Return to Transcripts main page


No Answers on Flight 370; Grief Takes Toll on Families; Crisis in Ukraine

Aired March 30, 2014 - 07:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Here are five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

The search for Flight 370 intensifies in the Southern Indian Ocean today. An Australian ship is being fitted with high-tech black box detectors and trying to hear those pings from the missing jet. It's due to start heading to the search area tomorrow. Now, today, relatives of Chinese passengers are in Malaysia. They are demanding an apology for the mixed messages they say they're getting from the Malaysian government.

PAUL: Number two, an outbreak of the deadly virus Ebola appears to be spreading in West Africa now. Health Ministry officials in Guinea say there are 10 new suspected cases across the country. An estimated 70 people have died of this virus already. Senegal is closing its border to prevent the disease from spreading even further now.

BLACKWELL: Number three, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are due to meet this evening in Paris. They're expected to talk about ways to resolve the crisis in Ukraine peacefully. Right now tensions are high along Ukraine's border where at least 40,000 Russian troops reportedly have gathered.

PAUL: Number four in Washington state, the searchers there are still digging through mud and debris hoping upon hope to find people missing after that monstrous landslide there. Officials say the death toll is now 18, though the number of people unaccounted for has dropped to 30. It had originally been in the hundreds now at 90 yesterday. Officials also say it is getting harder to identify victims who were found in that rubble, as well.

BLACKWELL: And number five, a family dispute turns deadly in New York. Police say an 86-year-old man shot his grandson after an apparent argument. So after the argument they say the elderly man walked into this house, the house you just saw, and fatally shot his grandson's girlfriend before then turning the gun on himself. Neighbors say this is not the first time police have been called to that home. The grandson is in critical condition.

PAUL: All right. Turning back to our top story here this morning. The search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Race is on at this point in time. So critical to find that data recorder under ideal conditions. I mean, those black boxes, as you know, could have just one week of battery life left at this point.

BLACKWELL: And they could be the key not only to finding wreckage, but, of course, learning how the jet was lost.

We're joined now by Doctor Bob Arnot. He's a veteran aviation correspondent.

Dr. Arnot, good to have you. And you say there is a lack of transparency here. What should we know from the manufacturer, from the design of the engine, that we do not know?

DR. BOB ARNOT, VETERAN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: So, Victor, that's a great question. That is -- you know, they have obscured all this data. We should know the latitude and the longitude of each one of those pings so we can determine whether it was a great circle route, which would mean that waypoints were punched in, that the pilots actually selected that route or there was just hunting on a magnetic heading, it was more of a ghost plane.

Also, you know, there was a fire in 2011, a flash fire in the cockpit of an EgyptAir flight, it was EgyptAir 667, and the question is, could this have been the scenario? You know, an oil -- oil field worker actually saw a fire above in the sky and it happened so quickly, there's no possible way of getting any kind of communications in there. So there's lots and lots that the Malaysians know.

Now American investigators don't sit by side with the Malaysians. You know, Boeing, the NTSB, the FAA behind the scenes, have been complaining about data flow. There's Inmarsat calculation that was done on these various ping points or whatnot, they've done themselves but it took them weeks to do. This is 19th century physics. This is the kind of thing that if all of this data had been made more transparent, many more minds working on this to find this field weeks ago as opposed to just now.

PAUL: Well, more transparent, might I ask, Bob, to who? I mean, is security a reason that they may claim they're not sharing it?

ARNOT: So, you know, Christi, it's a really good question. You know, in any organization of government people are always kind of holding on to data. They don't want to give it up, they don't want other people to do their analysis. So you have this -- you know, this military government in Malaysia here who's, you know, just not used to sharing data. They're not used to sharing their radar data.

The Thais took 10 days to come up with -- their radar data. But what we know the main reason, Christi, is that the Malaysians are finding that Washington is a leaky ship. That as they tell them something and suddenly gets in the news media. So they're suspicious of Washington and then Washington on the other hand is saying, we need this data.

You know, finally, Christi, you have Boeing Engineering Solutions that's involved. Great group. So they're weighing out, what really did happen up there? How did this fit with how the aircraft performs? And most importantly right now what they're doing is Boeing is weighing out, how did this airplane enter the water? Did it enter it like EgyptAir where it came in at very high speed and expect just to find very small pieces to tell the search crews?

Was it more like Air France where it was a slow stall and it came in at a much slower speed, probably 200 knots or less and so there are bigger pieces? Or was it like 961, the Ethiopian flight, that actually tried to land in the water with their huge pieces??

So they're weighing this out and I think now that Boeing is involved, we'll have a better sense of exactly where that airplane went down and, of course, in terms of locating those pinger boxes, the big heavy parts of the aircraft are likely to be pretty close together, whereas the lighter parts that float could be all over the place.

Obviously, seat cushions and mats or whatnot can be blown anywhere with the wind. The heavier components like wings or carbon fiber parts of the airplane could be just below the surface, just moving with the waves and easier to sort of retrograde back to where they believe the main body of the airplane is.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Arnot, we know after the Air France crash there were technical changes that were regulated by the FAA some going into effect next year, some going into effect in 2018 as well. After this mystery, what should be the investigative -- just give me a list of maybe two or three investigative changes that should happen as it relates to several governments working together on an international investigation?

ARNOT: So, Victor, the number one thing that needs to happen is that we need to have real-time black boxes. Now there are a couple of Canadian companies that already do this and that means that we can follow these aircraft around the world. But let me tell you why this is so critically important. You know, when they started to look at black boxes where there weren't crashes, they found pilot error.

I mean, take this Asiana crash in San Francisco. You know, these guys weren't making a good approach before. This wasn't the first bad approach. So if all of this is fed real time, not only catch something like this immediately, you could offer solutions immediately, you get fighter jets up immediately to take a look at this. We're going to learn and we need to know because again if you look at this flash bar in the EgyptAir flight back in 2011, it took 90 minutes to put that fire out.

This is on the ground fortunately so everybody got out. So a flash fire like this is something we need to know about, is there any fault in this airplane? We're only going to know that with this real-time black boxes. And keep in mind, we have this already. I was on a Qantas flight in the cockpit a couple of years ago and they have real- time reporting from the engines already. So that starts to spool down, there any kind of change in oil pressure or temperature, whatnot, they know before catastrophe strikes.

So, Victor, that's the number one thing. We need to have real-time recordings from those cockpits so it can catch pilot error early if there are pilot errors being made out there. And so that in a situation like this, we could follow the airplane. As one of your correspondents was saying we could follow everybody's cell phone around the world, why can't you follow airliners?

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's a great people.

PAUL: Yes. A lot of people saying that.

BLACKWELL: Former aviation correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot, thank you so much for speaking with us this morning.

PAUL: Thank you, Dr. Arnot.

So think about it, we're 23 days in on this thing here without definitive answers about what happened to this flight.


PAUL: As he was talking about this black box, that's -- there were a lot of questions you've had, as well.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I went down to South Florida and spoke with a CEO of a company that buys commercial planes then refurbishes them and sells the parts including Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777. And they have one right now. And I asked him about the plane's data recorders and what is inside these things.


ABDUL MULBERRY, CEO, GA TELESIS: They consist of three parts. You've got the element which records and the power unit in the back.

BLACKWELL: Abdul, these are the beacons that are sending out these pings. Right?

MULBERRY: Yes. Yes, they are. There's a sensor on the sides here that are activated by water.


MULBERRY: And once those are activated, they will send out a ping signal that will be picked up by tracking devices that will look for these specific pings.

BLACKWELL: What's the possibility -- I'm seeing that these are just simple screws here that the beacon isn't connected to the black box, that it's -- they're in different places.

MULBERRY: Yes. Well, first and foremost, the beacon is self- contained. So it will -- it has its own power.


MULBERRY: So it is running on its own and if it's dislodged, it will still send out its signal and hopefully that's close to where the rest of the unit is. But these are put in the vertical stabilizer of the aircraft where it's typically the last part of an aircraft impact whatever it's impacting. So typically, these are very close to -- if not still attached to the aircraft. BLACKWELL: Now according to the new FAA regulations anyone after February who makes one of these has to increase the battery life from 30 days to 90 days. What is the impact on airlines?

MULBERRY: It won't be much. You know, the cost of a battery maybe a few thousand dollars, but in the overall sense of what it means to a search party looking for it, it makes all the difference in the world.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you this, do you think it's time to rethink the concept of the black box? Maybe during the flight, transmit via satellite or radio transmission, just the basic information about the flight and to store it somewhere on land?

MULBERRY: I think it definitely should happen. I think the challenge is, who does it, who pays for it and where is all that data stored? The world would have to get together and come up with something that would allow them to constantly track every movement of an aircraft.


BLACKWELL: You know, those FAA regulations we talked about also extend into 2018 requiring a stronger pinger to go, you know, lower frequency, farther distance but also attaching one to the airplane so that it would help the crews find the debris.

PAUL: Yes.


PAUL: Easier. Oh, boy.

BLACKWELL: So another element, another story now, victory quickly descended into violence last night.

PAUL: Look at this. More than a dozen people were arrested following Arizona's NCAA loss last night. What police did to try to subdue the crowd? We've got the pictures for you.


BLACKWELL: Police arrested at least 16 people overnight at the University of Arizona. Look at this. And this happened as the crowds, which became unruly, swarmed the streets in Tucson after Arizona lost to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament.

PAUL: Some people just take it very seriously.

BLACKWELL: Very seriously.

PAUL: Don't they? Police say people were hurling trash at officers. Officers responded, by the way, with pepper balls and canisters. Thankfully no serious injuries were recorded. But of course, Wisconsin fans, they had a little more to celebrate last night with their big win, which, of course earned them a ticket to this year's final four. BLACKWELL: So check out these massive Badger crowds in Madison. Now the Arizona/Wisconsin game was the second of two games Saturday in the NCAA Tournament. In the first game, Dayton put up a good fight against Florida.

PAUL: They tried. They tried.

BLACKWELL: They tried. They tried. But, I mean, they didn't have enough to continue the Cinderella run against, you know, the top- ranked team. Its final score, 62-52. Later today, Michigan State faces Connecticut followed by Michigan versus Kentucky, as well. The final four will kick off on April 5th.

PAUL: So the families of those missing aboard Flight 370 really showed their anger this morning while you were sleeping.

BLACKWELL: They're chanting we want evidence and we want truth. We'll tell you exactly what they're demanding from Malaysian authorities.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today on "INSIDE POLITICS," we catch up with two prominent politicians searching for the comeback trail. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is trying a media blitz, President Obama climbed on the world stage for among other things a big meeting with the Pope.

Plus, farmers, lawyers and a video camera and a huge political no-no. It's all ahead on "INSIDE POLITICS."

BLACKWELL: All right, John, thanks. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King is coming up this morning at 8:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: Overnight, this is what angry relatives of Chinese passengers on Flight 370 were doing. They were making sure their voices were heard. Chanting we need evidence. We need truth. This was at a fiery news conference today in Malaysia where the families from China have traveled to go back there. They're pleading for three things, they want answers from the Malaysian government and an apology for what they call confusing information as well as an apology for announcing that the plane crashed before finding any solid, tangible evidence of that.

So, I mean, their anguish is so evident in everything that we've seen from them. And the pain can be almost unbearable, especially in a situation like this where you don't have answers. So we can't even begin to imagine what they're going through.

BLACKWELL: And a lot of false leads as well. And remember that the grieving process is not just eating away at their spirit and it is difficult psychologically to deal with. It's also taking a toll on the body.

And CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more for us. Sanjay, good morning.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, I mean, there's no doubt there's a physical impact from all that you're seeing there, the grief. It's unimaginable. And everyone is going to react differently. Practically speaking, I mean, just people, not eating, not sleeping. You can see the potential collapse or fatigue there. But also things like your cortisol levels, stress hormone levels. Typically they go up and down in any given day.

But when you're going through what they're going through, you don't have that luxury so the stress levels are always high. Affects your heart rate, your blood pressure, and you also start to perceive what would otherwise be harmless threats as really dangerous.

There's something else that I think is very important. And it's this notion of what I found covering these stories around the world. This idea of the heroic period. This period where it's sort of like the whole world is helping you look for your loved ones, the whole world cares and is sharing in your hope and your optimism and in many ways going along on this journey with you.

The problem is, as you might guess, is that after that heroic period ends, the media stops paying attention, the searches are trying to slow down or get called off, that can be a very destructive period as you might imagine for these families, as well.

It's hard to say if some of these families will ever get complete closure. That's a hard thing to know. For some people they subconsciously get the closure, even if they don't consciously vocalize this. And a lot of times what happens is that the pain of simply not knowing grows greater than the pain of a loss itself. And that provides some sort of closure for them. But again, you know, it's unimaginable I think and heartbreaking to think about but that's a little bit, Christi and Victor, likely what they're going through.

PAUL: All right, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- thank you so much, Sanjay.

Reports of a massive Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine, you've got to wonder where this is going.

BLACKWELL: Well, later today a high-level meeting between U.S. and Russian diplomats about what could happen next.


BLACKWELL: Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet this evening in Paris. Now they're expected of course to talk about how to resolve the crisis in Ukraine peacefully. Right now you understand that tensions are high along the Ukrainian border. 40,000 Russian troops reportedly have gathered there.

PAUL: Senor international correspondent Jim Bitterman joining us now from Paris. So, Jim, I am really curious, what prompted President Putin to out-of- the-blue it seemed to most of us call President Obama and facilitate this? Is it the sanctions? Is it getting kicked out of the G-8? Do we have any indication on where we go from here?

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you have to ask President Putin that, basically we don't know as has been the case with most of his moves. We don't know why he amassed those troops there along the border either. So there really is no clear indication what has prompted him to apparently back off. We got some very positive signs, however, just in the last 48 hours after that phone call between Obama and Putin, 48 hours ago.

Now there is an interview that popped up in Moscow with the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Here's what he had to say.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We have absolutely no intention or interest to cross the border of Ukraine. We just really want to work collectively and want that lawlessness which Western countries are trying to hide and present in graceful colors in pink to stop so that they take on their responsibility.


BITTERMAN: Lavrov in fact sounded kind of conciliatory there. And he will be hopefully making those same kind of points when he meets with John Kerry later on this evening here in Paris. Kerry who was on his way back to the United States from the Middle East, in fact landed in Shannon in Ireland, turned the plane around, came down to Paris. He thought it was that important to meet with Lavrov so that meeting going to take place a few hours from now in Paris -- Victor and Christie.

BLACKWELL: All right, CNN's Jim Bitterman in Paris for us. Jim, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you. And thank you for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

PAUL: It is just about 8:00 on a Sunday morning so sit back and relax. You deserve it. You're allowed.


PAUL: I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. 5:00 out on the West Coast, this is NEW DAY SUNDAY. And this morning, new elements in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Of course, in this search area in the southern area of the Indian Ocean.

PAUL: It's such a massive effort this morning. Ten aircraft, several ships combing through the new search area. Right now some of them are on their way back and some have landed but they're trying to find any sign of that missing jet, as you know, that vanished 23 days ago.

One of the objects spotted yesterday we know by a Chinese ship, an orange object turned out to be a dead jelly fish. But there are some other suspicious objects we're told that were retrieved that do have yet to be identified.

BLACKWELL: And you know time is running out quickly. They used the pinger to find the plane's black box. An Australian ship, though, is being fitted with the U.S. Navy's black box detector. That ship is the Ocean Shield. It's expected to leave port tomorrow. Could take about three days depending upon the weather and few other factors to reach the search area.