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Arrest Warrant Issued for Captain, 2 Crew Members; Scanning the Ocean for Flight 370; Separatist Leader Rejects Ukraine Deal

Aired April 18, 2014 - 08:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning: an arrest warrant issued for the captain and two crew members of the South Korean ferry that capsized; 268 people are still missing at this hour. As we've learned, a vice principal rescued from the ship has apparently hanged himself. Many of the missing are believed to be his high school students.

This morning rescue divers had to turn back after getting inside the ferry's second deck, but only for a very short time.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Jindo, South Korea with the latest -- Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, new in to CNN, we just obtained the transcript between Jeju traffic control and the ship itself. We heard the person on the island asked if there were any injured people. The person on the ship said it's impossible to confirm, the body of the ship is tilted. Also saying containers in the ship had fallen over.

Traffic control said please get on the life vests, get ready as people may have to abandon ship. And the person on the ship said it's hard for people to move. This will be looked at very closely as some survivors say that they were told not to move. There are fears that lost lives.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): This morning, divers in South Korea have finally made their way into the ship's hull. The ship now completely submerged under choppy seas, the strong currents in murky water making any rescue efforts nearly impossible. Rescuers this morning pumping oxygen into the ship in the hopes of providing air to anyone inside who may be alive.

But for desperate families waiting for answers, it's not enough. They're pleading with authorities to do more, releasing a statement saying, "We are making this appeal with tears because we are so furious with the way the government is handling this." Namsing Wan (ph) is waiting for word on his 16-year-old nephew.

NAMSING WAN, (ph) NEPHEW WAS ON SUNKEN SHIP: So even if how hard it is, how difficult it is, how hard it is, I don't care. I want to hear the truth.

HANCOCK: And new questions this morning, why when the ship took 2 1/2 hours to capsize, were hundreds still trapped? The captain, we now know, was one of the first to be rescued, while close to 300 passengers told not to move. And investigators now revealing that he was not at the helm at the time of the accident; his third officer was.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I'm at a loss for words."


HANCOCKS: And we know an arrest warrant has been issued for the captain and two other crew members. Relatives here at the harbor in Jindo are basically asking why are they spending a third night sitting at the water wondering where their child is.

Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: Paula, thank you very much.

Joining us is maritime consultant, Captain James Staples.

Captain, can you hear us OK?


CUOMO: I want to get clarification from you, as we're taking a look at what will happen going forward, is it true on ships of this size, there are often flight recorders like the ones we're looking for in Flight 370 where they'll tell us what was going on at the helm?

STAPLES: Generally, there are on ships, we have what they call a VDR, a voice data recorder which will take all the data from the ship's particulars from the helm orders, from the commands. It also has the voice commands. So they should have that on board. I'm not sure if that vessel meets that criteria.

CUOMO: I want to ask you if it makes sense what we're hearing about arrest warrants. We know the captain wasn't at the help. Captains aren't required to be at the helm at all times. Then we hear what was said in that transcript. What sense do you make of the situation?

STAPLES: Well, that's true. The captain is on the bridge 24 hours a day. He has a watch officer that stands different watches. There's usually a four-hour watch they'll be on. The captain is the overriding administrator on board the vessel. He's the one to make sure everybody is doing their particular job that they do.

So, it's not -- it's understandable he may not be there at that particular time when it happened, and the third officer was on duty. The helmsman would have been steering the vessel at that time. Generally, as we see now, after an incident there usually are criminal warrants issued if there's negligence.

CUOMO: Obviously that become it is next question. Is the decision you made or did not make rising to the level of a crime? Here when you hear that people were told to stay in place, a lot of these people were teenagers, what do you make of that?

STAPLES: Yes, absolutely correct. Time was of the essence here in this situation. Obviously they had a catastrophic event happen on that vessel and she took a major list. When this happened initially, they should have realized that there was no way they could have corrected the list with just the pumps alone. It sounds like they were having cargo shifting. The captain should have made the initial command to evacuate that vessel as soon as possible and we probably wouldn't see the situation we're in right now of trying to rescue 300- odd people.

CUOMO: Now, captain, why isn't that hindsight seeing 20/20? You know, because often, it's like it's easy to say now. I should have evacuated. Then, we didn't think it was going to be that bad.

When you know the timing of how things occurred here, can there be a suggestion that it was a close call?

STAPLES: Well, we could be.

But we've got to also understand, you know, we don't know where the captain was at the time when the incident happened. He may have been called to the bridge immediately as soon as they started happen, so he's trying to get all the facts and figures as to what's going on. He's trying to get the assumption of what's happening with the vessel and then try to make a decision on top of that.

He's probably talking to the chief engineer in the engine room, trying to get information from him. He's talking to the officer on the watch. So, he's getting a lot of information and he's trying to process this to try to make a very good decision.

Obviously, it looks like his delay in the timing was poor, and his decision making probably wasn't where it should have been. One of the things we try to do now is put people under high stress situations in a simulator-type atmosphere, to see how they can react because we're finding out that people don't multitask as well as we thought they did.

CUOMO: We're not sure that kind of testing was done in this situation is part of the scrutiny. Another part of the scrutiny is related to the idea that the captain goes down with the ship, as antiquated a notion as that may be.

We do know the captain and some of the crew were rescued. They left the ship not by lifeboat, but were found in the water. There is no reporting yet that anyone saw them leave which could suggest that they stayed on as long as they could.

What do you make of that?

STAPLES: Yes, absolutely. The captain's first obligation is for the safety of his crew and passengers. He should stay on board that vessel until he knows everybody is safely evacuated.

And then the other reason he stays onboard the vessel is for salvage rights. For the captain to leave the vessel in an early situation, it's not the way it should be done.

We don't know if the coast guard demanded him to get off at that time. They may have been alongside and told the captain he had to get off at that time. We're not sure what happened there.

But, generally speaking, the captain is the last person to get off that vessel.

CUOMO: It's interesting. As unique as it seemed at the time, we're hearing echoes of the Costa Concordia, the Italian ship. Obviously, that one hit a rock. We don't know here if this hit anything. The water is pretty open, according to the charge.

But, again, issues with captain, issues with attention at the helm, issues with what was done when. So, we'll follow through the investigation.

Captain Staples, thank you very much for the information this morning.


STAPLES: My pleasure. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Let's get now to the latest on the search for Flight 370.

Malaysian officials are now looking to put more equipment possibly in the water to aid the search. They're hoping more unmanned subs can help, of course, find the plane. One of them, the Bluefin-21 is in the water right now, but hasn't yet found anything from the plane.

Let's bring in our two experts to talk about the latest. David Gallo, CNN analyst, former co-director of the search for Air France Flight 447 and also David Soucie, he is a CNN safety analyst and former FAA inspector.

So, David Gallo, let's start with that latest point, that Malaysian authorities now say they are open to exploring the idea of bringing in more underwater vehicles. How would that change the game beyond the obvious when you say more resources mean you can cover a bigger area?

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: Yes. I mean, it means a lot more organization. The first thing they should start with is a white board and some sharpies, some brand new sharpies, and figure out exactly what they're asking for, how are you going to deploy all this new equipment and who is going to be in control, how do you handle the data.

You know, you can make things a lot more complicated by having someone out there mapping and not knowing what they're doing exactly. So you have to second-guess if they've actually missed the aircraft, gone over the plane and missed it by mistake.

BOLDUAN: So, do you think, David Gallo, that this isn't a good idea to begin exploring at this point?

GALLO: You know, with Air France we spent more time thinking about what to do next before we launched our -- the next phase and ultimately ended up with one ship, one team, one set of technology and one mission to find that black box.

This is a bit different because they're talking about a new survey area. Honestly, I've been watching the HMS Echo mapping. They look like they're out to the northwest. It gets a lot deeper. There's only a handful of tools that can get that deep.

So, it's going to take some careful consideration about what groups they bring in and what those groups are going to do.

BOLDUAN: So, it could takes weeks as you have noted, David Gallo.

David Soucie, we know we haven't found debris from the plane yet. That's what they told us. We now have five missions. Have we learned anything?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, I think we've learned about the capabilities of what the Bluefin can do. More importantly, I think they've established the fact that they've got a baseline for the quality of the images that they're getting back from sonar and they know what the terrain is like. They can understand more about what's normal so that now if they come across a manmade object, it will stand out a little more clearly.

So, I think we have learned a little bit. I think they're educated on that particular area in that region.

BOLDUAN: We're talking about, where would they go next if they do regroup and reconsider? One thing is, they'd expand the search area by quite a lot.

Another idea you had is kind of going back to the beginning to rework, in my mind -- redo your map. Look at each of the assumptions you've made to make sure you're still confident in it. Is it easy to say what assumption, if there is an assumption that they're working with, that you think is questionable?

SOUCIE: Well, again, I don't have as much information as they development clearly they're not sharing everything and they're not in the investigation. From my aspect, the things that are most questionable in my mind would be the Malaysian radar as to where the starting point was.

Radar is a very tricky beast. I haven't seen the actual radar, but just by changing intensity, you can add or remove hits or pings on that radar. So to me, if you have the mindset that we know it went this way, you can end up connecting dots that don't necessarily connect. So, I think that would be the least -- at least I have the least confidence in that particular part of the assumptions.

BOLDUAN: And, David Gallo, before you move on to expanding the search area which adds additional challenges or bringing in more equipment which adds more complexity, as you pointed out, is it worthwhile re- evaluating or going back over the areas you have already scanned? Is it likely they could have missed something?

GALLO: I think this group out there now, Phoenix International, they've got a track record of success, and I'd be very confident in what they've done up to this point. So I don't think that part is necessary.

BOLDUAN: All right. Well, one thing you can check off the list. What do you do next? But they still have days to be working through this search area, this 500 square miles because they really have only covered a fraction of it so far.

David Gallo, David Soucie, thanks, guys.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Kate, thank you. Let's take more -- look at more of your headlines right now.

We're following breaking news: an avalanche in Mount Everest has killed at least 12 Sherpa guides. Four others are still missing. A rescue operation is currently under way.

Officials in Nepal says this has happened more than 20,000 feet above sea level, just above base camp. Those guides were preparing the route to the summit for climbers when it hit. This is the single deadliest accident ever on the world's tallest mountain.

This morning, a self-proclaimed separatist leader in eastern Ukraine rejecting an international deal saying his men won't leave occupied government buildings until Kiev's government leaves power. That a day after Jewish residents in one city were given leaflets demanding they register themselves and pay a fee or face deportation.

President Obama says the latest health care enrollment numbers up to success -- 8 million people have now signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-five percent of those enrolled are under age 35. Critics say that's not enough to keep the program solvent. But the president says it is proof positive that Obamacare is working.

Two different sides of the same argument.

BOLDUAN: People only look at Obamacare through a political lens. No middle ground on that.

CUOMO: It will continue and we'll hear a lot more about it as we get into midterms. That's for sure.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the opposition leader in Ukraine has upped the stakes. Are they closer now to outright civil war there? Also, new information about what the Pentagon says the U.S. is going to do to bring temperatures down. >

BOLDUAN: The ferry disaster in South Korea, what went so horribly wrong and how complicated is the rescue effort now that it's urgently underway. A former Navy SEAL will be joining us later.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Bad news from Ukraine. This morning a man who calls himself an opposition leader is refusing the international deal to end his occupation of government buildings. This comes as the U.S. is promising more non-lethal aid for the Ukrainian government.

Here to talk about it is Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby.

Admiral, thank you for joining us. What does this mean? Non-lethal new aid?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, what we've already done is sent some rations. The president just this week approved a package totaling $6.4 million to support Ukraine and the state border guard service. And this will be items like water purification, uniforms, medical supplies and the kinds of things that can help them sustain themselves in the field.

CUOMO: Many would suggest that the strongest message the U.S. can send is military might. What would have to happen for this to be a consideration in this situation?

KIRBY: Well, look, that's up to the commander in chief. I think you heard the president yesterday say he does not see a U.S. military solution to this crisis. The focus right now is appropriately on diplomatic and economic pressure where we find hopeful the agreement out of Geneva yesterday, we hope Russia will meet its obligations under that agreement.

But the focus right now is on trying to help the Ukrainian armed forces and state guard sustain themselves. And again, the president said there's no U.S. military solution to this crisis.

CUOMO: Understood. One of the things they need help with is intel. It does seem the most important weapon right now is propaganda. What do you make of these threats against Jews? Do we take those seriously on their face or do we believe they're an ugly ploy.

KIRBY: Well, it's hard to say right now. I mean, it's very difficult to say. But certainly we stand by the people of Ukraine no matter who they are, no matter what faith they practice. We call on all parties to de-escalate the tension.

We want peace. We want stability there. And none of this is helpful to reaching that goal.

CUOMO: Russia was one of the signatories to this four-party agreement saying put down your arms. Is there a hypocrisy involved in their involvement of that part of it when there's speculation that these pro-Russian troops are, in fact, Russian troops?

KIRBY: Well, we certainly believe that Russia has a hand in those forces, those uniform personnel in eastern Ukraine. But again, we're hopeful, based on the four-party talks yesterday, we're hopeful about the agreement. Now it's time for Russia to meet the obligations under that agreement and to help disarm and to remove from those buildings those armed militants.

CUOMO: The direction of what's going on on the ground there, how -- how likely do you believe at this point of outright civil war there?

KIRBY: Well, obviously, I mean, look, it's hard to get into a hypothetical on this. That's not the goal anybody wants. Nobody wants to see this break into violence.

Our whole goal throughout this entire process as a government has been to encourage the sovereignty of Ukraine, to see the territorial integrity of Ukraine reinstalled. We want to see stability. We want to see peace there. Nobody has an interest in further violence.

CUOMO: The idea that Putin is suggesting that the eastern part of Ukraine be called the new Russia does seem to smack of the reorganization of communist states. What do you make of that?

KIRBY: Ukraine is Ukraine. Ukrainian territory is Ukrainian territory. It belongs to the people of Ukraine and that's our position.

CUOMO: Were you surprised to hear Vladimir Putin said I did have troops in Crimea who were assisting in the process, when that's been denied for so long from their side?

KIRBY: Well, I think -- I mean, I don't know about surprised. It wasn't a surprise to us that those were Russian troops in Crimea. So, that he finally came clean, I think good for him. But we knew that all along.

CUOMO: Secretary Hagel had discussions with the Russians about what happened with one of their jets and one of the U.S. ships in the region. Do you think a message was communicated that will stop that type of action going forward?

KIRBY: We certainly hope so, Chris. I mean, that's the goal.

Again, what we want to see is tensions de-escalated. There's no reason to raise it higher than it is. The ship was never really under any threat.

Secretary Hagel, as you said, we did communicate our displeasure over that and our concern through military channels. Again, this is a time for Russia to meet its obligations to stop isolating itself and start to behave as a responsible member of the international community.

CUOMO: Let's tip the scales the other way for a second, admiral, with the benefit of U.S. intelligence on the ground there, how much of this fomenting is coming from the Ukrainian government side?

KIRBY: I -- look, I think we need to remind ourselves that it is Russia who took over operational control of Crimea. It is -- we see the hand of Russia in the violence and the activities in eastern Ukraine right now, and it is Russia who must meet their international obligations and work to de-escalate the tensions.

CUOMO: Bu is it fair to say there is tension in the eastern part of that country, there has been ugliness there. There is some agreement about whether the ruling government in Kiev is the right one. That is also fair.

KIRBY: I think there's lots of people having that debate and that discussion, absolutely. Look, in our discussions with the Ukrainian government, they, too, have agreed that the use of force is not the desired outcome.

But they also have an obligation to protect law and order in their country. They also have an obligation to respond if that law and order is threatened. So, look, I think there's an opportunity here after Geneva for everybody to take a step back, meet their obligations and de-escalate the tensions there.

CUOMO: Admiral Kirby, appreciate you parsing the issues this morning. Look forward to talking to you going forward.

KIRBY: Thanks, Chris. My pleasure.

CUOMO: Happy Easter to you.


KIRBY: And to you as well.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, with hundreds still missing in capsized ferry, arrest warrants have been issued for the captain and two crew members. But are they to blame? What went wrong on that ferry?

A former Navy SEAL is joining us to talk about the rescue efforts.

Also, the search effort continues for Flight 370. But what will the recovery look like on the ocean's floor. We'll go live inside a submarine 50 feet below the surface back to our Martin Savidge.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Rescue crews are desperately trying to get to the 268 people they still believe are missing in the South Korea ferry disaster. As arrest warrants have been issued for the captain and to crew members.

Let's dig deeper into what's going on and the challenges ahead with former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley. Cade, thank you so much for sticking around again. Let's get right to what we know, where things are now. This is kind of where we were yesterday, right? This is when the bow was still above the surface.

Let's go to the next one so you can walk ups through this. This is important -- we'll get to capacity in a second. The rescuers have been really up against it. They've had a really hard time getting in. What are the conditions they're facing? Why is this so difficult?

CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Worst case scenario: 50 to 55-degree water temp, zero visibility for the most part, and then you're getting tossed around based on the sea state.

And now, they're having to deal with -- that's the area where they're trying to search, OK? That's where most of the people were. That's the surface. You're looking at 50 feet they need to go down just to get started to search for possible air pockets, possible survivors.

BOLDUAN: They're trained for worst case scenarios. You have to deal with whatever you're up against, right? What is the general guideline? How do you go about it?

You kind of think you want to go up first, but that's not where you want to go.

COURTLEY: Well, that's the crazy thing. For the people that are inside, it's very counterintuitive.