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The Mystery of Flight 370; Pistorius on Trial; Crisis in Ukraine

Aired April 9, 2014 - 05:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. New clues in the search for missing Malaysia jetliner 370. New -- two new signals detected under water from what investigators believe could be the plane's black boxes. Right now we've got an intense search under way to find those recorders before their batteries run out. Search leaders are now saying they may find this flight, this plane within days.

We have live team coverage breaking down the very latest.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, happening right now in South Africa. This could be the most crucial moment in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius. He is on the stand facing blistering questions from prosecutors.

How is he holding up? We're live with what he's saying this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. A lot going on right now. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour. So let's get right to the breaking news in the search for the Flight 370. Overnight words from Australia search crews, search crews have heard two new signals, possibly from the missing jet's black boxes.

Now these signals were weaker -- weaker than they had been just a few days earlier. They only lasted for a few minutes but now the head of the search is optimistic. This could be the information they need to track down the wreckage in a matter of days.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Perth for us with the latest on the search. We just had a guest who told us he thinks that these -- these searchers, that the investigators, that this team, that they are close. They might be even closer than they let on -- Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's possible, Christine. This is certainly very promising news. Angus Houston is the man responsible for coordinating this international search effort. He's only been on the job over a week now, but he says he is more optimistic than he's ever been before. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANGUS HOUSTON, CHIEF COORDINATOR, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTRE: If you had asked me, let's say, when I arrived last Sunday night, I would have been probably more pessimistic than I am now. I'm now optimistic that we will -- we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft in the not too distant future.


MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Houston went on to say that these new detections, the signal, was actually weaker than the detections made on Saturday which he said is significant. Most likely because the batteries associated with the black box pinger are expiring. They have a shelf life of some 30 days and we're now on day 33.

So this search effort currently focusing on the Australian vessel the Ocean Shield that's still out there searching 24/7 with that American- operated towed ping locator trying to detect this signal. Again, if they're successful, they'll get more information. That's really the goal here, to get more information that they can use to narrow down a potential search field.

Only when they are sure that that battery associated with the black box pingers has expired will they deploy the Bluefin 21, the American- provided underwater autonomous vehicle that's capable of searching the sea beds for any signs of wreckage. And then only then will we know for sure if these signals have anything to do with the missing plane -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Great reporting, Erin, from Perth.

And again 30 days is the certification for those batteries, John Berman. But aviation experts telling us this morning maybe they could last for 40 days with the way that 777 is overengineered.

BERMAN: And they'll use these next few days to try to detect more pings because that will be key in narrowing down the search area.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: And make their job so much easier. And of course all this matters in the investigation to piece together what happened to Flight 370. And now this new information does give some new optimism to investigators in Malaysia.

Let's get the latest from Nic Robertson in Kuala Lumpur.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have heard from the acting transport minister on his Twitter account since the third and fourth pings have been announced. He has said that he is cautiously more optimistic. He also says that he prays that this will help everyone move forward.

And he's also praised Angus Houston who's leading the search mission off the coast of Australia. Praised him as a professional. But what we continue to hear from officials here is that the black boxes are a vital part of the investigation. That they won't announce any sort of partial findings that they've had so far. We have heard saying that -- despite saying that we have heard from the police chief here saying he's been able to rule out all 227 passengers being involved in the disappearance of Flight 370. But the investigators won't go further than that because they say that the information they have so far is essentially only partial.

That the black boxes will provide more information that's important. And we also understand from sources here that it's very likely that it's not just the black boxes if the plane is found and discovered for sure. That the medical team if you will that's been formed as part of a commission by the Malaysians here to investigate the missing aircraft. The medical component will be important. The pathology experts for what they may find aboard the aircraft.

ROMANS: Certainly difficult -- a difficult subject but just beginning we're trying to figure out what happened there.

There was one American adult on Flight 370, Philip Wood, an IBM employee. He was heading home to Beijing. His partner Sarah Bajc tells CNN's Jake Tapper on "THE LEAD", you know, she doesn't think we're hearing the truth about what happened to the jet. And she's holding out hope that Wood may somehow have survived.


SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: I am convinced he's still alive because I still feel him and because there's absolutely no evidence to tell me contrary to that. I mean, we really don't know anything except for circumstantial things that's different from the day it went missing. So that tells me that all of the supposed pieces of data have all been wrong so far. That means the plane can still be intact and the people can still be alive. So both my heart and my head are telling me that that is a very real possibility.


ROMANS: Many of the families of those on board have similar feelings saying they're not going to believe those pingers are connected to the plane until they see the wreckage for themselves.

Pauline Chiou is live in Beijing with that part of the story.

We've heard this. You've been reporting this to us for weeks now that they haven't seen a seat cushion. They've seen no piece of this plane. It just disappeared. They can't believe it just disappeared.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And many of these relatives, Christine, are in the same corner as Sarah Bajc, who you just heard from. They believe that something is amiss. That they're not getting all of the information. And because of this lack of information, you hear theories from these relatives.

I heard recently one man saying, why have you abandoned the land search? It's possible this plane could have crash landed somewhere in Malaysia. Can you go back and look there? So you hear the families asking these kinds of questions. And, Christine, the families every day, they hear from the media, they hear from the searchers. But today they heard from a new group of people. They heard from three American women who came over to Beijing on their own time because they wanted to talk directly to these relatives. These three women lost loved ones in plane accidents in the past.

So they met behind closed doors. They answered questions. They advised the Chinese families. And they pushed them to ask for more questions and to pressure the governments and the searchers for more information.

And one of the Chinese relatives told us, Steve Wang, what he thought was the most valuable piece of information from the Americans.


STEVE WANG, MOTHER WAS IN FLIGHT 370: One of the ladies told us that it took her 20 years to know what finally happens to the plane. And she told us that usually the truth will come. Just keep strong.

CHIOU: Is that difficult to hear for you?

WANG: Yes, of course, but we will wait. And we will do what we can do.


CHIOU: So they realize it's a long wait. And in fact one of the American women, she lost her parents on an airplane in North Carolina when she was just 5 years old. The plane had exploded over North Carolina. And she said it took more than 20 years for her to get some sort of answer as to what may have happened. So, again, they were stressing to the Chinese families here this could take years -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Pauline Chiou, live for us this morning in Beijing. Thanks, Pauline.

BERMAN: This morning as we speak, 15 planes, 14 ships out looking for the jet. Could the weather be a factor in that search? It's been a weather -- factor nearly every day.

Indra Petersons is here with a look at that.

Hey, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There was a time not too long ago we were talking about very turbulent weather in the region but one of the best things we have right now is the fact that the weather has been quite calm. I mean, take a look at the last 48 hours here. You can see the bulk of the weather staying north of the search area and farther down to the south. It has really helped these search parties get out there and get into the conditions that sometimes can be rough in this region. Looking again now forward in time, you can actually see any weather systems that are developing again staying south of the region. This is the good news. We are not talking about that low visibility. I mean, barely some clouds in the area, yes, some light showers here and there. But again they've had turbulent weather just several weeks ago, and now things are really calming down. And of course I keep mentioning, this new search area is farther to the north so conditions are improving.

Barely some rain and even barely wind out there so that's the good news. Conditions are great at least for the next 48 hours and that is key as they try and hear these pings and potentially the last final days.

ROMANS: Sure is. All right. Thanks, Indra.


BERMAN: We're following the latest breaking developments in the search for Flight 370 all morning long. But there's other big news as well. Perhaps the most crucial moment yet in the trial of Oscar Pistorius. Prosecutors cross-examining Pistorius at his murder trial. They are not holding back. This is some blistering stuff here. We're live with what he is saying next.


ROMANS: Happening right now at the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa. The sprinter facing blistering questioning from prosecutors about his shooting, killing his girlfriend. And they were not holding back. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's talk about in the past. Before you killed Reeva, people look up to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that -- you have a responsibility to now tell the truth. Let us get to the truth.

PISTORIUS: I think I have a responsibility for myself and Reeva to tell the truth.


PISTORIUS: I'm here to tell the truth. I'm here to tell the truth as much as I can remember on that night.


ROMANS: The testimony temporarily on hold as the judge considers whether to allow prosecutors to show a video.

CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps outside the courthouse in Pretoria for us.

Kelly, there haven't been many questions yet. Already it looks like prosecutors really trying to shake things up -- shake Pistorius up. What's the latest?

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, we always expected that the prosecutor was going to come after Pistorius in cross-examination incredibly aggressively. Much of their case rests around how effectively they managed to shake Pistorius during cross-examination. But another interesting feature that we've seen very early on in cross-examination is essentially the side battle that we expect to see going on between Barry Roux on the one hand and Gerrie Nel Noam on the other hand.

They are both essentially titans of their profession here. They've met each other on a number of occasions. Barry Roux will know exactly what to expect from Gerrie Nel in cross-examination and he will constantly be waiting to step up and try and mitigate some of that aggression that Gerrie Nel be trying to throw at Pistorius in order to try to unsettle and unnerve him.

ROMANS: Kelly Phelps for us in Pretoria as that testimony continues, that cross-examination continuing now. It's really dramatic.

BERMAN: I got to say, what a morning. You have the dramatic testimony in South Africa. You have the discovery of new pings in the search for Flight 370. So much going on. So let's get a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY."

Kate Bolduan joins us now.

Hey, Kate.

ROMANS: Hi, Kate.


BERMAN: Kate Bolduan.


BERMAN: What do you have going on "NEW DAY"?


ROMANS: She's so busy.

BOLDUAN: Still looking at our rundown. Fighting with our control room. You know, the usual. Sorry.

We're going to be following the breaking news as you guys have in the search for Flight 370. Overnight officials announced they detected two more pings under water. Could they be the plane's black box after all of this time. Now officials are saying the flight could be found in a matter of days. If this is Flight 370, how deep could the plane be and what would crews face trying to recover the wreckage? We're going to take a look.

And we're going to also break down the very latest with our top-notch aviation experts, of course. Once you find it, that's the big thing we need, right? But they also need to figure out how to get it to the surface once that happens.

BERMAN: So many questions. Looking forward to that. Sorry to surprise there, Kate.

ROMANS: Thanks, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Not your fault. It's mine.

BERMAN: Always good to see you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Kate.

BERMAN: All right, happening right now. There is more news developing this morning. Crisis in Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters taking over buildings, demanding independence. The question is, could this be a pretext for the Russians to move in? Important questions. We're live next.


ROMANS: The latest now on the breaking news for you overnight in the search for Flight 370. Officials in Australia say a ship has again heard signals, signals that could be from the jet's black boxes. Two sounds were heard in the Indian Ocean lasting just five and seven minutes. And the signals were weaker than they had been. That's a possible sign the batteries on those flight recorders are starting to run out.

Still, officials hopeful. They are hopeful this will finally point them toward the jet that's now been missing for 33 days.

Meantime, protesters in eastern Ukraine are not backing down. They have taken over government buildings in Donetsk and elsewhere saying they deserve a vote so they can break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

The Ukrainians in the U.S. they are blaming Moscow saying all of this is orchestrated by the Kremlin as a pretext for invasion. Moscow, for its part, is urging caution.

Senior international correspondent Nick Payton Walsh sorting it all out for us this morning in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Nick, what's the feeling on the ground there? Do people feel as though the Russians are orchestrating this for -- a precursor for its next move into Ukraine?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's very much the pro-Ukrainian sentiment here. And those protesting for Russia are small in number. They are isolated pockets but they have a much greater significance, obviously, because of those 40,000 Russian troops on the eastern Ukrainian border that Russia -- sorry, that NATO and Washington believe could be sat there waiting to intervene in some way if Moscow feels it wants to.

It seems, though, here as though tension grows and then suddenly dissipates. We just heard from the Ukrainian Interior minister saying quite clearly that if things aren't resolved in these three cities where buildings have been taken over by pro-Russian protesters in 48 hours, through negotiations, then force could be used.

Overnight, we saw what Ukrainian security officials called a tense hostage situation in Luhansk where they claim pro-Russian protesters have taken arms from a security service building there and taken it over. Had in fact also taken hostages and wired the building up with explosives. Now that seems to have dissipated overnight. If there were hostages, those people have now, in fact been released.

But here in Donetsk, where I'm standing, I've just been back to the local administration building held by protesters. They are peaceful. They don't seem to have any weaponry there at all apart from sticks and stones, but they now have built up quite impressive walls, barricades of tires and bricks. Organizing themselves. We've seen in there a list of the various different parts of this area of Donetsk who now have offices in that new administration.

Almost like a rival government trying to create itself. Still small in number but huge in significance because of how this is playing. The geopolitics of all of Eastern Europe -- Christine.

ROMANS: And yesterday, Nick, the International Monetary Fund slashed its growth forecast for Russia -- for the Russian economy because all of this is playing out very dramatically in the economies of the region as well. So small numbers, yes, but very, very big significance both for geopolitics and for the economies there.

Thank you so much, Nick Paton Walsh, for us this morning.

Breaking news overnight, Toyota recalling millions of vehicles this morning. More on that for you right after the break.


ROMANS: Breaking news this morning. Toyota announced one of the largest car recalls ever. More than six million cars affected for problems ranging from air bags not deploying, steering columns breaking, seats not locking into position. Twenty-seven different models are involved in the five separate issues. All revealed out this morning. Some two million of the cars involved are here in North America.

Global stocks higher this morning taking the cue from yesterday. U.S. stocks snapped a three-day losing streak. Futures indicate we could do that again today. But, you know, the nervous nellys have been out lately, fretting that the market is due for a correction. A correction of course is a drop of 10 percent or more from recent highs. They really haven't had one in a couple of years so that is still the backdrop of any kind of advance today.

Meantime, Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs feeling the fallout of best- selling author Michael Lewis' new book "Flash Boys." A report from the "Wall Street Journal" says Goldman may close its dark pool. What is the dark pool, you say? Dark pools are private stock trading venues where big investors can trade stocks hidden from public view.

Lewis criticized those dark pools, those exchanges in his book saying their secrecy is unfair to regular investors. About 14 percent of stocks trade this way. Goldman's pool is one of the biggest. A lot of scrutiny on that and high frequency trading. Watch this space. More to come.

"NEW DAY" starts now.