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Two Signals Called "Most Promising Lead" Yet; Oscar Pistorius Takes the Stand

Aired April 7, 2014 - 08:00   ET



HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING TRANSPORT MINISTER: We are cautiously hopeful that there will be a positive development in the next few days, if not hours.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: Has the pinger been picked up with only days left on the battery? The Australians detecting what maybe the black box from Flight 370 with only days left on battery. The race now to find it. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New twist. A Malaysian official telling CNN the plane's path avoided Indonesia and may have done so deliberately to avoid radar. The latest on the investigation.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, Oscar Pistorius on the stand in his own defense, apologizing to the family of his girlfriend who he shot and killed. We have his dramatic testimony.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


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

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY.

Breaking overnight, signals from the Indian Ocean have been picked up by pinger locators in the search for Malaysia Flight 370. The yellow dot here to the south, as you can see, that is where Chinese crews found signals over the weekend. Then when you look just a little more north, that is where an Australian ship, the Ocean Shield, picked up its signals. The frequencies are consistent with those given off by black boxes. But officials are still, of course, urging caution until this source is confirmed -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Now, even if the signal is picked up again, that will still be the easy part. The hard part is how they're going to figure out how to get almost three miles down to pick up whatever is sending that signal.

Let's start our coverage with Erin McLaughlin. She's live in Perth, Australia -- Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. In the 11th hour, they made an extraordinary discovery that's bringing new hope to the search for missing Malaysian Flight 370.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): A month into the search for Flight 370, Malaysian officials announce what they describe as the most promising lead yet.

HUSSEIN: The towed pinger locator on the HMAS Ocean Shield has detected signals consistent with those emitted by aircraft black boxes.

MCLAUGHLIN: Today, Australian authorities say those signals are consistent with transmissions from the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

ANGUS HOUSTON, CHIEF COORDINATOR, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTER: The audible signal sounds to me just look an emergency locator beacon.

MCLAUGHLIN: The Ocean Shield picked up two distinct pinger returns here in the northern part of the search area. These signals detected more than 370 miles away from the area, where a Chinese ship picked two audio signals on Saturday.

Britain's HMS Echo has been moved there to investigate. They do not believe it's related to the Ocean Shield find.

HOUSTON: I would say it's unlikely, that they're the same event, but in deep water, funny things happen with acoustic signals.

MCLAUGHLIN: Officials stress they need to find wreckage before they can confirm any of these pings are related to the missing plane.

HOUSTON: We haven't found the aircraft yet. We need further confirmation.


MCLAUGHLIN: Right now, the Australian Ocean Shield is still out there, searching for a third acoustic event in the hopes that they will be able to narrow down a potential search field and deploy an underwater drone to look for wreckage. Only then will we know for sure if this is related to the missing plane -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Erin.

Let's break down, Richard Quest, what we know --


CUOMO: What we're hoping for.

QUEST: Sure.

CUOJMO: And what is a little screwy. We'll get to the last about this new flight path, or why they took the flight path.

So, what do we know about where they're searching and the success they had and why?

QUEST: We need to start by saying that is Ocean Shield, and that is Haixun 01. So, that is Ocean Shield, that is Haixun 01. And if we animate, as you can see the arc, the first thing to note is that we're absolutely on the right arc. It's clearly there, so it's on the southern corridor. The northern part of it, but it's exactly where it's supposed to be.

Now, from there, we've had two events at Ocean Shield. Two events, one of more than two hours. And that is exactly what they wanted to hear, because it's not just enough to here the beep, beep, for a little bit. You need to hear it for a sustained period of time to show that it's continuous which is what the pinger does.

CUOMO: So, the reason they're setting aside the Chinese finding right now is more practical than political. It's about the duration, sustained nature of what they picked up, right?

QUEST: Absolutely. And also, there are not many to recreate one. They heard that twice, once for two hours and minutes and the other for 13 minutes. It will take them several hours to turn Ocean Shield around and go back again to have another listen.

CUOMO: It's a big ship also because they are dragging something over a mile of cord behind them.

QUEST: Absolutely.

Now, let's see what happens when they do that. Once they've actually got the next confirmed hearing of the pinging, then they can start to deploy the underwater submersibles. Then they can actually start to put these into the water.

CUOMO: No easy task.

QUEST: No easy task, and because the depth at tens of thousands of feet, 4,000 meters, that sort of depth, it is actually at the extremity of the availability and the ability of these machines to get down that far. But they are very encouraged.

I think that's what you've got to keep remembering this morning. If the way in which Angus Houston talked about very promising, the most promising lead, optimistic, all those sort of phrases were used, more so than perhaps they were saying when they were talking about Haixun 01's discovery.

CUOMO: All right. So, now, the part where we have to check ourselves is this is very promising, but it's going to take time for them to get to this point where they can even start looking on the bottom of the ocean.

QUEST: And what is troubling is no debris. No debris has been found in this area.

CUOMO: Usually, you find the debris first and then start listening.

QUEST: Correct. Since no debris has been found, it does raise the question, what is there? Was the debris there and it's simply dissipated because it's been more than a month.

CUOMO: Which is possible.

QUEST: Was there not much debris to start with because of the way the plane went in relatively intact.

CUOMO: Relatively intact.

QUEST: Even then so the lack of debris is troubling --

CUOMO: And yet the gyre in this region of the Indian Ocean, right, that big circular current, they could have taken away.

QUEST: Right.

And we must on the allow ourselves to be distracted by seismic air guns and the like, and possible whales and other things. They've got to keep firmly on what they know in that particular area.

CUOMO: You were very high on the seismic air gun, though, earlier in the morning, I must say.

QUEST: Perhaps I was, but I can be wrong on that as well.

CUOMO: No, no, never. Never seen it yet.

Now, speaking of being wrong, all right. Let us segue into what is now being discussed. We did know that they believe that the plane made a left, went over Kuala Lumpur, over the Strait of Malacca, into the China Sea and started to come south. They're still saying that.

But now, they seem to have a new spin on what they think happened and why. Tell us.

QUEST: If you see the way the map shows it, what it shows is it goes out from K.L., around and it's this bit here that becomes crucially important. The way in which it comes around, if we close it, you'll see it in more detail, it obviously skirts the northern part of Indonesia, and it does so -- we know because they've said they believe the plane is being flown in a deliberate fashion.

CUOMO: They've been saying that since the beginning. So, it confirms that this is more likely to have been done by human hand than by accident, but why? Where do they have on that?

QUEST: Well, was it to avoid Indonesian radar or, as someone like myself tend to view, was it simply to avoid going over the land mass of Indonesia itself.

CUOMO: How would a pilot know what the outer range of radar was? Why wouldn't that be about flying low versus flying wide? Where's the proof of any nefarious intent?

QUEST: Les Abend makes the point that he doesn't know where radar coverage ends and begins, and since transponder was off anyway, he couldn't tell if he was being interrogated by radar.

See, here is the difficult part. Thailand clearly picked up -- we know Thailand picked up on the radar.

CUOMO: Right.

QUEST: We know Malaysia picked up on radar. Incidentally, did nothing about it, but still picked up. Indonesia has come out in response to CNN questions and said they did not have any site or sound of MH370.

CUOMO: Well, at least it confirms they would be telling the truth if this scenario is accurate.

QUEST: Absolutely.

So, whatever reason why, I have always said -- you know me. I go through mechanicals, nefarious backwards and forwards on this. I'm still not entirely convinced. But the fact of the deliberate nature of the rounding of Indonesia speaks volumes because they know that is accurate.

CUOMO: I don't know anything when it comes to aviation, but I do know investigation. I still feel there's no basis for understanding of nefarious intent or what was done by pilots in this situation that warrants leading the families down this corridor of belief by authorities and also smearing the pilots without evidence at this point.

QUEST: I always say it flew this direction. It came down here. They're looking in that area and we're best leaving it there for the moment.

CUOMO: That's right. The most important thing is to find it. We can leave all the questions until that --

QUEST: Plenty of time to answer.

CUOMO: Richard quest, thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: All right. More breaking news this hour. A possible make- or-break day in court for track star Oscar Pistorius. He's testifying in his own defense at this murder trial right now. Through tears, he immediately apologized when he took the stand to Reeva Steenkamp's family assuring them he was loved the night she was killed. He also said he was simply trying to protect her. Robyn Curnow has been following all the developments from Pretoria, South Africa -- Robyn.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, after that very tearful apology to the family, Oscar Pistorius also describing he's on antidepressants, that he needs sleeping pills, that he still has a very emotional reaction to the event of Valentine's Day.


OSCAR PISTORIUS, OLYMPIC RUNNER: I'd like to apologize and say there's a lot of moments and there hasn't been a moment. Since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family. I wake up every morning and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I've caused you and your family.

I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night where I wake up and I can smell the blood and I wake up to being terrified. I wake up just in a complete state of terror, to a point that I'd rather not sleep -- than fall asleep and wake up, my sister stays in on the same property I do so I can phone her in the middle of the night, which I often do, to come in and sit by me. So, I don't want to handle the firearm again or be around a firearm.


PISTORIUS: So, we're not just seeing and hearing about his emotional state. We're also getting a sense of the kind of man he is. He described how when he was a child his mother used to keep a gun under her pillow. That she, too, was fearful of intruders, particularly when his dad was traveling away for work.

So, what we're seeing now is the defense's case slowly being built here and built around the premise that Oscar Pistorius is scared and vulnerable, particularly when he doesn't have a prosthetics and that's an indication of the reason why he acted like he did on Valentine's Day.

Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Robyn Curnow, thank you so much.

A lot to learn. Court is back in session as we speak. So, we'll be getting you updates throughout the morning.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at more of your headlines now at almost quarter after the hour.

Overnight, a large and dangerous tornado touched down in Mississippi, six miles north of Collins and about 60 miles southeast of Jackson. Officials say several people suffered minor injuries and multiple homes have been damaged. A 9-year-old girl has been reported missing, meanwhile, in the storms. It is believed she was swept away by flash flood waters. Russian media is reporting protesters in one eastern Ukraine city have formed their own separate republic. They want to hold a referendum on whether to join the Russian Federation. This is one of three cities in Ukraine where pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings. Ukraine's prime minister says Moscow is trying to destabilize the nation.

Also this morning, Ukraine's defense ministry says a Russian soldier shot and killed a Ukrainian naval officer in Crimea. This is one of the few fatalities reported since Russia took control of the area.

Starting today, G.M. will repair 2.6 million vehicles to have the ignition switch replaced. The faulty ignition switch is linked to 13 deaths. G.M. announced the recall about two months ago, but admitted it knew of issues with the ignition switch as early as 2004.

President Obama is set to sign executive orders to close the wage gap for women. On Tuesday, the president will sign two orders, the first to prohibit federal contractors to take action against employees who openly discuss their wages. The second order will require them to provide worker compensation data organized by race and by gender.

These orders apply only to federal contracting and will give female workers a means to discover violations of a fair pay laws. Those are your headlines, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela. We're going to take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, the major break through in the search for Flight 370. Pings heard deep in the Indian Ocean. Is the mystery being solved? We're talking to our experts to get their take, coming up next.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

We're following breaking news this morning. Pings detected in the Indian Ocean that could be Flight 370's black box. Officials are calling this their most promising lead yet.

Let's break this down with Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. Also joining us, Miles O'Brien, CNN aviation analyst and science correspondent for PBS "NewsHour."

Good morning again to both of you.

Miles, I want to get your take as Mary and I talked about this earlier. I know where she stands on this. They call it their most promising lead yet. If it's not the pings from the black box, what else do you think it could logically be?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's hard to come up with a scenario. Again, this doesn't -- it's not a whale because of the intermittent nature of the pings and the predictable intermittent nature of the pings makes it pretty much a unique identifier. So, I don't think the natural world would provide us with anything that would match what they apparently are hearing, and the fact they were able to track it for more than two hours even gives it more credence.

BOLDUAN: And that goes to where I'd like to go with you next, Mary. Let's break this down even further. What about -- what evidence we have gotten so far with especially the Ocean Shield pings leads you towards this is it?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, there was another little piece that to me was most intriguing, and that is they had two distinct pings. Not just one, but two, which would lead credence to the theory that they had both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, and that here, they would have two different pingers on them. They said at one point, they were able to pick up the fact that there were two different ones.

So, if you had one sort of machines, say another ship in the area with some kind of device emitting a 37.5 megahertz signal with this one per second cycle, it would be unlikely you'd have two. So I think that the right megahertz, the right frequencies, the right repetition, one every second or almost every second, and then the fact that they got two of them really does get people thinking that you've got the plane and you've got both of them in relatively close proximity of each other.

BOLDUAN: On the flip side, Miles, is there anything here that doesn't fit at least to what we know so far? Is there anything that leaves a question in your mind if this is the black box?

O'BRIEN: I don't have many questions about it. The big question will be, of course, the difficulty in recovery. This particular flight path if this is, in fact, the location of the wreckage, would match some of the scenarios we predicted for a lower speed, lower altitude track which would have put it more to the northeast which is where, in fact, we found the wreckage.

What's really -- the big question on a lot of our minds in the aviation world is this remarkable fact that it's possible the wreckage is beneath the sea without anything floating on the surface. That's an extraordinary thing.

BOLDUAN: And that's exactly what I was going to follow up and ask both of you, Mary. You said it was possible -- I remember we talked about this a bit last week, at the end of last week. But what do you make of the fact that there is no debris field right now?

SCHIAVO: Well, it would be a rare event -- I think when we talked before I mentioned I used to teach aviation history. You know, the college students would be amazed that occasionally they would still find a plane intact from World War II on the bottom of a lake -- not usually an ocean. So, it's a very rare event but it still happens occasionally.

But in modern aviation, very rarely except with small light planes. You still find small light planes that alight on the water and then sink. And planes usually sink very fast. Remember "Miracle on the Hudson" with Sullenberger and Skiles on the controls, they quickly got ships out there and put ropes and cables on there. It didn't float forever, it floated long enough to get the team off. Literally they had lines on it very quickly to keep it from sinking.

So, it's a rare event. It's possible in history that it happened. But usually it breaks up.

BOLDUAN: And, Miles, this is the most promising lead they have yet, which is a great thing. What we also need to remember is they are still up against the clock in terms of the battery life on the flight data recorders, on the black box. If the battery would go out now, would you say that they are no closer to solving this because they still have not narrowed this search field?

O'BRIEN: Well, let's remember the range on these pingers is supposedly according to the manual about two miles. This is about three miles of depth there. So, already, we're at the very edge of their capability. So if you're hearing them you've honed in on a pretty good location.

So, even without pings, there's technology and submersibles that can go down. Maybe you have to get other submersibles that can go deeper. The ones on site, this would be right at the limits of their ability to dive, but you could get down there and using sonar technology, start mapping the ocean floor, and the wreckage will be quite obvious on a sonar return.

You know, remember Air France 447, they found that wreckage long after the pingers were silent if they ever worked at all.

BOLDUAN: That's good. But let's hope it's not two years before it happens in this case. Miles and Mary, thank you very much. Great to see you both as always.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, Kate. Let's take a quick break on NEW DAY. When we come back, the shocking new information on Flight 370's path. Suggestions the plane intentionally skirted Indonesia just to avoid radar. The question is why and what's the basis for that?

We have a military expert that will weigh in on that aspect of the investigation, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Breaking overnight in the search for Flight 370, two signals were picked up that are consistent with aircraft black boxes. This follows other new details about the path that the plane possibly took before it turned for the Indian Ocean. A senior Malaysian official tells CNN that the jet flew north of Indonesian air space and may have done so to avoid radar.

Let's focus on that. For more, let's bring in former adviser to the U.K. Ministry of Defense and retired lieutenant colonel of the British military, Michael Kay.

Michael, it's great to see you.


BOLDUAN: So, let's focus on this flight path. First, let's throw up that animation. From the beginning I'll tell you, Michael, they have said they believe the turn was deliberate in that obviously they made a left turn after they had gone over Malaysia to come on down.

What more are we learning here? What's your take on this new information?

KAY: Well, let's go from the point at which we think it turned.


KAY: I've always questioned the validity of the data coming from Malaysia in terms of how did they know it was Malaysian 370? Now, if they knew it was Malaysian 370 in this postwar order, post-9/11, you've got a wide body jet, it's got huge radar cross-section. And what that means, Kate, is it's a big blip on your screen. It's traveling about 300 miles an hour and going across the country, it's unidentified, it's not IFR flight plan, not BFR flight plan. What is it doing there?

I just can't believe if the Malaysians saw this and didn't know what it was, why they didn't interrogate it and ultimately put up fighter jets to have a look at it.

BOLDUAN: Let's throw up the new zoomed-in version of this flight path. It's the same flight path, but showing it going around the tip of Indonesia.

KAY: But it goes right across Malaysia there. I mean, if I was part of the Malaysian authorities and I had an unidentified airplane going across my country, I would be worried about that, especially after 9/11. So, that was my first question.

Now, if we look at where it's bending around to the south, there's a lot of conjecture about was it trying to avoid radar.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

KAY: What was it doing?

BOLDUAN: What's your take on it?

KAY: Territorial waters extend about 12 miles off the coast. Now, combined with territorial waters, enter national air space does the same thing. So, you reach international air space 12 miles from your sovereign territory. BOLDUAN: So, as a pilot you could know how far away from Indonesia you need to go to get into international waters?

KAY: Yes, it's 12 miles.


KAY: But the thing is, it's primary radar, this huge radar head that is at -