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Official: Al Qaeda Militants Killed in Yemen; South Korean President: Ferry Crew's Actions "Akin to Murder"; Bluefin-21 Back in the Water; Boston Marathon Held 1 Year After Bombings

Aired April 21, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY starts right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, April 21st, 6:00 in the East.

And we have breaking news overnight: al Qaeda militants wiped out thanks to a joint exercise between the U.S. and Yemen. Calling the strikes massive and unprecedented, a high level official tells CNN 30 dead but that number is unconfirmed.

We're going to set to CNN's chief national correspondent Jim Sciutto in just a moment.

But first, let's go to CNN's Michelle Kosinski live at the White House with more.

What are we hearing?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Chris. And this is less than a week after a video emerged showing this big al Qaeda meeting in Yemen, leaving many to question did the U.S. miss that meeting? Did they miss the opportunity? Why wasn't there a drone strike then?

Now, for two days, we're hearing reports of what one Yemeni official is calling an unprecedented strike against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, within Yemen. As you mentioned, more than two dozen militants reported killed. And that official is characterizing this as a joint U.S./Yemen operation.

Now, implication is also that there have been drone strikes although that has not been confirmed but that was based on descriptions of the terrain. How difficult it would be to get troops into these very mountainous areas.

But as usual in this type of operation, at this point, the administration is not commenting. We're hoping to get more information later today, Chris.

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

Let's bring in chief national security correspondent, Mr. Jim Sciutto.

Jim, let's start with this video. This is the video at hand, came out last week. Was it significant at the time? Was it related to this necessarily?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was definitely significant at the time because it was so brazen, right? You had all these militants, many of them senior leaders, meeting in public during daylight hours, in a country where U.S. drones are often flying. No U.S. officials are going to make a direct connection between this and the operation that just took place. But certainly this was an embarrassment to the Yemeni government, arguably a challenge to the U.S., possibly an intelligence failure.

Now, it is possible that this turned into an intelligence opportunity and was one of the reasons they were led -- to carry out the attacks that took place in the last 48 hour.

CUOMO: It seems like it may have been an intelligence failure for the bad guys as well, seeing how putting themselves out there certainly heightened the significance of the situation. So, what do we know about where this was taking place and why?

SCIUTTO: So, the video took place in the Abyan province, just to the south, you know, the northwest coast -- east coast of Africa actually. And many of these strikes took place, 24, 48 hours ago, there were other strikes you might remember we were reporting where Yemeni officials said ten al Qaeda officials were struck, including three senior officials. So, you know, it's a series of strikes and now you have a combination of drone strikes with action on the ground. Not by U.S. troops but Yemeni troops.

You know, U.S. officials are not commenting on the drone strikes, but we do know that the U.S. is the only country that conducts drone strikes there. And there is intelligence cooperation between the Yemenis and the Americans on this.

CUOMO: So, we know that the place has become a hot bed. We also know this is an ongoing operation. Now, what does that mean? This has been two days so far?

SCIUTTO: It means they got a lot of bad guys in that country, right? We saw that in the video. It's been going on two days. They're going to go forward. And remember, it's also ongoing because they have to show their strength, you're right. I mean, this was an embarrassment but they have to follow through.

But it's also for Americans. You know, why do we care about this al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, it's called AQAP. This is a group that has its sights on America. You know, on American targets abroad, but also American targets at home. They tend to carry out attacks on U.S. homeland. We know they have aspirations to continue do that. So, this is not something that happens a million miles away. You know, it's something that does conceivably affect lives here back at home.

CUOMO: And you have the theoretical and the practical. The drones are very effective because you don't have to have boots on the ground. But they do come with this by-product of collateral damage, civilians being hurt. That's why it was qualified about the numbers, the Yemenis officials say 30 confirmed killed.

You know, is that going to be an important part going forward, them being able to clarify how many civilians were involved, hopefully, none?

SCIUTTO: Well, we already know that the attack that took place on Saturday. Three civilians were killed in the attack. It's often very likely, in fact, when you strike from the sky with good intelligence, arguably, but not perfect intelligence, that you're going to have collateral damage.

We've seen the damage that's caused to the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, for instance, or Afghanistan. I mean, we hear about this. Every time there's a strike, civilians are struck. This is a real driving force of anti-Americanism on the ground.

CUOMO: We've both been on the ground where drone strikes have occurred. And, basically, they can take out the entire area, no matter how good the intelligence is. And you have to think going forward, Jim, what will we hear in how much backlash there is, you know, on balancing that with the effect of this taking out the leadership?

SCIUTTO: That's always a challenge. I mean, historically, we've heard less in Yemen, and we've heard but more in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But it's also a different, the Yemeni government has less control, but it's something that the U.S. has to be conscious of, right? Because if the U.S. wants to be able to continue these separations here, which are a priority for the U.S., they got to keep those relationships. And the Yemeni government not exactly the most stable in the world, right? So any challenge to that government is, in effect, a challenge to the U.S.

CUOMO: Jim, thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective. We'll find out more as the hits continue, we'll get information and bring it to you.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Let's turn to the grim recovery effort to the ferry disaster in South Korea. The death toll continues to rise as the country's president is condemning the sunken ferry's captain and crew. Overnight, four more crew members were arrested in connection with the deadly accident as nearly 240 people, many of them high school students, remain missing. CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Jindo, South Korea, for us with the very latest.

Good morning, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's a heartbreaking day in the harbor as the families here are being brought here and these desperate families have to walk through the tent where is they're laid out to see if their child is one of those retrieved from the ship. And given how many people are still missing, this is a scene that's going to be playing out a lot over the coming days.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): This morning, the investigation into what went wrong is ramping up. Four additional crew members arrested overnight as the country's president blasts the ship's captain directly, calling his actions, quote, "akin to murder."

He's now charged with negligence. Though he was not at the helm, his third officer was. Prosecutors still accused him of failing to slow the ship down, causing the ship to make an excessive turn. Newly released calls between an unidentified crew member and boat traffic control shed new light on what exactly happened.

"Our ship is in danger," he says. "The ship is rolling right now."

By that time, the ship had already tilted too far for the majority of passengers to move or to deploy lifeboats. Five minutes later, boat traffic control urged the unidentified crew member on the radio to prepare for evacuation saying, "Please put on the life vests and get ready as people may have to abandon ship."

Then after 30 minutes, both traffic encouraged the captain to take charge and make the final decision to escape. The crew member questioned the retreat asking if passengers would immediately be rescued.

And now, the grim task of retrieving the dead continues as families angry and anguished wait for news.

HANCOCKS: And families are asking why it's not happening quicker. They're making a lot of criticism, saying that all the bodies, or at least a chance of looking for survivors should have happened already. But I did speak to one diver who said visibility was so bad, when he was out there, he couldn't even get in the water. He said when he came back to the harbor empty-handed, he couldn't look at the families.

Back to you.

CUOMO: Well, essentially that has become a recovery mission there. We'll stay on top it of it along with the investigation.

Now, switching to another mystery. Right now, that Bluefin-21, the underwater drone looking for Flight 370 is back in the water scanning for the missing flight. So far, more than two-thirds of the underwater search has been covered with no sign of the missing plane.

Let's get right to CNN's Erin McLaughlin. She's in Perth Australia with more.

So, are they starting to get nervous about the search area?


Well, the next few days are mission critical. I wouldn't say they're nervous. I'd say they're focused. Why? Because they're searching in the area right now where they believe is the most likely place where they're going to find the black box, based on the albeit and limited set of data that they have, that they're homed in on the second acoustic detention that lasted some 13 minutes. It was the strongest signal of the four that that towed pinger locator was able to pick up, and they're searching in a six-mile radius around that point.

The Bluefin 21 slowly and meticulously combing those waters. Nothing found so far. They have 70 percent of that area covered. They have another 30 to go.

Australian authorities saying it could take another few days before completing that search, that's if the Bluefin 21 performs as expected and if the weather holds which is a big if. Considering there is a tropical cyclone named Jack to the north of the search area, currently making its way south, at the moment not appearing to impact the Bluefin's operation. Last time we checked, it was in the water on its ninth mission -- Chris.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I'll take it here, Erin. That cyclone could cause wind and rain in the area, even though it's not a direct hit. Thank you for that.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines right now. There has been a spike in violence as tensions reach a boiling point in Ukraine. Pro-Russian groups said one of their points came under attack. A shoot-out ensued. Six people dead. All of this came a day ahead of a visit from Vice President Biden, who's making a show for Ukraine's interim government.

Breaking overnight, quite a mystery. The FBI is investigating a teen stowaway who they say stowed away in a jet from California to Maui in the landing gear wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet. The 16-year- old survived the distance despite a lack of oxygen and frigid temperatures at 38,000. The teen reportedly ran away from his family. He's now being taken care of by child protective services in Hawaii. We'll have more of this on the story later in our show.

The entire climbing season on Mt. Everest could be canceled after the deadly avalanche. That's because the native Sherpas who guide climbers up to the world's tallest mountain are threatening to go on strike. At least 13 Sherpa guides died as they prepare the route to the summit. Sherpa community is upset with Nepal's plan to compensate the families. Apparently, it's barely equivalent to $400.

So, you can understand -- BOLDUAN: A horrible disaster.

PEREIRA: Yes, a horrible disaster, the worst in history. A lot of things are changing. Remember, we met the flight -- the winged suit flyer who was going to do a jump with Discovery, they've canceled that out of respect to the families who lost.


PEREIRA: It really does.

CUOMO: Just a dangerous game, and you know why those families are upset.


CUOMO: All right. Let's come back home here and tune into what is supposed to be just a spectacular, the best ever in terms of how many people are going to watch, the Boston marathon. Of course, we all know it's one year since those deadly bombs tore apart the finish line up there in Boston.

But today is a new day. They're expecting a record number of spectators. So, security will be unprecedented at the race. Thousands of officers will be monitoring what they're calling a ring of steel, surrounding the 36,000 runners.

Well, less than three hours away from start time. John Berman on the scene at the marathon starting point in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

What's it like up there, J.B.?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Chris, they call Hopkinton, a town of 15,000, they say this is where it all begins. You know, the population essentially triples here with 36,000 runners showing up.

But where it all begins is sort of metaphor for today. It's a new beginning for this race and for this area as people reclaim the Boston marathon as a celebration, turn the frag (ph) the terror that was one year ago where three people were killed at the finish line.

This race, as we said, some 36,000 people will be running, one million people will be watching. And as for security, they are ready.


BERMAN (voice-over): The security here unprecedented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have plenty of assets. And if need be, they'll be rolling in very quickly.

BERMAN: More than 3500 police officers uniformed and undercover patrolling the streets, 100 more security cams are in place to watch the huge crowd. The eyes of the whole world on Boston for the 118th marathon. Organizers expecting a record turnout with about 1 million spectators lining the 26.2-mile course. They'll be cheering on 36,000 runners. That's 9,000 more than last year. Many looking for their student to finally cross that finish line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very emotional because I was right on Boylston Street when the second bomb went off. So, it means a lot to be able to come back and hopefully finish, cross the finish line this year.

BERMAN: Other runners injured in the blast now show what it mean to be Boston strong.

TOM GRILK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: It means above all that we never, ever give in to anything.

BERMAN: A renewed sense of pride and purpose, after the bombings during last year's race. Three people were killed that day.

The White family was among 264 who were injured. Mary Jo suffered a broken wrist. Her husband Bill lost his leg. Son Kevin had shrapnel all through his body. But that's not stopping him from running this year.

(on camera): Any fears of being at the finish line?

MARY JO WHITE, INJURED IN BOMBING: If I have any, they're pretty far back. So, I'm not really dwelling on them.

KEVIN WHITE, INJURED IN BOSTON: I also think it's probably going to be one safest places that day.

BERMAN: It's going to be one of the safest places in history ever.



BERMAN: So, Kevin White who is running told me that today is a day that tears of pain will be replaced by tears of joy. He's so excited for this race. He's actually signed up for his second marathon a few months from now.

But security, you know, will be unprecedented. Fans are being told they can have backpacks and strollers, just be smart about it if you're coming to this race, make everyone's job easier here, security easier for those people patrolling the streets. But today very much a celebration -- Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: There's a sensitivity up there.

I saw you running with Kevin. You looked strong, J.B., I was a little surprised that you weren't entering the race. I know your commitment to CNN is the only reason you aren't able to do this year. You're certainly in shape to do it.

BERMAN: It's the only reason.

BOLDUAN: Yes, the only reason.

And amazing and worth pointing out, about 1 million people are turning out to see this. That's a testament.

CUOMO: That will be the record. I don't think they'll have a record number of runners. I think it's more impressive they're going to have a record number of spectators. Boston is always seen as a huge city. Our thanks to J.B., we'll be back to him.

But, you know, it's only 600,000 people. So, there's an intimacy there as well. You really feel it when you're up there. They've come together the way I've seen few cities have ever come together.

BOLDUAN: We'll watch it all with them today.

Let's get over to Chad Myers, who's in for Indra Petersons, tracking the latest forecast.

First off, how's it going to look in Boston, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's going to be great.

And, Chris, I know why you're not doing it, because there are no blueberry donuts available in Boston. They are sold out --

CUOMO: They had a hat with a blueberry fix like this, I would chase it 26 miles.


PEREIRA: Cuomo, this is a problem.

MYERS: From what I understand, great running conditions from the runners I've talked to, 50s for the highs. Nice temperatures even by 3:00, they're still out there, high of only about 61.

The rain is in the west. Clear in the east. Great in New York City and Boston, all the way down the East Coast. That's going to stay that way for tomorrow, though.

Tomorrow night, the rain gets to Boston, to New York City and Philadelphia, all the way down to D.C., let it go there. High pressure backing in control.

A nice couple of days in store for the East Coast, a stormy couple of days for the Midwest. We've had almost a record low number of tornadoes so far this year. Let's hope that doesn't change this week a little bit, but there will be a severe chance of severe weather later on today.

BOLDUAN: All right. We'll be watching it. Thanks so much, Chad.

MYERS: All right. So, let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. We now know they're two-thirds of the way done, and no sign of Flight 370 on the floor. So is there a plan if this last third doesn't reveal anything? We're going to talk to the experts and take the best guess.

BOLDUAN: Plus, more deaths after the deadly ferry accident in South Korea. The country's president suggesting actions by the captain and his crew were akin to murder. New questions on what went wrong and if it could happen here.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

New developments this morning in the search for Flight 370. Overnight, the Bluefin 21 went back into the water to scan the ocean floor for debris. Two-thirds of the underwater search hear has now been covered by the Bluefin, but with no points of interest -- that's how they describe it -- no points of interest yet found.

Joining to us discuss, Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. And David Gallo, also CNN analyst and director of special projects a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Good morning to both of you.

So, David, let me start with you.

We're now in its ninth mission, the Bluefin and the conversation continues which is, we need a couple more days. There are two-thirds of the way done, searching this area. They're focusing on a six-mile radius.

If they don't find debris, what would you suggest is the next step?

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: Well, yes, I don't want to cut them short because they do have a third of the area to go. And, you know, they've gotten the bugs out of the system. There's a ring them in to the operation and now is the time frame. And they are in the prime area, so let's keep our fingers crossed and prayers with them.

Well, the next comes after this, if this doesn't pan out, it comes to regrouping, sitting back with that white board and wondering what do we do next, do we expand this area or go to another area altogether.

BOLDUAN: And there is a tropical cyclone in the area, David. It's northwest of the search area, it's not going to be a direct hit of any kind. But what would the impact at this point be of that wind, of that rain, on the search efforts?

GALLO: Yes, I hope that stays well clear of here. I took a look at the weather, predicted weather, wind and waves for that area. It doesn't look like it's going to have that big of an impact on them. Any kind of wind or waves is going to slow things down quite a bit and if it gets too bad, it's going to slow them down for a few days.

BOLDUAN: That's the last thing we need at this point for sure.

Mary, let me ask you. A couple of new things came out over the weekend I want to get your take on. And they seem small, but every small detail works to this assumption of where we think the plane went and the flight path that it took. We're now told, sources are telling CNN, that that initial left turn that's so important where the plane ended up, it was within Vietnamese air space, still well over the water. It remains at about 39,000 feet for 20 minutes over the Malay Peninsula before it began descending.

How does that change, if it changes at all, our working assumption of what we know happen to the plane?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it changes a lot of -- I guess a lot of theories, shall we call it, of what people thought may have caused the plane to do what it did. And that is initially, people were theorizing that it's something nefarious was going on board. They had to make that left-hand turn after the handoff from Malaysian air traffic control, but before they entered Vietnamese airspace because the theory goes that somebody doing something nefarious in the cockpit would want to make that change before being they could be picked up by Vietnamese radar.

Well, now, apparently, it isn't the case at all. That this actually happened in Vietnamese airspace which then brings the question, did Vietnamese radar see anything. And then with the altitude information, we had yet another set of altitude data. This is the third or fourth different set of altitude data.

But again, it does not have them climbing or descending down below the commercial traffic area, which previous theories included components where they got down and out of the way of other air traffic, to carry out whatever it was people were theorizing they were carrying out.

So I think once again, this changes a lot of assumptions that people had. But it doesn't change the basic facts about what happened to the aircraft and they have to find where it ended up.

BOLDUAN: Does this tell you, Mary, anything about the course of the investigation? I think we all keep going back to check our notes. I was surprised to see yet another set of altitude data coming out, making sure I had this correct this time of around. In the course of a typical crash investigation, does altitude and these kind of basic facts, it seems, does it change this much?

SCHIAVO: No, it does not. And the reason it doesn't, in most investigations you do have a couple things that apparently are missing here.

One is you have reliable air traffic control data. And at a minimum, you have the air traffic controllers voices on a air traffic control transcript or tape that's released. In the United States, that's public. That's released. You can get the air traffic control communications.

And, two, you usually have a black box flight data recorder which would unequivocally tell you the altitude, flight control and placement and movement. Engine performance, you know what the engines are doing and have none of that here. And, of course, most of all, why don't we have reliable reports from the several countries in the area whose radar the plane might have been captured upon.

BOLDUAN: Still this many days, more than a month in, still waiting for that kind of information.

Mary, David, thanks so much. When we get back to you guys later in the show, I want to ask you what role the emergency locator transmitter, another bit of technology on this plane, what role that plays in this investigation. We'll get back to you guys shortly in the show.


CUOMO: All right. Kate, coming up on NEW DAY, the president of South Korea suggests the captain and crew could have the blood of some 300 on their hands. We'll give you the very latest on that disaster going on off the South Korean coast.

What more could the crew have done. There are transcripts. You listen, you decide.

And, how did a 16-year-old survive for five hours hidden in the wheel well of an airplane. I guess the better question is, could a teen survive it? Now, there are new questions about airport security and other things. We'll go through 'em.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to Monday, and welcome back to NEW DAY.