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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Arrest Warrants Issued for Ferry Captain, Crew Members; Fabian Cousteau Talks Underwater Challenges; Anti-Semitic Leaflets Distributed in Ukraine; Stories of Bravery, Luck, Determination of South Korea Ferry Survivors.

Aired April 18, 2014 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: In the frigid waters, the yellow sea divers are racing to find any sign of life on the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The hull has slipped beneath the surface. 270 passengers, most of them high school students, are still missing.

PEREIRA: CNN obtained a transcript of the first panicked moments after the vessel began to tip. It's raising questions whether the response could have been faster.

BERMAN: In the meantime, arrest warrants have been issued for the ferry's captain and two other crew members. This coming after a prosecutor revealed it was a third mate that was at the helm when the ship started to sink. The captain was not in the steering room. Not clear whether that raises any legal issues, but that revelation has relatives of the passengers reeling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): If the captain acted properly, many kids could have been alive. It hurts, really hurts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): The captain should have left the ferry at the very end but he didn't. I think he forgot in a moment of shock. Rationally, it is hard to think the captain would have left the ship so early.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: I think that a lot of us have had the common assumption that the captain goes down with his ship. In many places, the law requires had him to stay on until all of the passengers are safe.

BERMAN: But what about the captain of the sunken South Korean ferry? He escaped the wreckage, now there's a warrant out for his arrest along with two members of his crew. So let's talk about this.

Joining us now is maritime lawyer, Craig Allen.

Craig, lay this out. The law varies country to country. What exactly is the captain's responsibility?

CRAIG ALLEN, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, we look at the captain's responsibility on two levels. Under international law, primarily the safety of life at sea convention, convention on standards of training certification, and then, of course, in this case, we look to South Korean law. There is not much that's very specific on the international law level. The captain has ultimate authority and responsibility over the ship. So primarily, we would look to South Korean law. I have to say, I'm not aware of, and none of my South Korean friends or colleagues have suggested, that there is a specific statute about remaining on the ship. Certainly, not going down with the ship. So I am guessing we're probably looking primarily at some kind of a negligence charge, in this case, negligence that resulted in the death of individuals.

PEREIRA: It's interesting to talk about the legality of it, and obviously more information will come to light over the next hours and days. But I think most of us, just as we were talking about it, think that the captain has a moral responsibility to stay with the ship. Does that have any weight at all?

ALLEN: It does for professional mariners like me and certainly people I serve with in the Coast Guard. There is an immense moral responsibility to your passengers, particularly when those passengers are children or other people that are not in a good position to care for themselves in a situation like this. The law doesn't enforce, for the most part, moral responsibilities. We look to legal responsibilities. I'm confident, even under South Korean law, there have been suggested multiple bases of negligence in this case. As in the United States, negligence that leads to the death of an individual is certainly something you could be called to answer for under the criminal law.

BERMAN: So we now understand, we're told by prosecutors, that the captain was not at the helm when the incident happened on the ship. It was the third mate. That in and of itself, seems to be perfectly legal. Does this raise any possible legal issues going forward?

ALLEN: Most certainly it does. In this case, I'd look at the captain's responsibility going all the way back to the time before the ship left port. The captain, knowing the ship's going to leave port late, under conditions of restricted visibility in this case, himself not at least immediately familiar with this route because he's been called back in to service. So the captain's responsibility for the navigation planning, the navigation execution, he has overall responsibility and authority, essentially from port to port with respect to those passengers. In this particular case, because this is a passenger vessel, he has a particular responsibility with regard to readiness for evacuation of those passengers. We learned after the terrible "Costa Concordia" incident that this is something that the master needs to take personal control over, ensure those passengers know before you leave port what to do in case of an emergency, where to go.

PEREIRA: Yes. ALLEN: And there's no suggestion that that was done before the ship departed in Chong. So, there's a good reason to believe they were just not ready to respond.

PEREIRA: Craig Allen, thank you for walking us through some of these issues. We know an arrest warrant has been issued for the captain and two of the crew members. We'll wait to see what chose charges entail.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Ahead in this hour, we're talking about two huge underwater missions now, one, the rescue dive under a sunken ferry, trying to find those 270 missing people. The other, the search for a plane. A man with the ocean in his very DNA, Fabian Cousteau talks about some of those challenges, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back. @ THIS HOUR, divers risking their lives to try to save children who could be trapped on a sunken ferry. And an unmanned sub is on its fifth trip to a part of the ocean that's new to man, looking for flight 370. Two very different undersea missions, both though really requiring herculean efforts.

PEREIRA: One person who knows the sea and challenges oh, so well is here with us this hour. Fabian Cousteau is an ocean explorer who has the deep in his genes. His grandfather, none other than the pioneer explorer, Jacques Cousteau.

What a delight to have you here. You know some things about the deep ocean.

(LAUGHTER)

It's really proving to be quite a mystery to us. We see an example of that in the plane. Let's start with the ferry. We see this ongoing search effort. It's not a recovery, they're treating it like a search and rescue still. Give us an idea of some of the challenges those divers are facing with an upturned ferry.

FABIAN COUSTEAU, OCEAN EXPLORER: It's a really difficult situation. The positive news is that there's a good chance of still recovering some survivors. But for a diver, you have to remember that when you penetrate that structure from down below, it's pitch dark in there. You're maneuvering around a maze. If you're going to try and extract people from the hull itself, from the surface, you potentially endanger those people that you're trying to rescue, because the water goes into that compartment that presumably has air and unfortunately you might have a situation on your hands.

BERMAN: You're saying there's a good chance survivors thinking they were perhaps able to find a void underneath there. But what about the water temperatures, the currents? I don't know. How well do you know the seas in that area? You've been everywhere at this point. What challenges do they face? COUSTEAU: Not everywhere. But that particular area is treacherous. You have bad visibility. The water temperature is very cool. And you have currents which, of course, make for even more problematic situations. Now you're trying to talk about putting divers, specialized divers coming in from down below, which in and of itself is tricky and maneuvering through a maze that hopefully they have the plans for.

PEREIRA: We want to turn to flight 370 and this ongoing mystery. We've become rudimentary oceanographers, if you will, learning about the currents, about the depth of this ocean, this area that is new to man. How very difficult is the challenge of searching an area that's three miles deep.

COUSTEAU: We've explored less than 5 percent of our oceans to date --

PEREIRA: That's shocking really.

COUSTEAU: -- in any capacity, really. You're talking three miles deep, the equivalent of an elephant every square inch of pressure at that depth. It's extraordinarily difficult. There are very few tools to go down there in the first place. The few tools that are capable of doing that, a lot of times, are relegated to other projects. It's extraordinarily difficult. You're talking about an uncharted territory. It's like looking to see what's going on in the attic through the front door key hole.

BERMAN: This is a wakeup call about just how little we know about these vast depths. You are on this mission, Mission 31. You are actually trying to help solve this problem for the future.

COUSTEAU: The main point of Mission 31 and why we'll be taking a team down to live and work under water for 31 days in the only undersea Marine laboratory in the world, and outside of that is that human- ocean connection. The beauty of that platform we can broadcast live, day in and day out, through the advent of tools, such as this yellow Nokia device. And be able to can connect people with the developments of the ocean as we see with these unfortunate tragedies. We need to connect people with the oceans. And hopefully, the science that will be generated from this through our partners at Northeastern University and FIU will be able to entrance people into caring about this aquatic planet.

PEREIRA: I think it will. If anything, this mystery with flight 370 will certainly have planted some seeds. I think about the fact that people live on the international space station. This will be the first time.

(CROSSTALK)

COUSTEAU: This is the inner space station.

PEREIRA: The inner space station.

COUSTEAU: We'll be speaking with astronauts from outer space.

PEREIRA: Will you take visitors. Can we tweet you?

COUSTEAU: If you're a diver, and you and CNN can sign off --

(LAUGHTER)

COUSTEAU: -- we'd love to have you down there.

BERMAN: Next year, you can get @ THIS HOUR on the TV down there.

PEREIRA: There you go. Is basic cable available?

Fabian Cousteau, what a delight. But thanks for sharing your expertise.

COUSTEAU: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, chilling anti-Semitic leaflets distributed in east Ukraine. But pro-Russian separatists say they didn't do it. So who did and why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: "Grotesque, unacceptable and a provocation," that's what U.S. officials and Jewish leaders are calling anti-Semitic flyers handed out in east Ukraine. They were distributed outside a synagogue by masked men and were said to be from a man who calls himself the head of the People's Republic of Donetsk. But he says he had nothing to do with it.

PEREIRA: Here's what the flyer said. "All citizens of Jewish nationality over the age of 16 living on territories of Donetsk People's Republic have to register with DPR commissioner of nationality before May 3rd, 2014 at the Donetsk Regional Administration. Registration free, $50. People must have in person $50 cash, passport, all available I.D.s, and documentation of ownership of real estate and transportation."

BERMAN: Our Phil Black joins us now in Donetsk.

Phil, what's the reaction from the Jewish community there, you know, given the awful history in some cases in that region, do they believe the flyer, who to they think it's from?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, their initial reaction they say when they first read it was really shock, and to considerable degree, fear as well. The chief rabbi at the synagogue tells us the emotional reaction has evolved since then. It is really now something more like anger because they believe whoever was responsible for this -- as you say, the pro-Russian people attributed on the notice, they deny all involvement. So whoever did it, the Jewish community believes, is trying to use them and this prospect of anti-Semitism to some sort of political end, some sort of wider political game they believe. They say that is particularly insensitive, inappropriate. It creates a terrible precedent and, really. It's an ugly card to play in a country that suffered enormously during the Nazi occupation during World War II where many Jews were massacred during that time. PEREIRA: A terrible reminder of a dark period in our world for certain.

We know that world leaders are waiting to see if this deal reached between Ukraine, Russia and the west is going to stick. Are you getting the impression that pro-Russian separatists are giving up buildings they took over or are they digging their heels in?

BLACK: They're not moving at all, Michaela. They said they were not part of this agreement, they didn't sign it, they don't have to follow it just because Russia says they should, which is a slight change of tune, I think. But what they're saying is, no, they will not be moving. They're not going to be following two key points part of this agreement fleshed out yesterday, giving up these occupied buildings, packing up and going home. And in cases where they have formed armed groups, laying down their weapons. They say they feel no need to do so. They do not believe their actions are illegal. They say the new government in Kiev, the national government there, is, in fact, illegal. The groups here, they say they're going to keep pushing to try and establish an independence day. They still hope to hold a referendum on that issue some time in early May. Pushing along, we're trying to repeat that model set by Crimea.

BERMAN: Interesting question would be, the agreement aside, if Vladimir Putin really wanted them to back out of these buildings, would they?

Phil black, great to have you in Donetsk, Ukraine. Appreciate it.

I want to turn now to one of our "CNN Heroes. Chef Bruno Sarato has been serving free pasta dinners to children in need for years. He was serving almost 200 children a day in Anaheim when we first heard about it.

PEREIRA: I get goose bumps talking about this. Since he was honored by CNN in 2011, the chef from Italy has expanded his program to reach 1,000 children five nights a week. Take a look at Bruno Sarata's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERRY SEINFELD, HOST: Please join me in honoring "CNN Hero," Bruno Sarato.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN HERO OF YEAR HOST: When Bruno was honored as a "CNN Hero" in 2011, he was serving pasta to nearly 200 low-income children a day in Anaheim, California.

BRUNO SARATO, CNN HERO: The pasta's ready.

COOPER: Since being rewarded, Bruno's program has grown significantly.

SARATO: Hi, kids, who likes my pasta?

(SHOUTING) SARATO: Now we are 1,000 kids a day, every single day, Monday through Friday.

COOPER: Reaching kids in three more cities in Orange County.

SARATO: Each time I serve a meal, each time I serve a kid, I know I give security to a little kid and he have a full stomach before he go to bed.

You like my pasta?

COOPER: But Bruno does more than just filling their stomach.

SARATO: I request one item, to share the table together. That means emotionally, the family of kids together, eating a big pasta together.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: It's delicious.

(SHOUTING)

COOPER: Bruno's group has also gone beyond food. He's helped move 55 homeless families out of motels and into their own apartments.

SARATO: What you think?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I love it!

SARATO: You see, their life completely, changed completely.

COOPER: With no plans to slow down, Bruno's meal program will be in the fifth city this summer.

SARATO: My goal is to go all over the nation. How can I stop when children are starving? The day children are not starving, I will stop.

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA: You don't think one person can make a difference?

BERMAN: It's infectious. That spirit is infectious.

PEREIRA: Little kids eating "skitties."

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

PEREIRA: Do you know someone who would you think should be a "CNN Hero," an everyday person making a difference? Please nominate them. You can do so at CNNheroes.com.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, we've heard such tales of tragedy out of the South Korea ferry but there's also stories of bravery, luck and determination from those who were able to make it off the capsized ferry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Is it a question of destiny, fortitude or sheer chance?

BERMAN: The survivors of the South Korean ferry accident are accounting how they escaped when that boat capsized.

Our Pauline Chou spoke to some of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULINE CHOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Survivors of the ferry accident continue telling incredible stories of pure luck and determination. I'm outside the hospital where several survivors are still recovering.

One survivor is 71-year-old Shing Yun Cha (ph). She was on the ferry with her friends for a holiday. She was watching TV in a big common room when she felt a jolt and the room filled up with water. She swam towards to some cabinets and tried to climb them like a staircase. Here's what happened next.

SHING YUN CHA (ph) (through translation): I didn't have enough strength to clip up. The young man in front of me pulled me up and said, hold on tight. Then when we got to the top of the cabinets, I saw the window. A man near me was banging on the window with a life jacket and somebody saw us. Then they turned the rescue boat toward us.

CHOU: There is another survivor story with a bittersweet ending. 6- year-old Faun Geyung (ph) was traveling with her parents and 7-year- old brother. Her brother put a life jacket on her and somehow she made it to the deck where passengers found her crying. They passed her on to rescuers. When she came to the hospital, the doctor said she was fine physically, but this is what he's concerned about.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN (through translation): My biggest concern is after going through this kind of disaster, she may experience post traumatic stress syndrome, especially when she finds out her parents and brother have died. Somehow she deals with this will be the biggest challenge. In my opinion, recovering from this kind of psychological shock would be the biggest concern.

CHOU: The child is now being taken care of by her two aunts and an uncle.

Pauline Chu, CNN, South Koreas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: You see the face of that 6-year-old girl, it's a miracle and a reason for hope amid all this just awful tragedy.

PEREIRA: Can't give up hope. Certainly, say a prayer if you're a believer or send some good thoughts to those families because they're going to be struggling. That wraps it up for us @ THIS HOUR. Good to be back together again, isn't it?

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: "LEGAL VIEW" with Don Lemon today starts right now.