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Ferry Sinks, Crews Race to Find Survivors; Bluefin-21 Complete First Full Mission

Aired April 17, 2014 - 08:00   ET


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're not that deep. Imagine if you were at tremendous depth, huge challenges to show you -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The darkness, the temperatures, the pressure, all of those factors would come into play at those depths. We can see that the water is clearing up a little bit behind you. We're going to come back to you guys throughout the show so you can show us. But I've got to say, Martin is a stronger man than I am a woman staying calm under those conditions.

Martin, thank you very much. Phil Newton (ph) -- yes, everybody back there, thank you so much. We'll get back to you throughout the show. Truly amazing getting that perspective of what you have to deal with.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He's going to be down there all day?

BOLDUAN: Let's not remind him. I think it's probably advisable.

CUOMO: I don't think he needs to be reminded. That is going above and beyond, I guess below and beyond.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: For the rest, like the week here.

BOLDUAN: Well, when you see it, it offers such a unique perspective. We talked about with animation, if you will, kind of cartoon images of what it would look like being down there trying to search and trying to recover some of any debris that they would find. But seeing it and seeing the difficulty they're working under, it really opens your eyes.

CUOMO: Holy cow.

Martin Savidge, even more respect -- you know, like we didn't respect him enough already. Amazing. We'll be bringing you that as there are good things to see down there.

Right now, we're going to take a break. And, once again, families are waiting for word of missing loved ones. This time, it is the ship that's being searched for teenagers. We're going to go there with them.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY, everyone. It is Thursday, April 17th, 8:00 in the East.

And rescuers that are battling some very harsh conditions right now as they race to find nearly 300 people still missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea's coast. The images are truly startling. Most of the passengers, high school students, headed for vacation. At least nine people are now confirmed dead. But officials do expect that number to rise, especially as the hours tick by.

Paula Hancocks is live in Jindo, South Korea, with the very latest -- Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, certainly the weather hasn't been cooperating today. It's nightfall once again. These families are spending a second night desperately looking across the horizon for any word of survivors. They can't see the ship from there. It's 12 miles out. But this is the only place they can go. They are waiting for anything to be told to them.

Now, we have got some new information from the maritime police. They tell us they have been trying to get divers all day inside the cabins. At least six times they've been trying to get divers inside. Every single time they have failed because there's such poor visibility. There's strong currents under water. And at least three divers were swept away and picked up somewhere else.

But just to show how difficult and dangerous the search and rescue operation is. It's not enough for the families, though. They want to see more being done. We have the president of South Korea touring the area earlier, insisting everything that could be done would be done.

We know there's 171 vessels, 29 helicopters, more than 500 divers. And part of the investigation as well is to find out why only one out of 46 life boats was deployed. And, certainly, the fact that the P.A. announcement was telling people to stay put as the ship was sinking. That is something that will be looked at very closely. There are fears that could have cost lives.

Back to you.

CUOMO: All right. Paula, thank you very much.

One lifeboat deployed, but the captain and crew made it off the ship, raising lots of questions and we'll answer them when we get the information for you.

We want to shift now to the search for Flight 370. Preliminary tests of the oil slick in the search area show it is not from an aircraft.

Meantime, data from the first complete Bluefin mission is being analyzed to see if it holds any clues. And now, Australia's prime minister says he expects the best leads in the search to fade in the next week or so.

Let's go to Miguel Marquez live in Perth, Australia, with the latest -- Miguel.


The information that oil is not from MH370 will come as a hard blow to families hoping for some physical evidence the plane is down there. That is not what they are finding.

But keep in mind the search on the surface is still going on. American P8 Poseidon aircraft is still going up every single day. The P3 is going out. Ships are out there responding to what those planes are seeing, trying to pick up any sign of debris in that area.

That said, the Bluefin-21 has been down now for its third and full day of searching the ocean floor and is going back down again for another day. They seem to be working out the kinks of that airplane, of that submersible.

Both the transportation minister for the Malaysians and the PM here, the prime minister of Australia, saying that within the next week or so they will exhaust that one area, that very specific area they are looking at based on the pings. If they don't find anything there, they will have to go back to the drawing board, back to the map basically and figure out the next place that they start searching.

Kate, Chris, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Miguel, thank you very much.

And let's pick right where Miguel left off and bring in David Soucie, a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash", also a former FAA inspector.

David, good morning.

Right what Miguel was talking about, the Australian prime minister in this interview with "The Wall Street Journal" said a couple interesting things, that in a week, they'll probably have covered this search area. If they don't find anything, then they're going to stop, regroup, reconsider.

What can you take or read to that reconsider?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, in investigations, you follow every lead to its end. What he's saying in my opinion is that he's reached the end. That will be the end of these searches. If they don't reach something within a week, they will have said, we heard the pings, we looked where the pings were and didn't find anything.

So, now, when he says regroup, that's the question. How far do you regroup? Do you go all the way back to the Inmarsat data and you say, maybe we did this wrong? You go back to the Malaysian pings, they got along the coast and say, perhaps that wasn't 370, because it has nothing that says, I'm 370. It just says there's something going across there.

So, at what point do you say, how far do you regroup to? What I would do at this point, what I would recommend is go back to what we call white sheet planning. White sheet planning says we've considered every assumption we've made. Not just go backwards, because if you make an assumption early on in your strategy.

BOLDUAN: It could set you on the wrong path.

SOUCIE: It could set you on the wrong path. If you simply say, this didn't work, so let's work, so let's work backward in the map and say, let's just go to that Inmarsat data and accept the rest of it, you still might be on the wrong path.

So, my suggestion would be is to go all the way back and, I'm not second-guessing them obviously. I'm not there. I don't have all the information they do.

But a white sheet planning at this point would probably be a good thing at least to re-evaluate everything.

BOLDUAN: And David Gallo earlier in the show said that kind of weak timeline that he was given, he thinks that's a little short. That you really should allow this to play out and we shouldn't pre-judge that there might be something picked up today, tomorrow or in the next couple days because the Bluefin just finally got down there to finish its first full mission.

SOUCIE: True. But this goes along with what we were saying a couple days ago. Why don't they have more than one down there? Clearly, they believe with this strategy that it has to be within this small area, within maybe 400 or 500 square miles.

So, they believe within a week they will have exhausted where they found the ping, especially the first two-hour ping. They will have said, if it was around the two-hour ping area, we will have searched that out in a week.

So, could they keep searching? I suppose. They're really confident in my mind that this is where it is and they can exhaust just that one probability in their head.

BOLDUAN: What realistically then -- you kind of listed the other possibilities. What is the next phase? We haven't been talking about it. We've been talking about once they put the Bluefin in, it's likely they're going to find something.

SOUCIE: Right. That's not over yet.


SOUCIE: It really isn't. He's just saying we should have an answer in the week. That answer could be terribly disappointing or it could be very good. There's not a lot of gray area when examining specific leads like that. You either -- you set up a strategy, set key performance indicators.

What is it that proves success or failure in a mission? That's what they've done. They'll say we'll know these key performance indicators within a week. If they don't reach them, then the other side is we don't have what we're looking for. BOLDUAN: David, I also found very interesting that the list of questions that the families of the Chinese passengers on the flight, that they have put together and they presented. I was -- they're very technical. They're beyond my understanding of what they're trying to get at, asking about very detailed questions about the emergency locater transmitter, about the black box, asking what the serial number is.

What are they trying to get to? What do you think?

SOUCIE: I'm very impressed with those questions. I think what we're getting to or what I can drive out of that, is that these are not the meanderings of grief-torn people. These are people who want an answer. They're intelligent people -- they are people who have -- there were 30 or 40 engineers on board this aircraft.

So, their families, their people that they hang out with and socialize with, their families are wanting answers, and they're not going to settle for -- well, we've got this answer and here is the result. They want to know how they got that result. It's very, very good questions, every one of them.

BOLDUAN: Yes, one thing, an additional thing that came out today that I found interesting in "The Wall Street Journal", also saying there's some suggestion that the analysis of the data indicated that the plane was actually traveling towards Western Australia, towards Perth, and that it may have been on auto pilot at the time.

SOUCIE: Well, towards Perth, we've kind of suspected all along just because of its trajectory and where it might be going.

BOLDUAN: How do they get that it could have been on auto pilot, is the one thing --

SOUCIE: Well, that's the thing I'm a little confused about as well, because if it were on auto pilot and the engines ran out of fuel and they're at 35,000 feet, the nose of the aircraft would lift to about 45 degrees before it would actually release that auto pilot heading. At that point, the aircraft could be in a steep stall. So, without controlling and making dramatic changes to the aircraft, it would impact the water with a great deal of impact and force and destroy the aircraft. There would be debris everywhere.

BOLDUAN: So, you would think if that was a case, there would be a better chance that we might see debris on the surface, which we haven't yet?

SOUCIE: But there's other reasons we don't see debris on the surface, too, because of all the wind conditions and everything is going on there.

So, you can't really rule that out. But I would think probably the auto pilot was not on simply because of that. If the aircraft went in in a slow and gradual attempt to ditch, it would be more -- this would be more indicative of that because we don't have debris, the ELTs didn't go off. A lot of other evidence showing it probably didn't have the auto pilot on.

BOLDUAN: And ELTs -- I'm learning all this on the fly as well -- is that emergency locater transmitter that would go off --

SOUCIE: It's a deceleration transmitter. If it decelerates at a certain rate, meaning an impact or abrupt stop, it would go off and within minutes -- satellites are listening for that signal. Within minutes. we would have a triangulation of where it went into the water.

BOLDUAN: Which we clearly we do not here at this point.

David, thank you so much.

SOUCIE: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Let's go over to John Berman, once again, in for Michaela, for some of today's top stories -- John.

BERMAN: Thank you so much, Kate.

More rough talk from Russian President Vladimir Putin, after a violent in Ukraine. The Russian president calls the new Ukrainian government illegitimate. Putin says he hopes he will not have to use force, but he says he has the right to. President Obama says there will be consequences if Russia doesn't back off. Secretary of state John Kerry and top European officials are meeting with leaders from Ukraine and Russia, as world comes the U.S. is expected to announce more help for Ukraine.

And earlier this morning, during a televised question and answer session NSA leaker Edward Snowden asked Russian President Putin about surveillance in Russia and if that country spies on its people and saves the data. President Putin responded that Russian intelligence is not carrying out mass collection of citizens data and said they need court approval to get certain kind of information. But this was a surreal moment that will be discussed, no doubt, throughout the day.

New e-mails showing the Justice Department and IRS in talks about possible criminal investigations of suspected fraud by tax-exempt organizations days before the scandal targeting of conservative groups went public. The talks apparently went nowhere. The documents were obtained by activist group Judicial Watch.

The town of West, Texas, will pose tonight in a memorial to remember the 15 people that died in a fertilizer plant explosion one year ago. Some stunning new video of the blast is a reminder of just how powerful it was. Hundreds of homes were damaged and destroyed. The explosion actually registered as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, it was felt 50 miles away. Exactly what sparked that plant fire and the ultimate explosion is still unknown.

BOLDUAN: Look at that video.

CUOMO: We were covering it as it happened in Boston. J.B. and I were together up there. And it literally dominated that town. Square blocks around it had to be evacuated. There were noxious fumes. They didn't know what was going on.

BERMAN: Devastation.

BOLDUAN: In fact, they still don't have the answers that they need.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, scanning the sea floor for signs, any sign of MH370 is a daunting task. What exactly are searchers looking for? What will be the breakthrough, how do they analyze what they see?

We're asking co-leader of the search for Air France 447 for his perspective.

CUOMO: And crews are racing to find hundreds of missing people after this ship capsized off South Korea's coast. We have the latest on the rescue operation.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This morning, officials are analyzing the data from the underwater vehicle that had been scanning the Indian Ocean floor, looking for Flight 370. Airline accident investigations are a monumental operation and deep sea forensics is really the key to solving the mystery. Investigators must find the debris, map the ocean floor, send cameras, retrieve wreckage and hopefully, the black box included.

Let's bring in David Gallo, the co-leader for the search for Air France Flight 447 and director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

I want to -- I think it's so important to show what we have from past investigations.


BOLDUAN: Tell us what we're trying to find out here -- in your experience with Air France 447 and that search of two years, what was the breakthrough that you knew we've got something.

GALLO: Well, it's the ability to show that we could work in very rough terrain, with very new vehicles and technology. That was -- and we did that in the end of -- we had two phases, one where we spent two months in the wrong part of a haystack and the second one when we focused on the area.

BOLDUAN: So, when you recalibrated, when you refocused on that key area, this was the big kind of key image that came across.

GALLO: Well, this is at the very end of the first two months at sea, where there were a lot of frustration, but the team at sea was so talented that they saw this one blip, this is sonar record. They felt strongly enough about this, that they took a photo -- sent a vehicle back ground, took a photo, turned out to be a 50-gallon drum.

BOLDUAN: It really blows my mind because the Bluefin is working with sonar right now. And this is -- this grainy kind of image, they could pick this little dot out to think it's something unusual.

GALLO: Amazing, after months and month -- two months of survey to say let's have a look at that and there it is.

BOLDUAN: And then they got the oil drum.

GALLO: Not part of the aircraft but saying we can see something human-made against the natural background which was key.

BOLDUAN: Got it, then another big reveal, when you finally found this debris field. It really looks like the debris field.

GALLO: This is the debris field of Air France 447. Sad, 228 lives lost here. The vehicle scanning the bottom, but again, you can see something very different on the sea floor besides the natural background.

BOLDUAN: And is this -- would you call this typical in how a debris field would look?

GALLO: It does look like a typical debris field. When it's scatter out like this, not one whole aircraft sitting on the bottom.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right, and this is that bar that we've been talking about. Remind our viewers what this means?

GALLO: Yes, exactly, this is the bottom, right beneath the vehicle, it's called side-looking because it's looking to either side of the vehicle.

BOLDUAN: So, this is what you would hope at some point we would come across for Flight 370.

GALLO: I think if we see something like this, they'll take a close look at it with the Bluefin vehicle.

BOLDUAN: This is another map of the debris field once it went back, you were working with the REMUS 6000, went back to take images of various points of the debris. I mean, fuselage with door, flaps, back section. I mean, it's amazing how detailed.

GALLO: The whole idea, Kate, is to give investigators -- not for us. We're the under water exploration people and science. What we want to give the investigators what they need to try to help unravel the situation and also most importantly to find the black boxes in that debris field?

BOLDUAN: So, and before you find that black box on just this image, it's really extraordinary. Before you take the picture, you have to bring the data back from the surface with the sonar to realize you need to go back down and take a picture.

GALLO: Sure.

BOLDUAN: So, this is a couple --s at least two, three, four tries to get all these pictures, right? GALLO: Well, yes, that's right. This is the culmination of putting a lot of pictures together. Exactly right, a number of missions going down, mapping, coming back to the surface.

BOLDUAN: And talk about a lot of pictures. This is -- explain what this is. This is a huge mosaic of pictures. It really blows my mind.

GALLO: It's 85,000 images that we took of that area. You can see the vehicles, where the vehicles were. Imagine that if you were trying to do that with a digital camera, moving along, take picture, picture, picture, 85,000 of those images.

Again, the goal being to give the investigator the information they need to try to solve this.

BOLDUAN: I would assume also, David, it's not just finding various pictures of any debris and knowing, oh, we found debris. It's also, you've been showing investigators, how the debris looks, how it's laying on the ocean floor.

GALLO: That's exactly right, because we're getting good enough to not just take a photo, but come in and do a forensic study. This is a piece of the landing gear, a piece of the wing.


BOLDUAN: Then the final breakthrough.

GALLO: This is the important thing to find. This is the cockpit voice recorder. So important because it's the one witness that night to that tragedy.

BOLDUAN: And it really did change kind of the image of what we knew happened in 447, right?

GALLO: Yes. This combined with the flight data recorder gives all the information you need -- it was there that night and recorded what that plane was doing and what was going on inside the cockpit.

BOLDUAN: Which is the primary goal this time around. We need that first break through, find the oil drum, if you will.

GALLO: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: David Gallo, thank you so much. Thanks for sharing the picture.

GALLO: Thank you, Kate.


CUOMO: It will be great when we get to that point, Kate. That's for sure.

Next up on NEW DAY, the mystery behind the sinking ship. Families awaiting word on their teens, hundreds still missing. We're going to bring you the latest on what happened and who has been saved this morning.

Also, searching on the top of the ocean is difficult. Imagine on the bottom. That's what's going on with the search for Flight 370. We're going to show you the inside of a submarine. That is Martin Savidge on the ocean floor.