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Desperate Search for Ship Survivor; Search for Flight 370; Crisis in Ukraine; Families Angry at Airline Investigators

Aired April 17, 2014 - 05:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning, a desperate search for the missing after a ferry capsizes off the South Korean coast. Hundreds of passengers believed to be trapped on board. One day later, could they still be alive?

We're live with the very latest.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More breaking news this morning. New information in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Officials giving revealing statements about where this search is headed right now.

You'll want to hear this. We're live.

ROMANS: Bloody battles in the streets of Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters fight back, troops creating chaos, chaos throughout the eastern part of that country. This morning, the world pointing fingers at Russia. Could Vladimir Putin be trying to start a war?

We are live with what the Russian president is saying this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. It is 32 minutes after the hour right now. A lot going on all around the world. Let's start with the breaking news in South Korea.

Hopes starting to fade there this morning, where nearly 300 people, 300, many of them high school students, remain missing, this coming nearly two days after a ferry overturned in the cold, cold waters off that country's southern coast. Right now, at least nine people are reported dead. That number will almost certainly go up substantially. The weather terrible, slowing efforts to find survivors.

Our Pauline Chiou is live in Jindo in South Korea.

Pauline, give us a sense of the latest this morning.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, just look at the weather and you can see the challenges that the search-and- rescue crews are going through. There's been wind and rain and strong currents, so the families are very anxious, they're desperate for information about what has happened to their loved ones.

We have just learned that the ferry company's president has been hospitalized after collapsing from shock and stress today. And also, the ferry captain spoke out publicly, apologizing, saying "I am so sorry. I am at a loss for words." But that apology means very little to the parents of these high school students and the loved ones of the other passengers.

We spoke with one father whose son is a high school student. He was on this field trip heading towards this resort island of Jeju Island for a four-day holiday, and this father says much more needs to be done in the search-and-rescue effort.


CHANG MIN, FATHER OF FERRY ACCIDENT VICTIM (Through Translator): The civilian team went out there, but the tides made it too dangerous, so they came back. Then the government rescuer says it's too dangerous for them, too. Shouldn't I be angry at that? If the government cares for our people, please rescue our families and our children.


CHIOU: And the president of South Korea says she cares and she just met with the families, saying she promises to put more resources into this search-and-rescue operation.

Now the big question is how exactly did this happen? How could this ferry, in very good weather, suddenly sink? We do know that the survivors from the ferry and other passengers had said that they heard a loud thump, a big bump, and then that's when the ferry started lilting.

Well, Yonhap News Agency here in South Korea is reporting that the ferry captain had made a very sharp turn and that possibly the cargo on the bottom level could have shifted and caused this ferry to sink. We do know that there were more than 1,000 containers at the bottom level of the ferry, as well as more than 100 vehicles.

So, John, that could be one explanation that investigators are looking at.

BERMAN: Very interesting. It's the first time I've heard that possible explanation for what may have caused this ferry to simply overturn in those cold waters.

Our Pauline Chiou in South Korea for us this morning. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: This morning there's breaking news in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Forty-one days after it disappeared, Malaysia's transport minister is now saying they may have to change their tactics if the current search doesn't pan out. Change their tactics. Right now, authorities are preparing the Bluefin-21 unmanned sub for another mission, a third mission to the bottom of the ocean.

Miguel Marquez is live in Perth with the latest.

You know, two very short sessions with the Bluefin-21, now it's in the water for a third time. And then this word that maybe, maybe they'll have to change their tactics.

What are we making of what's happening with the search right now, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's hard to tell, but look, the Bluefin has gone down for its third -- it's come back from its third mission, and they are -- they are analyzing that data now. We may find out more about what it saw on that third full mission that it's undertaken. It will go back into the water for another 16-hour mission. That would be its fourth mission now.

And keep in mind, this device is looking into an area about 500 or 600 square miles out of the tens of thousands of square miles that they started searching. They have narrowed it down to that fairly small 600-square-mile area based on the pings that they picked up. They put it into the water where the strongest ping was heard, and they're hoping that they can come up with a hit and actually find the airliner.

What the transport minister out of Malaysia is saying and what the prime minister here in Australia are saying is that if they don't come up with something in about a week's time, according to Tony Abbott, the prime minister, that they may have to readjust their strategy. But the folks who are actually doing the searching says it's going to take a lot longer than that. It would take at least a month to map that whole 600-square-mile area, and it could take up to two months. That one month assumes that the Bluefin will be going nonstop, 24 hours a day, every single day.

It's unlikely to be able to do that because it is a sophisticated piece of technology, they're going to have to revise it and work with it as it maps that surface, as it maps that area, but we hope in the next hours that we will get some feedback on what it has discovered on that third dive, a full day's dive, and then it will go down again for yet another 16 hours -- Christine, John.

ROMANS: Miguel Marquez. Thank you, Miguel.

BERMAN: We're going to move now to another major story developing this morning, the crisis in Ukraine. And breaking news from Russia, where President Vladimir Putin is now admitting there were Russian soldiers on the ground in Crimea before and after that region voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia, but he insists he has nothing to do with the latest conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine.

President Obama, though, says that's a lie, that Russia is supporting the militias there, battling Ukrainian forces, and that Russia will pay a price.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you've already seen is the Russian economy weaker, capital fleeing out of Russia. You know, Mr. Putin's decisions are not just bad for Ukraine. Over the long term, they're going to be bad for Russia.


BERMAN: Phil Black live in eastern Ukraine for us this morning.

Phil, give us a sense of what you're seeing on the ground, because we're seeing confusing reports about Ukrainian troops, pro-Russian militias battling each other, in some cases, the pro-Russian militias just taking over armored vehicles.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. It is as chaotic as you describe there, John. Firstly, overnight, what sounds like a fairly violent confrontation in the south near the city of Mariupol, that is where the Ukrainian government says 300 pro-Russians attacked a Ukrainian military unit there. They were apparently repelled, three of those attackers were killed, 13 injured, dozens more arrested, but it is an indication of the broader chaos across this region where Ukrainian military is supposedly here to try and restore order, restore the authority of the government in Kiev, but desperately failing to do so.

This is the third day of this operation, and what we've seen for the last few days, a Ukrainian military unit being stopped, not by pro- Russian government, but by locals, villagers who don't want them here, swarming their armored convoys, demanding that they stop their advance and putting these Ukrainian soldiers in what could only be described as the humiliating position of having to negotiate their own retreat.

In those cases, giving up their own weapons, sometimes giving up those armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles as well. We saw six of those vehicles being paraded like trophies in a town just down the road last night by pro-Russian militants. What it all points to is the continuing weakening authority of the central government in Kiev here across the east.

It is not able to get the military to act as it wants because these soldiers clearly don't want to use force against their own people, and that's bad news for the Ukrainian government as it goes into these four-party talks in Geneva today, puts it in a very weak position as it tries to thrash out a solution to this crisis with the United States, with Europe, and of course, with Russia as well.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: Puts them in a very weak position potentially heading into those negotiations.

Our Phil Black in Ukraine describing the chaos, and frankly, the confusion there. Our thanks to Phil.

ROMANS: All right, coming up, a big win in court for the suspected Boston marathon bomber, a big win for him as we learn new information about the man arrested with a rice cooker in his backpack one year after the Boston attack, next.


BERMAN: A psychiatric evaluation now planned for a Boston arts student police say was responsible for a bomb scare near the finish line of the Boston marathon.

Kevin Edson, also known as Kayvon Edson, was arrested on the anniversary of the marathon attacks. He was dressed in black, screaming and carrying a rice cooker in his backpack. His family says Edson suffers from bipolar disorder, and prosecutors say he told police this was all a performance. Edson is being held on $100,000 bond.

ROMANS: Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has won the right to see autopsy photos from those attacks, as he awaits trial on charges he was responsible for the deaths of three people at the marathon and an MIT police officer during the manhunt afterward. A federal judge ruling that Tsarnaev could see the photos as his defense team prepares for his day in court. The judge is also considering allowing Tsarnaev to meet with his sister outside of the earshot of investigators.

BERMAN: This morning the death toll rising again in that catastrophic landslide in Washington state. Thirty-nine bodies have now been recovered with six people still reported missing, this nearly a month after that ground gave way, pushing a square mile of mud down on homes. Scientists say unusually high rainfall and a weak hillside contributed to the slide.

ROMANS: Take a look at this scary accident near Los Angeles. More than a dozen people, including several firefighters, hurt in this one, as two fire trucks collide at an intersection, sending one barreling into that restaurant. One person reportedly in critical condition this morning. Fire officials say both trucks were racing to a house fire.

BERMAN: All right, it is practically Easter. That is what the calendar says, but it does not feel like it. That's why we have Indra Petersons to tell us what's going to happen.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, here's the thing, big change in the forecast, right? But for a while, we were thinking rain for Easter Sunday out towards the northeast? Not anymore. So we'll start there with the plus.

Let's talk about what we felt and why everyone's complaining so much. We had record-breaking lows and even snow yesterday. I mean, take a look at these record temperatures in the morning. When you're talking about records, yes, out towards Michigan, OK, but 5 below for yesterday? Yes, I'd say it's a little late in the season. Then, even each in Pensacola, Florida, they had record morning lows. So that's the chill. The chill's still here.

In fact, we're looking at freeze warnings again this morning out towards D.C., and back through charlotte, even out towards Nashville, seeing frost advisories this morning.

Here's the good news, we're going to start recovering. Temperatures are going to rebound. The system kind of dying out. That brought some heavy snow into the upper Midwest yesterday. But now look in the southeast. We're talking about a second system here, kind of that tail end of it, really picking up moisture out of the gulf. This is going to be producing some heavy rain, I mean, really heavy rain, flooding concerns, about four inches out towards Tallahassee, 2 1/2 inches out towards Atlanta, but here's the good news.

It's not going to be as strong and it's not going to be cold, so temperatures rebounding quickly. About 10 below right now, but by the weekend, right around average. And more importantly, dry along the entire eastern seaboard. Pacific Northwest, not so lucky, some light showers on Easter.

BERMAN: So too bad, Seattle.

PETERSONS: Yes, too bad for them. I see you, like, processing, processing.


ROMANS: I love your little basket of eggs up there on your graphic. Lovely.

PETERSONS: I had to thank Sherry, my producer, for that. I'm like, what eggs?


ROMANS: It's awesome. All right, thanks, Indra.

Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us now.

Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: JB, don't fret about the weather. Easter's theme is rebirth and renewal. It will get better. There's a new chance going forward. And it's good to have you back, my friend.

BERMAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Unfortunately, I cannot greet you with good news. We're going to continue to monitor the really frantic search, and hopefully what is going to stay a search and a rescue, as opposed to a recovery effort, for what we've been calling a ferry, but remember, this is a 500-foot, five-story-high ship that had hundreds and hundreds of kids on it. These teenagers were supposed to be going on vacation.

So there's this really big scale and scope operation going on. The ship is still, a part of it is out of the water. That's giving a little bit of hope to rescuers that they can get in there and find air pockets. We'll take you through it.

Plus, all the new safety questions about how this happened and what was and was not done trying to save people on that ship. We'll take you through it this morning.

As well as the looking at the latest on 370. Why is the Australian prime minister saying that they may have to enter a new phase soon? We thought we were getting good news, that they mapped like 30-plus miles of the bottom of the Indian Ocean, that the Bluefin is finally working, but why would we be going to a new phase? What does that mean?

We're going to talk with the partner of an American passenger on the plane about the investigation and what may happen next.

That's what I have for you this morning. Plus, all the other news, of course, all the news.

BERMAN: All of it.

CUOMO: All of it.

BERMAN: Every last bit. All right, Chris Cuomo. Thank you so much. Appreciate it, my friend.

We're going to have much more on the frustration of the families of those on board Flight 370 are feeling and voicing. In some cases, you can hear the anger in their voices and by their actions. We will go live to Beijing with this report, next.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Nine minutes to the top of the hour.

It's been 41 days now since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing, and the families of those on board say they've had enough. Anger boiled over at a briefing in Beijing. Many there called Malaysian officials liars, and the families are now demanding authorities answer 26 questions about what happened to the jet, questions including just how do they know it definitely went down in the Indian Ocean.

Want to go to Beijing now and senior international correspondent Ivan Watson.

Ivan, tell us what these families want to know what they're demanding, what they're saying this morning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Christine, a lot of this makes sense. When your loved ones are missing for more than 40 days, it makes sense to be obsessed about every possible detail of what could have happened to this missing plane, but there is clearly, on behalf of the 153 Chinese nationals who were aboard this Malaysian Airlines Flight, a lot of mistrust and suspicion about the lack of information they claim that is coming from the Malaysian authorities.

Now amid a storm of criticism from the families' committee of these Chinese families, the Malaysian government has announced that it will send a high-level technical delegation to once again meet with these families here in Beijing next week, while also a Malaysian government official has been a little bit on the defensive, saying wait, this isn't fair, there were nationalities from 14 different countries. We're trying to help all of them. How come the Chinese, basically, are complaining so much? Some of the things that the Chinese families are asking for are very technical. They want to know, for example, who manufactured, which company manufactured the black box on board the missing plane. They want to know logs of maintenance for the emergency transponders aboard that plane, really detailed stuff, some of which Malaysian investigators may not want to share with the general public, but clearly, there needs to be some kind of an outreach to satisfy people who are desperate for information, so much so that they've been hurling abuse at the midlevel Malaysian officials that have been meeting day after day with the Chinese families in the hotel behind me.

And today, the Malaysian embassy didn't even bother to send a representative to meet with the hundreds of family members, instead having a Malaysian Airlines official read from a printed statement. And you can just imagine the scorn that was heaped in that room against the Malaysian officials when no Malaysian diplomat bothered to show up -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, just a day after a teleconference where they couldn't -- didn't have any sound. It was a technical problem and the families were like, you've got to be kidding me. We just want more information, you can't even talk to us. So you can see their frustration really, really building.

Ivan Watson -- thanks, Ivan.

We're going to be right back.


ROMANS: Welcome back. We're expecting a tough day for tech stocks after three days of gains for stocks. So you've got European global markets mixed, but the Dow pointing to a lower open here this morning. Watch Google and IBM, both of those down in the premarket.

How would you like to make $58 million for 15 months of work? That's what Yahoo! is paying its former chief operating officer, paying Henrik De Castro $58 million in severance after he was fired in January. It's one of the biggest payouts in history. He was Marissa Mayer's first hire when she took over the company. Get this, the severance package was more than double Mayer's salary. She made about $25 million last year.

A lot of it has to do -- well, a lot of it has to do with contracted pay and also just how well that stock has done over the past year, but a $58 million payday. Wow.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they are in the water, I think we have a considerable problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Desperate search. Divers trying to get back into the submerged ship hoping to find any of the hundreds, many teenagers, trapped below. The frantic text messages kids sent as the ship went down and why was only one lifeboat deployed.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the Bluefin completes its first full mission in the search for Flight 370. The latest on what it saw. Plus, new questions this morning. Was the plane on autopilot heading to Australia?