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Source: MH370 Skirted Indonesian Radar; Ships Detect 3 Sounds in Plane Search

Aired April 6, 2014 - 07:30   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Half past the hour right now. I hope Sunday has been good to you. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. We like to welcome our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. You're watching CNN's special breaking coverage of missing Flight 370.

And we had two major breaking developments this morning, including startling new details about the jet's possible path. And this is from the senior Malaysian government official and that official tells CNN that Flight 370 may have been flown on purpose along a route designed to avoid radar detection.

PAUL: This comes from a new analysis of radar data that shows the plane flew north of Indonesia and around Indonesian air space after it made the mysterious left turn we were talking about and flew across the Malaysian peninsula.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And meantime, a British navy vessel is rushing to the area where a Chinese ship reported picking up twice electronic signals beneath the surface of the water there and an Australian ship picked up a separate acoustic noise, as they're calling it, about 300 nautical miles away.


ANGUS HOUSTON: Well, we have three separate acoustic events, two with Haixun 01 and another with Ocean Shield. We're treating both of them very seriously. We need to ensure before we leave any of those areas of detection that there is no connection to MH370. So, we will work in those locations until we can say yes or no.


PAUL: So, 13 ships and at least a dozen planes now trolling the search zone today and some of those are headed to that new area where the Chinese ship detected those pulse signals.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Erin McLaughlin is in Perth, Australia, for us. Erin, the Chinese technology, we saw this hydrophone. It doesn't appear to be especially sophisticated, but we just heard from Angus Houston that the Australians are taking this very seriously.

Tell us what you're seeing there as the Australians try to confirm or to verify that this acoustic event is from one of the pingers of the black boxes.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. They're taking this, this is the most promising lead that they've had so far. That, according to Houston.

So, as you mentioned there, he's taking it very seriously, so seriously that they're moving assets into the area to investigate the HMS Echo, now just hours away. And it's also significant they're saying because of the location Houston is saying that a team of international experts have received new information about the condition of that Inmarsat satellite, which has caused them to revise the speed at which they believe the speed was flying. They believe it was flying faster than previously thought.

So, they now think the probable area in which the plane went down had shifted to the south, which Houston says is actually pretty close to the area that the Chinese made this acoustic detection. Now, that being said, he is urging caution on all of this saying it all needs to be verified and it all needs to be investigated and that any sort of conclusions on this are days away -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Erin McLaughlin, thank you so much in Perth, Australia, for us. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in our experts now. Oceanographer and CNN analyst, David Gallo, CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, former NTSB managing director and CNN aviation analyst Peter Goelz.

David, I want to start with you about this hydrophone. Is it possible that this hydrophone which appears to have been dipped in the water at the surface could have picked up the ping from a black box thousands of feet below the surface?

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST (via telephone): Yes, hi, Victor. It's not impossible, let's put it that way. I had a chat with the representative of the company that builds them and they're looking at it very carefully because they're very interested in knowing how likely it is. So, it's one of these things we're going to have to wait and see, but it's not impossible. It's unlikely, yes. But impossible, no.

PAUL: David, we know the first signal they heard was only for a few seconds. The second was for at least a minute and a half. Is a minute and a half enough time to distinguish for certain at 37.5 kilohertz they would need to detect for analysts to determine it would be correct?

GALLO: Hi, Christi. Depending on which kind of recorder and what they're using, long enough, but hard to know exactly what they had. Again, one of these things where we will have to wait and see what kind of data they have.

BLACKWELL: Richard, there was a report of Chinese planes spotting floating objects, not calling them debris, but floating objects, 56 miles from where these -- these pulses were located.

Do you think that gives credence to possibly this black box being there? And why haven't we heard more, seen more of these objects? Plural, because we've seen I guess one photograph.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Angus Houston said last night that they were sending Royal Australian Air Force assets to go and have a look at that. But, of course, you're talking about four weeks since the plane went down. And you've got to work out what the distance in that period of debris be sufficient or would it be further?

I think what's really crucial to bear in mind at this juncture is what Houston said again and again and again. Any credible piece of evidence, whether it's the white pieces of objects on the water or it's what Ocean Shield is listening to at the moment underwater, the acoustic event, or it's the double pings coming from the Chinese must be taken seriously. Very seriously in Houston's words.

It's important. It must be given priority. And what is fascinating now, of course, as you've been talking about this morning is that the JACC, the Joint Agency Coordinating Center, the Australians, they are now having lots of priorities. And so, they have to find the priorities within the priorities.

And I would imagine the priority, if you like, has to be the pingers because the pingers are on a very tight time scale and they are disintegrating -- all their integrity is disintegrating fast.

PAUL: Peter, the other thing we're watching is this new flight path. The senior Malaysian official saying that it seems to be intentionally avoiding radar detection. Do you see any reason based on what they have reported to indicate that that flight path still could have been a mechanical issue or do you see it the way they calibrated it to be absolutely intentional?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST (via telephone): Well, I think, I think these are desperate hours. You know, the pingers are slowly dying. The group is desperate to find a lead to find these black boxes.

On terms of the path, it does look very suspicious. If this path is accurate, if the Malaysians can show us the radar tracking, the primary tracking, which is very difficult to track and it looks as though the aircraft avoid Indonesian space and that's been a question from the beginning is where were the Indonesians, what did they see? They have been quiet.

So, this answers -- this starts to answer the question and if they did avoid the air space, it really is a very huge piece of evidence that indicates that something was going on in the cockpit that was deliberate and we've long suspected that, but we haven't had the evidence.

BLACKWELL: David, when we saw, when we receive the coordinates yesterday at this time of where they reportedly heard these pulses or detected these pulse signals, those were outside of the search areas for the day. Knowing what we do know now about this adjusted path, here it is. Knowing what we do about the currents and what you know about this area of the world, do you think that they were right all along to be in that area or was it if it's accurate just luck that they picked this up in this area?

GALLO: Yes, I don't know what possessed them to go into that area, but seems this new calculation that I guess they may have gotten it right and they will have to see what pans out after the further investigation of those pings. But it's all pretty interesting.

PAUL: All righty. David Gallo, Richard Quest, Peter Goelz, thank you all so much for sharing your expertise with us. Good to hear you today.

And still to come, how deep is the ocean? Is the next question in this new area. Again, we're talking about this new area where those pulse signals were heard. And what does it mean for search teams?


BLACKWELL: The major development overnight in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is from officials saying that the flight may have deliberately tried to avoid Indonesia's air space.

PAUL: Also, Chinese and Australian vessels have separately detected unidentified pulse signals in the southern Indian Ocean. They're similar to those emitted by black box pingers, but they still don't know if it came from the missing plane.

BLACKWELL: And you see that hydrophone that Chinese officials kind of dip under to the water there.

CNN's Jennifer Gray is in our severe weather center.

Jennifer, how deep is the ocean where these sounds were reportedly detected?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is very, very deep. Some areas could be as deep as 14,000 feet or even more. Let's start on the surface, though, and this area that they're searching is 83,000 square miles. That's roughly the size of Utah. I'm going to show you these depths, I'm going to show you some of these features underwater.

But just keep in mind, there's so little we know about the Indian Ocean and we don't know exactly where it is. So, these could be off a little bit, but I just want to show you some of the features that we are going to be dealing with. We do know a broken ridge and a plateau in the areas that they are searching. Take you under the water now and look -- some areas 16,400 feet where that ping is detected, estimated to be about 14,000 feet below the surface. Some of the deepest amounts up to 20,000 feet and then you have this plateau that raises up to about 10,000 feet. So, these are very, very deep features.

I also want to put this in perspective for you. This is incredible. We picked some of the tallest structures in the world and look at this. The Eiffel Tower stands at about 1,000 feet.

This is 13,000 feet. This is the perspective. You have to stack 10 to 13 on top of each other to equal the depth of where we're talking about the Empire State Building 10,000 feet and that still looks so tiny compared to the depth of the Indian Ocean. Mt. Washington stands at more than 6,000 feet and you would have to stack two of those on top of each other to get to the depths that we're talking about.

So, this is going to be a huge, huge feat if this is where they are going to have to go look for this recorder.

I also want to touch on the weather because we have been watching this tropical cyclone, it is to the west of the search area. It is going to be traveling to the south and to the east over the next couple of days. That ping was heard right here with that little dot is. So, it is very far away. We're talking a couple hundred miles or so.

So, it's really not going to have a direct effect. We are going to see waves of about 16 feet right where that center is, but around it not so bad. We could be dealing with a little bit of cloud cover out there, maybe some off and on showers, guys.

Overall the weather in this area is going to be pretty decent, maybe a couple swells and we know that that is not a good thing because those ships are having to drag those devices to hear for that ping. But all in all, better than what we've seen a couple weeks ago.

PAUL: Good news for them. All right. Hey, Jennifer, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Jennifer.

You know, there's been a lot of talk this morning about the analysis and the flight path and the technology, but let's not forget about the families, the families of those onboard Flight 370. They are continuing to hold on to hope.

PAUL: And they're what this is all about at the end of the day right now. Many of them, much like many of you still believe this plane is intact with all passengers still alive.


SARA BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: I think I've come to a realization that for sure the flight is in tact and the passengers are still alive because the sequence of information that we've been given actually all points to that, and that was the common theme at the meeting with the families. I believe all the other families feel the same way that I do.




HOUSTON: We need to keep at the forefront of our minds the families and friends of the 239 passengers who were on board the flight. Speculation and unconfirmed reports can see the loved ones of the passengers put through terrible stress and I don't want to put any further -- put them under any further emotional distress at this very difficult time.


PAUL: Yes, just cannot even begin to fathom the spectrum that these people have been on of emotions. And in that, we are following a couple major developments this morning in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as well, coming from Australia and from Malaysian authorities.

A source tells CNN whoever was in control of this cockpit when the plane vanished may have tried to avoid radar detection by skirting the coast of Indonesia.

BLACKWELL: And right now, a British naval vessel, the HMS Echo, is headed to the search zone where Chinese crews detected, reportedly, two pulse signals that matched the frequency of the plane's beacons.

But there are still a lot of families that are skeptical.

And CNN's Pauline Chiou has the latest on that angle from Beijing.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, the Chinese families here in Beijing are aware of the latest developments with these possible pings. Many of them watched the news conference out of Australia.

But in general, the families are exercising caution because there have been so many false leads in the past. With one relative saying, yes, this is a new clue but there seem to be new clues every day. So let's just wait until there's some sort of confirmation.

Now, the Chinese government is worried about the health and the emotional state of many of these relatives because they're exhausted. They've been suffering. They're frustrated. So the Chinese government has offered to take any of them to the outskirts of Beijing for some fresh air on Sunday and also to get some health checks at a sanatorium.

Some of them have taken advantage of this offer, especially knowing they won't get any definite data, definite confirmation about these possible pings until Monday at the earliest -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Pauline Chiou in Beijing, thank you. PAUL: "INSIDE POLITICS" is up for you later this morning.

BLACKWELL: Let's check in with CNN's John King in Washington for what's coming up.

Hey, John.

JOHN KING, "INSIDE POLITICS" HOST: Christi and Victor, good morning.

Ahead on "INSIDE POLITICS" for a change, President Obama has a pretty good week. So, are things looking better or at least less gloom for his fellow Democrats and the mid-terms?

Also, a potential problem for Chris Christie that has little to do with bridges and traffic jams.

Plus, Hillary Clinton's advice to women candidates. Maybe a hint?

Christi and Victor, we'll see you in a few.

BLACKWELL: All right, John. And catch "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" coming up this morning at 8:30 Eastern here on CNN.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: This morning, a Malaysian official is saying that flight 370 may have deliberately skirted around Indonesian airspace to avoid being seen on radar.

Also, a Chinese patrol ship has detected two pulse signals coming from the search area. It's not confirmed yet if they are from the missing plane.

PAUL: We do know naval vessels carrying sophisticated black box detectors are on their way right now to that south part of the Indian Ocean.

But let's go to Kuala Lumpur right now, too, to CNN's Joe Johns.

Joe, this new route looks as though the plane was deliberately trying to avoid radar detection, so they say. So what does this mean from the investigation and where it goes from here? Is there a strategy change or shift in any way?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in all likelihood they've been looking at this all the time, but this does create an inference that the investigators have that still can be overcome of course that someone in the cockpit with command and control still intentionally took that plane in a direction that skirted Indonesian airspace.

The question is why. Investigators would ask whether it was done, plain and simple, to avoid detection by Indonesian radar.

So, this is a piece of information that tells us why the authorities continue to look closely at the crew onboard Flight 370. It points away from theories that the plane, for example, was somehow flying on auto pilot. It also gives authorities reason to ask whether someone at the controls of the plane was attempting to conceal it from the detection I think of Indonesian radar.

BLACKWELL: So, Joe, what does this mean as it relates to the theory that this could have been, or maybe not, a mechanical problem? Is that ruled out completely now?

JOHNS: I don't think anything is ruled out but clearly this is still a criminal investigation. The authorities have been telling us that. It is pretty clear from the information the authorities have had for some time. But it does tell us why the authorities have been saying this is a criminal investigation.

They've been looking at other avenues of inquiry, hijacking, sabotage, personal problems, psychological problems and all of those things remain in play.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joe Johns reporting for us live in Kuala Lumpur -- thank you, Joe.

PAUL: And thank you for starting your morning with us. We're so grateful to have your company.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: I hope Sunday has been good to you. We're so glad to have you with us here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Eight o'clock here on the East Coast, 5:00 out West.

Thank you for joining us of our special breaking news coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

PAUL: Want to begin with two of the major breaking developments from overnight.