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New Data Changes MH370 Search Zone; FBI: Pilot's Flight Simulator Offers No Clues; Washington State New conference Expected on Mudslide Death Toll; MH370 Family Members Leave Briefing in Protest.

Aired March 28, 2014 - 11:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Major developments in the search for flight 370. New information has changed the search zone by about 700 miles.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Several plane crews reported they spotted seeing different colored objects in the new search.

Our Kyung Lah was with the crew on one of the planes. She said she saw an orange rope and a blue bag but cautioned that this area, this part of the ocean certainly has a lot of garbage. It is hard to say if it has anything to do with flight 370.

BERMAN: I want to show you something a military plane from New Zealand spotted today. You can see that rectangular object in the water right there.

Right now, it is nighttime in Perth, Australia. Investigators are looking at photographs from the new search area. They are analyzing these photos. Surface vessels, ships, will be on site tomorrow. They'll try to pick up these objects and see what they are first hand.

PEREIRA: Certainly, encouraging news that these items were respotted.

BERMAN: It makes it easier to rule it in or out and get on with the search.

After days of checking out the pilots' profiles in an investigation, meanwhile, investigators have reported nothing to suggest the disappearance of the plane was political or suicidal or terrorism.

PEREIRA: The FBI forensics lab in Virginia is still reviewing a copy of the hard drive from the pilot's simulator that was located and taken from his home. So far, it has not turned up a smoking gun, according to a U.S. official.

Let's bring from cyber and privacy expert, Mark Rasch.

It's good to have you back on the program with us.

Let's talk about it. If nothing suspicious is found on that hard drive, on the hard drive of his computer, on websites he visited, where does this leave us, Mark? MARK RASCH, CYBER & PRIVACY EXPERT: Back where we were before. We're simply speculating. The fact that there was nothing found doesn't mean that there was nothing this pilot was doing. It is a strong indication this was an ordinary pilot on an ordinary an ordinary flight. So there was nothing suspicious on either the flights they were simulating or any of their communications or web searches. So you are back to square one.

BERMAN: Mark, one of the things we heard from officials from Malaysia Air, they plan to do regular psychological evaluations of their pilots going forward. It seemed a little bit react tiff to what some people that saw that. What do you make of that?

RASCH: Sure. It is reactive. You don't know what to look for. There may be obvious signs in certain cases. You are not going to look for in every single case. At best, these become spot checks. But just like you want to check out the mental health of the pilot, if you can do it.

PEREIRA: You likely saw this. We talked about it extensively here on our air. "USA Today" had an article saying that suspicion was on the pilot largely because he was the only one that could properly operate the plane. Is that a fair deduction to make?

RASCH: The pilot and co-pilot have an opportunity, they are in the cockpit and they know how to fly a plane. Whenever you have something that looks like deliberate -- or deliberate or functional conduct, you are going to look at the people who had an opportunity to do it and had the knowledge necessary to do it. That doesn't mean that they did it. It just means that's one of the places you are going to look.

BERMAN: Now that we have the flight simulator, the FBI appears to be done. There are no smoking guns there. Back to square one. Does that mean being over the passenger list yet again? Going over the other crew members. If they haven't found something by now, Mark, how likely is it something else will turn up?

RASCH: You are ruling out. You start with various theories, theories of explosion, fire and deliberate conduct, theories of suicide by the pilot, theories of hijacking and you look for evidence. As you develop more evidence, you either continue on with that theory, reject that theory, or most likely put that theory aside until you have more evidence. So if the plane is recovered, if the black box is recovered, you may say, based on this new evidence, we have a new theory or it confirms an old theory. You looking for evidence based on the theories you have presented.

PEREIRA: Mark Rasch, good to have you back with us @ THIS HOUR. Appreciate you joining us. Happy Friday.

RASCH: Thank you. You, too.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, we are awaiting a news conference from Washington State, the sight of that horrible landslide. We do understand the death toll is likely to rise substantially. We'll give you all the details just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: It's six days in and still very few answers after the mile- long landslide in Washington's Cascade Mountains. Crews expect to find a significant number of bodies. Overnight, another body was recovered. The official death toll is at 17. Seven more victims were located but not yet recovered.

BERMAN: Our Dan Simon is in Arlington, Washington, where we are looking for another update 20 minutes from now. CNN will be covering that for you.

Dan, I think we are all expecting this to be a very grim announcement.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are warning us that the news is going to be leaked, John and Michaela. First of all, I don't know if you can tell behind me, it is raining. It is cold, raining. That's going to make the search today that much more difficult. We are also expected to get this news, as you said, in the next 20 or 30 minutes. Authorities here are preparing folks for the worst. They say that the death toll is going to rise significantly. Perhaps we'll get a better sense also in terms of the numbers of people missing. As you said, the death toll officially stands at 17. We know the numbers are greater than that. They have identified at least seven more bodies in the debris, in the rubble. Until the medical examiner clears those bodies, they are not being added to the official list.

In terms of the effort, seasoned rescue crews tell us that even six days now since the catastrophic event, it is still a nightmare going through those piles of mud. We are not talking about just trained people going through the wreckage but also people who have never done this before, volunteers, people who live in the community, trying to help their friends and neighbors and locate belongings and bodies.

We spoke to one such person yesterday. Take a look.


SIMON: When you say you are digging by hand, can you explain what that means? You are literally using your hands?

GORDON STOROE, LANDSLIDE RESCUE VOLUNTEER: Literally, with gloves on and garden tools, you try and use bigger tools to move the mud and debris out of the way. You end up down on all fours. Literally, a handful of dirt at all times. You can get every board out of the way. It is so deep, six, seven feet deep. It is just trees, wood, shards of glass, window frames, anything. Those houses are blown into pieces so small, I can't believe it.


SIMON: The number of those missing or unaccounted for is about 90. That's down substantially from where we were a few days ago. At one point, we were at 176. It is a bit confusing. It has been a fluid number. Perhaps we will get a better sense in the next few minutes.

John, Michaela, back to you.

PEREIRA: John, it is such -- with the way the young man described it, it is like the houses were put inside of a blender. They talk about how deep that mud is. Hopefully, they are going to have more assistance as they get more support to continue those search efforts.

BERMAN: Whatever number they come up with it will be painfully, painfully high.


PEREIRA: -- at the top of the hour.

BERMAN: 20 minutes from now, that news conference. We'll be covering that when it happens.

Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, Malaysian officials in Beijing ready to take questions from relatives of those on missing flight 370 but the meeting room was empty. Why? We'll tell you just ahead.


PEREIRA: Major developments today. A new search zone in the hunt for flight 370. Search planes have already spotted pieces of possible debris in several places. And ships, they will reach the area tomorrow to try to confirm.

Meanwhile, a briefing in Beijing for relatives and passengers missing on flight 370. It was moving into the question and answer phase when this happened.




PEREIRA: Hundreds of family members simply got up and walked out of the room leaving it virtually empty. A protest, almost a peaceful protest and a quiet protest. These heartbroken relatives desperate for answers.

As she was heading out the door, one family member accused Malaysian authorities of concealing facts, and said, quote, "There will certainly be people who receive due punishment as a result of this."

The partner of missing American, Philip Wood, is also furious with Malaysian officials. Sarah Bajc's anger grew after families were told that flight 370 ended in the Indian Ocean and that nobody survived, and told this essentially fairly definitively, only to learn later that the conclusion came from analysis of data, and that no wreckage had been found to lead them to that conclusion.

Here is what she told CNN's "New Day."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH BAJC, PARTNER MISSING ON MH370: The immediate response was, oh, my god, there is no hope left and I'm going to have to resign myself to this. The only feeling I can equate to is like falling off the top of the building. You are just falling through the air. Then the fear and resignation had turned into a bit of anger that they could be so irresponsible as to have that message for families.


BERMAN: Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now.

Sanjay, there is so much uncertainty here. I keep on wondering, what the experts say about this to the family members. Is it healthy to still go on hoping even though all signs point to something awful taking place?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What you seem to hear is, obviously, every person is going to behave and act different, as you might imagine, John, but the initial hope that most people seem to think has some value, people are hopeful, more optimistic. There is value in that. I should add that the hope comes with lots of other things. This is, in many ways, what is referred to often as the heroic period. You literally have the entire world focusing on your loved once as well. You don't feel isolated. You feel like people are on your side despite all the people paying attention to this. And the crash from that can be even harder than from the initial impact. So probably some benefit initially, but at some point, there has to be closure, as well.

PEREIRA: And, you know, Sanjay, you said -- obviously we all deal with things differently. And is these people, of course, are going to manage their grief and manage their sorrow in different ways. We have seen some people collapsing and weeping and furious. You've got to imagine all of this stress is going to take such a toll on them physically.

GUPTA: Yeah. And there's no question, it is heartbreaking to watch. Can't imagine what they're going through. But everything from the pragmatic, probably not eating or sleeping very well. Also your stress hormones are really high. And when your cortisol levels, stress hormones are high, in addition to feeling on edge, having your blood pressure and heart rate elevated, what is having it from a psychological standpoint, as you start to perceive what everyone would think are -- of as innocuous threats or harmless threats are more serious. So you start to feel threatened by things around the word. Your safe zones start to diminish. And that's problematic. It's an added burden on top of what they're going through.

BERMAN: Sanjay, one of the things people say is they want to see proof of what happened to this plane. But what if there never is proof? I mean, one of the things that could be the case is, over the next several months, there's simply no debris found, no nothing. What if they never get that proof they're looking for?

GUPTA: I had a long conversation with a couple grief counselors about this topic last night and diving into this. There's going to be different responses from different people.

But what is interesting is, at some point, people may have closure, even subconsciously in their own mind if they're not consciously displaying it. Also, at some point, if the pain inside becomes -- because of the constant grief you're suffering becomes greater than the initial loss itself, that also brings closure to it. I'm not sure if I'm explaining that very well. As this lingers on and on for long periods of time, eventually that causes a lot of physical pain and at some point, that becomes greater than the loss. And I think that in some ways is a -- at least a physical sense of closure for some people.

PEREIRA: For their sake, each of the family members, the loved ones, the neighbors, the friends. It's not just one person. You know the networks we all have, right? You're so connected to so many people. We hope they find this wreckage and get some closure. We certainly do.

Sanjay, thanks for joining us on this Friday.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, an alarming study about autism and American children. We're going tell you what researchers found.


BERMAN: Plus, baggage handlers stealing stuff out of their suitcases. This is allegedly happening at a major U.S. airport. We'll tell what the police are now saying.

PEREIRA: Is that where my favorite sweater went?


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

In Canada, cancer is the leading cause of death for women.

PEREIRA: And if you're a mom with young children, a cancer diagnosis often raises all sorts of fears that have more to do with your kids than your own life.

This week's "CNN Hero" is there to offer some moms peace of mind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's 7:00. Let's go. Brush teeth.

I'm a pretty independent, strong woman.

It's very cold outside.

But being a single mom is a full-time job. You're tired.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, the first thing that came to my mind was my son. Thinking about one day he gets up and I'm not there, that's the saddest thing for me.

AUDREY GUTH, CNN HERO: Mothers who are diagnosed with cancer are caregivers who suddenly find themselves in need of care.

In 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As I was undergoing treatment, I saw so many mothers with really young children sitting on their laps. These mothers couldn't dream of having nannies. And yet they were the ones that need them the most.


We provide free relief child care to moms undergoing cancer treatment.


GUTH: Some of our volunteers are even cancer survivors themselves.

How do you rest with a 2-year-old running around?

Our program allows mothers the freedom to take a rest, because that's what they need the most to get better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What Audrey has done for moms with cancer is to give us hope.

How much to you love mommy?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to win this battle.

GUTH: What we do won't take away their endless battle, but it will certainly make their journey a lot easier.


PEREIRA: Oh, just having a helping hand when you're fighting the fight of your life.

BERMAN: That's a hero.

Each week, we'll be honoring a new "CNN Hero," an everyday person making a big difference. If you want to get in on the action, go to to nominate someone you know, like Audrey, doing phenomenal work.

PEREIRA: A quick look at other headlines @ THIS HOUR.

The CDC has found a spike in autism cases. One out of 68 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed. That is a 30 percent jump from a couple of years ago. The study does not say why more children are being diagnosed. But it does note that most are male and that a growing number have average or above average intellects. Researchers also found children are still being diagnosed as late as age 4, on average, even though autism can be spotted at age 2.

BERMAN: Concern to a lot of families.

Baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport busted for stealing stuff from luggage. Police have arrested or detained 14 so far with more to come. How they say handlers worked together to swipe electronics.

PEREIRA: We take you to Washington State where there is a press conference @ THIS HOUR about the mudslide. Let's listen in.


CHIEF TRAVIS HOTS, SNOHOMISH COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT: -- at this time. The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and the Snohomish County Examiner's Office expects (sic) to provide us some additional numbers later this afternoon. I know the media has been reporting different numbers. But as an official government spokesperson, I get my information from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office.