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Search for Flight 370

Aired March 26, 2014 - 05:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. The search intensifying for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. New clues this morning helping to narrow the search. Right now, investigators scouring the Southern Indian Ocean by air and by sea for any sign of this vanished jetliner. We have live team coverage on the very latest.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow in for John Berman today. It is 5:30 a.m. here on the East Coast. Thanks for joining us.

We begin with the search for Flight 370 intensifying in the Southern Indian Ocean. More than a dozen planes and ships from six countries, desperately looking for any sign of that missing jetliner. China now getting heavily involved in this search and rescue operation. Sending in four ships and five aircraft to assist. So far, though, nothing, no debris has been found.

Meanwhile, family members in China coping with agonizing grief and mounting anger. Many of them trying to rush the Malaysian embassy in Beijing. They want answers.

Our Jim Clancy is tracking the investigation live from Kuala Lumpur.

Jim, those family members, so many of them hanging on to hope. They want proof. They want more than just a statement from Malaysian authorities saying that 239 people on that plane are gone. They want to see evidence.

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. And you know, the prime minister of Malaysia released that statement saying that they feared, of course, that all 239 lives had been lost. The plane indeed had been lost. In one of the remote places on earth. And when you stop and think about it, these Chinese families, news that their loved ones were flying from here in Kuala Lumpur up to Beijing, suddenly they're being told they disappeared far, far south in the southern reaches of one of the most remote places on earth in the Indian Ocean.

And it's hard for them to accept that. That there could be a mathematical calculation and no evidence. Well, the prime minister explained it. He released the information, he didn't want to look like he was withholding anything from anyone. And now, they're, of course, demanding some of the details in all of that. Chinese officials as well putting on pressure saying they want to look at the data, they want to do some analysis of their own. That's understandable.

But, you know, everyone from the families to officials here in Malaysia, and, remember, the Malaysians, that's the number two list on the passengers' manifest for the number of people that were on board that flight. So people here on -- in Kuala Lumpur very much on edge. Every day at about this time, when we hear from the Australians what they have reached, what they have found in their search. There was a dozen aircraft up there today that have been working on all of that. Light is going to begin to fade. But that search continues.

And everyone is hoping to hear some positive news because they know, only when you find the plane -- only when you first find the debris can you locate the plane, can you locate the flight data recorders. Can you unravel the mystery of Flight 370?

Back to you.

HARLOW: And Jim, there --

CLANCY: Poppy?

HARLOW: There are a series of investigations going on right now. Of course, you know, critical is finding any debris also the Malaysian government investigation, the Malaysian Air Force new investigation announced last night, and the Chinese have launched their own investigation.

Do we have any information on what that Chinese investigation entails? What they may have found thus far? Obviously, they're doing this because people are crying out, family members in Beijing, for answers, and do not feel like they're getting them from Malaysian authorities?

CLANCY: China does not want to be seen as standing by and letting -- leaving all of this to someone else. They are bound and determined we will have an active role to play in this. When they say they're investigating, I'm only going to assume everything. They're going to look at that Inmarsat data. They're going to look at the radar data. They're going to look at all of it -- Poppy, Christine.

HARLOW: And just quickly, Jim, they are demanding all of the satellite information from Malaysian authorities. Are they getting it?

CLANCY: I don't know the answer to that question. I don't see the Malaysians as holding back on that information. It was given to them by British accident investigators, as well as Inmarsat. How they arrived at their calculations is a very detailed analysis.


CLANCY: Now we do know last night that they met with some of the families and tried to share with them some of the technical analysis. But, you know, I can't tell you exactly what those numbers mean. I think that the raw data will likely be given to Beijing so they can have a hand in it as well.

But what does this mean for the investigation, that is not at all clear. Because having, you know, multiple people looking at the data it can't be bad.

HARLOW: Right.

CLANCY: It can only be good.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

CLANCY: Because more eyes look at it, analyze it, but at the same time, you know, we'll have to wait and see. Back to you.

HARLOW: Yes. And the key also is that coordination with so many eyes looking at it.

Thank you, appreciate it -- Jim.

ROMANS: So analyzing data but trying to find some debris to analyze as well to put pieces of the puzzle together.

Andrew Stevens monitoring the latest on the search process. He is in Perth, Australia, for us. And it's morning here, it is evening there. You've had search crews from six -- more than six countries out all day. What is the latest? Have they found anything?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not that we're aware of, but remember when it comes to releasing information it is pretty tightly controlled. And it does come out of camera through the search coordinators. Not all of those planes, those search planes are back at the moment. There's probably another two hours or so, Christine, of daylight left in that target zone.

Twelve aircraft going up today which is the biggest fleet of aircraft so far in this search. And they really have to maximize their efforts when they can because the weather is not playing its part. Today it was -- it was OK. It wasn't great by any means, and there was still quite a lot of cloud in the area but good enough still to get a -- all their air assets up and over that search zone.

We're hearing that the weather is likely to start deteriorating in the next 24 hours to the degree where they have to cancel the flight, we don't know yet. But we're still waiting to get information back. There was a Royal Australian Air Force Orion due back here in about -- in about an hour from now. That -- we get invited to go across to the tarmac, and sometimes, the pilot will come out of the plane and come and say a quick statement which is usually we haven't found anything and tell us a bit about the conditions.

That arrival of that plane has been pushed back an hour. We don't know why. So we're waiting to find out what's going on there.

The other side of this search, of course, is actually on the surface. The sea search. And today, a significant boost in the number of people actually in ships, in that area. There are now five ships in the area. There is the Australian Naval vessel which is back on station after it had to leave yesterday because of the weather. There is a Chinese icebreaker there. And there are three other Chinese naval vessels.

They are now right there crisscrossing that area. That search zone is still big. But they're on target. They're looking and it's so important to have that visual contact to actually locate a piece of debris, get to it, get it back on board and identify it.

ROMANS: All right. From Perth, Andrew Stevens, thank you.

Finding any piece of debris that can be connected to this flight is critical to locating the plane and its flight data recorder. And take a look at this exclusive video of the high-tech autonomous underwater vehicle. This sensitive search area by the U.S. military. This thing is known as an AUV. It has sophisticated sonar that can detect wreckage at depths of nearly 15,000 feet. The Pentagon says it's there just in case there's a need.

HARLOW: And in addition to the sonar, search teams have also -- they have something called a hydrophone at their disposal. This is basically a microphone designed to be used under water. They were originally developed to ferret out enemy submarines. Now they'll be used to locate those critical pings and hopefully the wreckage from Flight 370.

We're going to get you more information on that in a moment. Right now, I want to take you live to Kuala Lumpur, the daily press by -- by Malaysian officials. Let's listen in.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: -- focus in the Southern Indian Ocean where a multinational team led by Australia is combing the waters, trying to find debris from the flight.

Our determination to find MH-370 remains steadfast. As we have said all along, we will never give up trying to find the plane. In order to bring closure for the families and to establish exactly what happened to MH-370. Australia, China and France have already released satellite images showing objects that may be related to MH-370.

Yesterday, on the 25th of March, the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency, MRSA, received new satellite images from Airbus Defense and Space which is based in France. And these images were taken on the 23rd of March. MIC analyzed the images and in one area of the ocean measuring some 400 square kilometers were able to identify 122 potential objects. Some objects were a meter in length. Others were as much as 23 meters in length. Some of the objects appear to be bright, possibly indicating solid material. The objects were located approximately 2,557 kilometers from Perth. We will issue a handout showing their location after this press conference.

MRSA's findings were immediately forwarded to the Australian Emergency Rescue Coordination Center in Perth yesterday. It must be emphasized that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH-370. Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation.

We have now had four separate satellite leads from Australia, from China and France showing possible debris. It's now imperative that we link the debris to MH-370. This will enable us to further reduce the search area and local more debris from the plane.

Australia is leading the search effort in the Southern Indian Ocean based out of Perth. Malaysia continues to play a coordinating role. All countries involved are displaying unprecedented levels of cooperation. That has not changed. Australia has divided the search area into two sectors. The east and the west.

Today, the weather has improved, and the 12 -- and 12 planes will travel to the search area, six in the east sector and six in the west. In the east sector, searches will be conducted by one Australian P-3 Orion and 3 Australian civilian aircraft. One Chinese Illusion, IL 76 and New Zealand P-3 Orion.

In the western sectors, searches will be conducted by one U.S. P-8 Poseidon, one Korean P-3 Orion, one Japanese P-3 Orion, two Australian P-3 Orion and one civilian aircraft. Two ships will also join the search operations.

Yesterday, HMAS' success was redeployed to the south of the search area due to bad weather. Today, the ship has returned and will support the search operations in the west sector. Meanwhile, the Chinese ship Xu Long has today been deployed to the east sector. A Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft left Subang this morning for Perth to join the search operation.

As I mentioned yesterday, the search operations in the northern corridor and in the northern part of the southern corridor have been called off. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent diplomatic notes to all relevant countries to formally inform them of this change.

Before I continue, I would like to convey our appreciation to the Australian authorities and in particular to Prime Minister Tony Abbott for making such an extraordinary contribution to this search operation.

Chinese special enjoy. Today, the prime minister met with the Excellency Zhang Yesui, the Chinese prime minister of foreign affairs and also it is a special enjoy of the government of China I also met with his Excellency his afternoon.

During our conversation, his Excellency conveyed China's commitment to continue and intensify the search operation in any way possible. And to deploy any assets that may be required. Malaysia has provided his Excellency and his delegation with a full update on the latest information from Inmarsat.

His Excellency and his delegation also received a comprehensive briefing from the international technical team. As I mentioned yesterday, based on the new information provided by Inmarsat, we have established an international working group. The deceased involved in this working group include Inmarsat. AAIB. The Chinese CAS and EEID, NTSB, FAA, Boeing and Rolls Royce as well as the relevant, , Malaysian authorities.

The rule of the working is to help try and refine the Inmarsat data and if possible more accurately determined the final position of MH- 370.

I should like to note that the CEO of Malindo Airlines, Chandra Rama Murthy, has joined me on stage today, and we will be able to ask him -- he will be able to answer any questions that you might have.

And as announced yesterday MAS is now taking a lead in communication -- in communicating with the families and is conducting their own press conferences. MAS will hold another press conference tomorrow regarding that.

New satellite images continue to provide clues in the search for MH- 370, ladies and gentlemen. And with improved weather conditions, aircraft are now able to investigate objects of interest.

I would like to thank, once again, our international partners, and once again, for their continued support and assistance. The search for MH-370 and investigation into what happened on board the flight is now a truly international effort.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Ladies and gentlemen, Q&A session, we will open to the local media first and then followed by the international media. So I will start. Part of the back, please.


HARLOW: All right. We're going to keep an eye on this presser and come back to it in a moment. But let's recap. This is a possible significant development. The Malaysian Transportation minister just saying in this daily press conference there is, quote, "another new lead," that satellite images taken on March 23rd from French satellites have spotted 122 potential objects possibly solid.

ROMANS: That's right. They say they are -- some appeared bright, indicating bright, potentially solid material.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: These are about 2500 kilometers from Perth. So obviously, they're really focused on this particular area. Some of these pieces are about 23 meters in length. So you're looking for those --

HARLOW: Quite large.

ROMANS: You're looking for those large pieces that could be fuselage, that could be wing. And those are -- typically, easier to spot than some of the smaller pieces. Again now, by my count, you've got four different satellite imagery showing different kinds of potential debris.

HARLOW: Right. ROMANS: Australia, China, France.

HARLOW: India -- yes.

ROMANS: So they're calling this is a new lead. They're saying they're going to release the satellite information but obviously it helps narrow the focus there.

HARLOW: And what is critical now also coming from the Malaysian Transportation minister saying, quote, "It is imperative we link this debris to MH-370."

Again, we do not know if this is indeed debris or -- and if it is debris, is it debris from the plane? However, 122 potential objects some as large as 23 meters.

ROMANS: Let's go back and listen. This is now in English.


ROMANS: It's Q&A with the reporters there. Let's listen in and see what they're saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): So that any more accident doesn't happen again. And this is what we want to do generally. And that is currently what we are doing right now to find the flight and to find the black box so that we can receive -- so that we can retrieve information, information to answer our questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Good evening, Datu Seri. I'm (INAUDIBLE). I have a question for you and one question for Malindo Air. Yesterday some of the Chinese relatives have been demonstrating in front of our embassy in Beijing. What precautions, safety precautions are being taken over there? And what control -- safety control that is currently being done over there? And for the CEO --

HUSSEIN (Through Translator): From safety aspects of our embassy, I was informed that it is currently under control. Any progress in regards to those who were involved have been informed to the delegates in China and it is currently being brought by envoy. And also has been getting involved in the prime minister.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Good evening. This morning, the Malindo Flight this morning, 104, from Subang to (INAUDIBLE), about 7,000 feet, the captain of the flight had found that the fire detection system triggered. Once the fire detection system has been triggered without wasting any more time, without delaying, the captain diverted the plane back to Subang.

In seven to 10 minutes, the captain succeeded diverting the plane without any accidents to the crews or passengers. And all the passengers were safely landed in Subang this morning.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): OK. (INAUDIBLE)? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I would like to ask if how is the government preparing to assist Malaysia Airlines if it turned out ? And what are the -- how is the government preparing to assist Malaysian airlines if it turns out the government (INAUDIBLE) and what are the -- how is the government preparing to assist Malaysian Airlines if it turns out for a government -- to cover its financial losses?

HUSSEIN: We are looking at the search and rescue here. I will not entertain that (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there any estimation of losses yet, sir?

HUSSEIN: I will have no details of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Next question. The panel? Please would you stand up and identify yourself, please, thank you.


Datu Seri, I'd like to ask, MH-370 is a co-sharing flight with Southern China -- what is -- what is China currently doing in regards to this incident?

HUSSEIN (Through Translator): The corporation NGTG, and this involves a deeper understanding between them and us. And I don't see a problem with two companies that is involved in the co-sharing relationship. I feel that it is more relevant if this question is being asked tomorrow when the CEO is around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Datu Seri, Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott he has confirmed passing investigations, responsibilities to Malaysia. So judging from the bruising we got from the international media, how do you think this will improve as a brand in Malaysia and how financially ready is Malaysia to see this through the long haul?

Thanks, sir.

HUSSEIN (Through Translator): Bruising I think is a bit too harsh. Because this is unprecedented. Anybody who has gone through what we have gone through in 17 days have indicated to me that we have done quite admirable job. Not many countries in the word could get 26 countries to work together. Not many countries can get all the most sophisticated planes from countries, from every corner of the world, to come and assist.

And I have indicated in the past that in a world that's full of divide, of hate, of death, what we see, a joint effort from all sectors of the community. Notwithstanding the color of your skin, your race, your religion, boundaries do not become a concern in an area in Southeast Asia when we're were over rocks in the middle of the sea, now working together.

I think that is a great achievement. So, no, I do not see it as a bruising. Of course, as we go through it today, when there is no conclusion to it, when we have not found the debris. And we have not linked any debris to MH-370, speculation will go on and people will look to Malaysia. But I think history will judge as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other row. Second row.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Datu Seri. I'm sorry from Star. Datu Seri, given the certainly to which Malaysia Chinese citizens especially family members, will it affect the bilateral ties between Asia and China even if this is (INAUDIBLE). And number two, is the German search and rescue submarines are being deployed to the search and rescue area?

HUSSEIN (Through Translator): The German rescue, I have not got details of that. As far as the Chinese is concerned, I told you I just met up with the Chinese high-level delegation this morning. So has the prime minister. And as you all know, our prime minister will be visiting China in may. And that plan is still going to go ahead.

President Obama will be visiting Malaysia next month. So basically, as I said to the earlier question, the unprecedented cooperation, looking for MH-370 actually is going to be an asset in both of those visits.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can confirm that the air force has turned arranged --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MS-Flight, the flight turned around because he thought Subang had ordered air traffic control?

HUSSEIN: No, I cannot confirm that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Last question from Malaysia. Second row. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. We're going to continue to monitor this press conference being given by Malaysian authorities. But the headline here, 122 potential objects spotted about 2500 miles off of Perth by French satellite images from March 23rd. Some very large. As large as 23 meters.

ROMANS: All right. "NEW DAY" is going to follow this and have all of these details and development right after the break.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 26th, 6:00 in the east. I'm Michaela Pereira, John Berman in for Chris Cuomo who is off.

We have breaking news. Just moments ago, Malaysian officials announcing a French satellite has spotted more potential debris from Malaysia Flight 370.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Definitely a lot of it. This is a new lead in a search that's really ramped up today. With more ships, more planes, over the area than before.

Our Kate Bolduan live in Perth, Australia following it all -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning guys. Yes, just minutes ago, we learned more -- that more than a hundred objects, it was described, different objects were spotted by satellites on Sunday in the same area at least as far as we know. That's been the focus of the search effort here so far. That's west of Perth where I am coming to you live from.

They describe them as different sizes. Some of them bright meaning they could be solid, maybe possibly metal. Meantime, so that's one big development that we're watching.