over, months down the road. That's when they really need the support.

BERMAN: It's so true. So interesting what she said, too, that grief can lead to anger. Well, in this case, I think they had anger already. I think just it probably makes the situation even worse.

Great, great interview.

All right. We want to turn now to another story we've been following. Dozens of ships still stranded at the Port of Houston this morning, very, very important shipping location in the United States, as oil containment efforts stretch into a fourth day.

A barge collision led to 170,000 gallons spilled this weekend. And Coast Guard officials are now re-evaluating whether traffic can resume today on the Houston ship channel.

We're going to bring in meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

What kind of conditions are we talking about here, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're talking about a little bit of rain as we go into Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures are in the 60s. But notice the winds. Winds are going to be pretty strong out of the northeast today at 16 mph. Winds will be increasing as we go into Wednesday and Thursday, and they will be out of the south.

So the worry is a lot of that oil will be pushed into the bay. I want to show you some video, a lot of this aerials of the cleanups, crews trying to clean as much of this up as they can. The best-case scenario now is officials are hoping that this will just continue to flow to the north, eventually turn into those tarballs that we heard so much about with the BP oil spill, and then folks can clean them up from there.

Going back to the maps, here a map of what we're looking at. There's Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island, the spill right here. It is starting to flow into the bay. Of course, that is the main concern.

When you compare this though to the Exxon Valdez spill with 10.8 million gallons and then the BP oil spill with 210 million gallons, this doesn't even compare, 170,000 gallons, but still a major concern. You have the wildlife you're worried about. You also have gas prices could possibly go up if these ships can't get into the channel. And also all of this is close to fishing so the seafood industry affected as well.

BERMAN: All right, Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

You know, it's happening at a very interesting anniversary, very poignant for a lot of people. Tonight be sure to watch CNN's special report on the Exxon Valdez, "Oil & Water: The Wreck of the Exxon Valdez," airs tonight at 10 o'clock Eastern on CNN. What, it's been 25 years now since that disaster -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right. Well, certainly a lot of news broke overnight. So let's bring you up to speed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aircraft is now lost. None of the passengers on board survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have not successfully identified and recovered any debris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had to abandon operations for 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commitment to openness and respect for families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A liar and even a murderer. They just hype everything.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This hill gave way, swallowing a square mile of land and everything in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't find any sign of any survivors.



PEREIRA: Our viewers from around the United States and around the globe, I'm Michaela Pereira alongside John Berman, in for Chris Cuomo. (INAUDIBLE) breaking news overnight, new developments in the ongoing search for Flight 370.

BERMAN: That's right. Malaysian officials narrowing down the search area. So we want to get straightaway to Kate Bolduan, who joins us live from Perth, Australia.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

Good morning, everyone, joining you, of course, as John said, from Perth, Australia. Officials are now focusing on the southern tip of the southern corridor of that search area that was defined about a week ago. But the effort to find Flight 370 is on hold right now because conditions are so dangerous out in the southern Indian ocean, that the search area is being slammed with strong winds, heavy rain, huge waves and importantly, very low cloud cover. So visibility, not good enough for a search.

Australian officials say the search, though, is expected to resume tomorrow as conditions are expected to improve. Malaysia Airlines is now telling distraught family members they will never see their lost loved ones again, horrible news that they're having a very difficult time dealing with.

The company is offering each passenger's family $5,000 and said it's preparing to make more payments as the search drags on, the money, though, little consolation for the anguish, angry relatives in China.