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Time Ticking Away to Find Flight 370; Malaysian Officials Give Update; Objects Found in Ocean Were Not Part of Flight; Is the Stock Market Rigged?

Aired March 31, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. Time is ticking away in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Crews now only have six days to find the plane's flight data recorder, six days before the so-called black box's batteries run out and it goes silent.

Right now at this very moment, planes and ships scouring the southern part of the Indian ocean. They are looking for any sign of the vanished jetliner. We have live, team coverage, breaking down the very latest clues and developments on the search this morning. The investigation into why the plane crashed, how the families are still waiting for answers and how they're holding up this morning.

And we have a live update from the Malaysian government. That will begin at any moment. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. About 31 minutes past the hour right now. We will bring you that briefing from Malaysia, all new developments, the minute it happens.

Meanwhile, the search for flight 370 ramping up as the amount of time left on the black box pingers ticks down. Ten aircraft, ten ships will be in the search zone today, but there was a big setback this morning. Four orange objects spotted on Sunday, there was a lot of hope about these objects, they turned out to be just fishing equipment, ocean junk, not related to flight 370.

This morning an Australian vessel, the Ocean Shield, will head to the search area carrying a high-tech U.S. Navy pinger detector that can scan under water, listening for the plane's black boxes.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Perth, Australia, with the latest on the search effort. Paula, what can you tell us this morning?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Well, again, that disappointing news that those four objects, indeed, was fishing equipment, not what they were looking for. I have to say what is significant is that the search is now involving so many ships in the area. And remember, they're the ones that are going to be able to get to sea level and investigate any kind of leads that are spotted in that search zone.

Today, Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, making it clear that so far, this search is open-ended. Now, he says, look, if this mystery can be solved, if it can be solved, they're the ones to solve it. And he also gave us a hint at how complicated this investigation is already. Take a listen.


TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER, AUSTRALIA: Everyone wants to get to the bottom of this mystery. Everyone is united in their common grief, in their common anxiety, to resolve this. I don't think we've got a whole lot of competing national pride at stake here. I think we've got at stake here a whole lot of people who just want to solve the problem.


NEWTON: You know, the problem here is that with so many ships and planes in the area, people are worrying and saying, look, are the crews getting tired? Are they getting discouraged? I can tell you, when they come off those planes, absolutely not. They are looking for those pieces of wreckage. They have the best equipment in the world now to try and help them. And of course, the families of those missing relatives hoping they come up with something.

BERMAN: Paula Newton. They believe in this mission. They're very much committed to it. Just looking for some sign of success. And so far, that has not come to them. Paula Newton in Australia.

ROMANS: The focus of the flight 370 investigation turning once again to the passengers and crew on board, leading to new speculation about possible terrorism. CNN's Jim Clancy live in Kuala Lumpur. Jim, you make such a good point. With so few facts, with so few new leads to follow, they have to go over and comb over what they do know. And what they do know is who was on that flight.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do know who was on the flight, they know who was in the crew. They can examine all of that.

You know, terrorism or a hijacking was in the very first days of this investigation right at the top. Now it has dropped down, but they want to be sure. They have to be sure. We're going to have a briefing, as you noted, coming up here any minute. And perhaps they will be asked about that, or perhaps they will make a comment about that, but they have reached out to intelligence agencies around the world -- China, the U.S., Britain -- trying to get them to go over the list once again to examine whether any of these people were using an alias, if any of these people were perhaps had ties to any kind of known terror group. They're really clutching at straws because there is so little to go on, but they also know they've got to exhaust every lead that they have in their hands. Otherwise, they will not have done their job. Christine?

ROMANS: Indeed. All right. And we continue to follow those clues. Thank you so much, Jim Clancy. BERMAN: And all of this, of course, so difficult for the families of those on board flight 370. They are in the middle of this agonizing wait for any word at this point of what happened to that plane.

The husband of one of the flight attendants on board, in what has got to be one of the most heartbreaking statements I have heard yet, told CNN it has been difficult to discuss with his children their missing mother.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I even promised them I'm going to bring her home, but I really don't know where she is now. And now I'm not sure whether I could bring her home. Of course, I'm still hoping for God's miracles, but just like, what we want is the reality, the true story.


BERMAN: So difficult to hear. And I should remind you, we are expecting a briefing any minute in Kuala Lumpur from Malaysian officials about the latest developments on the search for flight 370. The majority of those on board the flight, of course, are from China. Relatives from China continue to demand more information about the flight from the airline, also from the Malaysian government. CNN's Pauline Chiou, who's been spending so much time with these families, is live in Beijing for us this morning. Good morning, Pauline.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Well, the families are right now meeting with a technical team here in Beijing. They're asking for the maintenance and repair records of MH- 370, because they want to see for themselves how well it was maintained and whether or not there were certain mistakes possibly made in maintenance or repairs. But the officials here, the Malaysian officials are saying we can't hand over those documents because there's an investigation going on.

Now, about a half hour before the briefing started, there was a moment of silence --

BERMAN: Pauline.

CHIOU: -- a moment of medication, a candlelight vigil.

BERMAN: Pauline, I'm going to stop you now because the briefing in Malaysia has begun. That is the minister of defense and minister of transportation, Hishammuddin Hussein. He has been giving all the latest developments every day on the investigation into what happened to flight 370. Let's listen to the latest this morning.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: Before I begin this briefing, I would like to reiterate what Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said this morning. The international cooperation underway in the search for MH-370 is nothing short of tremendous. The militaries of Malaysia, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, China, Japan and Korea are all working hand in glove to find the missing plane.

I should also like to point out that Indonesia has given clearance for 94 authorities, aircraft from nine different countries, to fly in their (ph) air space as part of this search.

As Prime Minister Abbott said, it is heartening to see so many different countries working together for a humanitarian cause, to resolve this extraordinary mystery and to bring closure for the families of those involved.

This morning, the prime minister spoke with Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. Prime Minister Abbott gave a full update on the status of the search operations headed out of Perth. Our prime minister has decided to travel to Perth on Wednesday for a working visit to Pearce (ph) Air Force base to see the operations firsthand and also to thank the personnel involved in the multinational search effort, including the Malaysian personnel.

This afternoon, the Australian (ph) high commissioner to Malaysia briefed me on the creation of a new joint agency coordination center, JACC, which will be based out of Pearce Air Force base in Perth. The JACC will be headed by an air marshal retired Angus Houston, the former chief of the defense force Australia. The JACC will coordinate operations between all Australian government agencies and international search teams.

As per the information that we have received from the Australian authorities, the area of search today is 254,000 square kilometers. Today, nine military aircraft and one civilian aircraft traveled to the search area. These planes are two Malaysian C-130s, one Chinese Illusion Il-76, one Japanese coast guard G-5, one Australian P-3 Orion, one New Zealand P-3 Orion, one New Zealand civilian aircraft, one American P-8 Poseidon, one Japanese P-3 Orrin and one Korean P-3 Orion.

To date, 11 ships were also deployed to the search area, and there are eight (ph) Chinese ships, the Hyko, the Jinggok, the Haishin, the Donghaiju. three Australian ships, the HMAS Success, the HMAS (INAUDIBLE) and a merchant vessel, which is currently transiting in the search area.

The Malaysian ship is expected to arrive in the search area on the third of April. The ADB Ocean Shield fitted with a towed pinger locator and a Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle is due to arrive in the search area on the third of April.

In terms of sightings of potential objects, on Saturday, five objects were retrieved by HMAS Success and the Haisun. however it was found none of these objects were related to MH-370. On Sunday, an Australian P-3 Orion made visual sighting of seven potential objects. The Korean P-3 Orion also made visuals of three potential objects. The Chinese ship the Haisun was tasked on Monday to retrieve these potential objects.

In my capacity as Malaysian defense minister, I will leave tonight for the United States pacific command in Hawaii. I will attend the ASEAN defense ministers meeting, which will be held from the first to the third of April.

The meeting has been convened by U.S. Secretary Chuck Hagel. On behalf of the Malaysian government, I will share with my ASEAN counterparts and the government of the United States the latest developments regarding the search of MH-370. I will convey to our ASEAN neighbors and the United States Malaysia's utmost appreciation for their invaluable help in the multinational search effort.

I will also use this opportunity to discuss the possibility of deploying more specific military assets in the event that we need to embark on a more complex (ph) phase of the operation.

I shall be discussing with the United States and our other friends and allies how best we can acquire the assets needed for possible deep-sea search and recovery. Today I held a meeting with the nations special envoy and special adviser to the foreign minister Wiwiek Setyawati. The delegation included his excellency, Mr. Herman Prayitno the ambassador of Indonesia to Malaysia.

The special envoy expressed heartfelt gratitude to the government of Malaysia and the multinational team conducting the search operation and the special envoy also stated that Indonesia fully understands the complexity and the magnitude of the challenge ahead and reaffirms its unshakable support for Malaysia.

Yesterday, a group of families whose loved ones were on board MH-370 arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Beijing. The government is due to hold a high-level briefing soon for these families to update them on the latest developments regarding the search for MH-370. The briefing will include international experts who are not available during the briefings in Beijing, including experts from China. It will also be broadcasted live to other families in Beijing.

The search for MH-370 continues to be a large, complex, multinational effort involving many countries and international agencies. Much of the research has been used to track MH-370 has been provided to the Malaysian investigators by our international partners. This research is extremely complicated, involving teams of highly specialized experts, many of whom are based in different countries around the world.

The briefing will provide an opportunity for the families to hear directly from some of these experts. The experts will be able to explain the research, the data, and the methodology that has informed the search operations.

Ladies and gentlemen, we understand that it has been a difficult time for all the families, and we appreciate that many families want to see physical evidence before they will accept that MH-370 ended in the south Indian ocean. We find ourselves in a difficult position, and I repeat the question that the families principally want answered, is the question we simply do not have the answer to, namely, where their loved ones are and where is MH-370.

On Saturday, I met with the Malaysian and Chinese families based in Kuala Lumpur. It was the most difficult meeting I have ever attended. The families are heartbroken. For many, the strain of the past few weeks have been unbearable, but the one message they delivered to me again and again is not to give up hope.

And I promised the families that Malaysia, working with our international partners, will not give up hope. We will continue with all our efforts to find MH-370. This is a promise that Malaysia intends to keep. We will continue searching and we will keep investigating and we will never give up until we find out what happened to MH-370. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, members of the media, the floor is now open for Q&A session. We will start with local media first. Please.




BERMAN: All right, you've been watching a briefing from the Malaysian minister of defense, Hishammuddin Hussein, he is also the current minister of transportation, giving the latest updates on the search for flight 370, confirming what we've been reporting all morning, that five objects spotted on Saturday by plane have now been picked up by ship, unrelated to flight 370.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: He did say that ten new objects spotted by plane on Sunday, they're still awaiting for confirmation about whether those objects might be connected in some way to the flight.

ROMANS: But the bottom line, he said the question that the families have been asking him, where are our loved ones, where is MH-370, he said we don't have that answer. Still do not have that answer.

Let's get a check now of the weather in the search area. Indra Petersons is here with that, because you have now assets deployed for this search, ten aircraft in the air now looking for anything that they can. Tell us about the weather.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, one of the key ingredients I want to remind everyone is they've actually changed that search area. Why I keep reminding you of this is because a lot changes weather-wise. Now that you're farther not north, you don't have the stronger currents farther south and also the stronger winds that are farther to the south. Now that we're continuing to go farther north, conditions are a little bit milder.

With that said, there still has been a storm in the region. You can actually see the satellite here over the last 24 hours or so, so there have been stormy conditions that have limited visibility throughout the area. Still another storm expected in the region for about the next 48 hours or so. So, with that, every time you start to see those winds kind of kick up, generally speaking, you'll start to see larger waves. Generally about 10, 20-mile-per-hour winds, but just farther to the south, once in a while you will start to get some of those stronger winds and, of course, some of the higher wave heights corresponding with that. You can also notice as that system kind of makes its way through, there will be periods of poor visibility as well. Not a major storm, but just enough, as you mentioned, very difficult to see any time the clouds kick on through.

BERMAN: Clouds creating chop on the water, too. Difficult to see things from the air.

Again, we've been following a briefing all morning. In the last few minutes, the Malaysian minister of defense with the latest developments on the search for missing flight 370. We'll bring you up to speed right after this.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Search planes and search ships back in the water at this moment searching for flight 370. However, time is running out. The black box pingers may only have another six days of life left in them before they run out, and what officials thought were promising leads, orange objects floating in the ocean that were spotted on Saturday, they turned out to be a bunch of fishing junk, not part of the airplane.

Romans: Let's bring in Erik van Sebille, he's a physical oceanographer, a research fellow, a lecturer in New South Wales in Sydney. He's giving us insight into what these oceans are like. You point out where they're searching now is more like the Caribbean and less like the just really rough seas that were some 700 miles south of there. But the search area is still so big.

Is it feasible in much calmer seas, is it feasible to find these data recorders in such a big zone? They need to narrow that zone, don't they?

ERIK VAN SEBILLE, OCEANOGRAPHER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, at the surface, you can search quite a large area, but as soon as you go down into the ocean, you really can only use sonar, which is not a very effective way of searching. So, the smaller we can make this search area, the more dedicated and the more focused we can search, the better our chances of actually finding something.

BERMAN: Erik, give me a sense of the type of trash that exists in this new search area.


BERMAN: My understanding is there just is much more debris in this area to begin with, which is making spotting something connected to the plane much more difficult.

VAN SEBILLE: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, we're here on the edges of what we call the garbage patch of the Indian ocean. And that's just a zone where everything we throw in the ocean and that doesn't decay, which is almost all plastics or all fishing gear, accumulates. It starts building up there, and it floats there for tens, maybe hundreds of years it stays in the ocean. And what you can find there is really anything you've ever seen in a junkyard, right? It's all the way from floating beach balls to rubber duckies to maybe fishing gear to things like refrigerators. Everything that is buoyant enough not to sink will just stay on the ocean there.

ROMANS: Floating garbage patch. Erik Van Sebille, thank you so much for your insight this morning.

BERMAN: We'll have more on the latest for the search as well as the other top headlines, a lot happening in the world, right after the break.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Money time. This is the end of the first quarter for stocks, and it looks like a solid day to end the first quarter. Global stocks are higher. You can see all of those reads right there and futures. Dow futures up 53 points right now. So, progress for you, on the progress report on the year, the S&P is up about 0.5 percent so far for the year, the Dow is down 1.5 percent. That's all after a major, mega run last year.

I feel like the stock market is rigged against you? Financial author Michael Lewis, who wrote sort of the bible of Wall Street, of the old ways to wall street, well, he says you're right! He talked to "60 Minutes" yesterday about his new book "Flash Ploys," which explains how the high-tech Wall Street firms have advantages over investors like you and me.

Here's how: say you invest in a mutual fund and the fund goes to buy a stock, high-tech traders see the buy order and use complex algorithms to cut you in line, buy a lot of shares of the stock ahead of you, drive up the price you pay. Then the flash traders sell it for a profit at the expense of you and me and by flash traders I mean the flash is so fast, some of the algorithms, algos they call them, are so fast, by the time you decided to buy a stock, they've already made maybe 1,000 moves.

BERMAN: Doesn't sound fair. It is the last day of the quarter, also the first day of baseball season. It is opening day. And I think we can all agree, go Red Sox.


BERMAN: Thank you very much. NEW DAY starts right now.

ROMANS: Did you just get me to agree to go Red Sox?

BERMAN: You said it!


ABBOTT: The effort is ramping up, not winding down.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the race is find flight 370 is increasing in intensity. What is it like to search? See for yourself. Special access alongside a ship hunting for debris. And an exclusive interview with the Australian prime minister. What he says about when it will be time to give up.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, hundreds of shots fired between north and South Korea as a military drill in the north gets too real. Residents rushed to shelters. We're live with the very latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: What did they know? The investigation into those faulty switches on GM cars grows. Did the company know the switches weren't up to specifications when they installed them? New details this morning.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ABBOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, Up first, for you, racing against the clock to find flight 370. The search is now in its fourth week. That means there are just days remaining before the 30 day batter life of the black box expires, that is if it hasn't already.