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South Korean President Condemns Crew's Actions; Source: Flight 370 Reached 39,000 Feet for 30 Minutes; Red Sox Pay Tribute; 16-Year- Old Survives Being a Stowaway

Aired April 21, 2014 - 06:30   ET


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

Let's take a look at your headlines.

Breaking overnight: at least 30 militants have been killed in an operation targeting al Qaeda in Yemen. A government official tells CNN the operation is, quote, "massive and unprecedented" and is a joint operation between the U.S. and Yemen. The strikes are focused in southern Yemen, near an area where al Qaeda followers gathered recently to hear from the head of the network's Yemeni branch.

Four more crew members of the sunken South Korean ferry have been arrested now as suspects in the deadly accident. South Korea's president says the actions of the captain and crew were unacceptable, unforgivable, and akin to murder. Sixty-five people have been confirmed dead, 237 remain missing.

New video of the search has been released. You can seat murky conditions and low visibility facing crews. All you can see is the rope guiding them along.

Vice President Joe Biden heading to Ukraine today. The visit is a show of support for Kiev's interim government, which is trying to fend off aggression from the Russians. This visit comes a day after the conflict again turned deadly. Pro-Russian groups say one of their road blocks in the east came under attack. Six people were killed in that shoot-out.

Chris, those are your headlines.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Mick, let's get back to the ferry now. We have the captain and crew of that ferry are now under intense scrutiny by the president and investigators. They're questioning what could have been done to save the passengers on board. It's a more difficult question than you might think.

We have with us, Captain James Staples. He's here with us. He is with Ocean, River LLC Maritime Consultants Organization. He's also a cargo ship captain and maritime safety consultant.

Captain, appreciate you being with us this morning. CAPT. JAMES STAPLES, MARITIME SAFETY CONSULTANT: Good morning, Chris.

CUOMO: Now, we have some good schematics to help with the situation. But first, this is all about what happened and when. And to this point, we still don't know why this happened, right?

STAPLES: That's correct.

CUOMO: And that's going to be a key component in assessing the actions of the crew, yes?

STAPLES: Absolutely.

CUOMO: So, something to keep in mind, as damning as it seems right now, especially when you hear the transcript, we don't know what started it.

STAPLES: That's correct.

CUOMO: And just other question before we get to this -- the idea that a hard turn that could make a ship of this size capsize. Does that sound odd to you?

STAPLES: It is odd. Every ship should be able to take a turn left or right with no problem at all and remain with stability.

CUOMO: There's a lot of speculation about the turn but that doesn't make sense to you at this point?

STAPLES: No, it doesn't.

CUOMO: Let's take a look at what we understand. We start the voyage, zero degrees means you're up and down. Everything's good, right?

STAPLES: That's correct.

CUOMO: They start going down. Take it back. Thanks for that. They start going down. It's foggy. The voyage is delayed two hours. That's what they're heading into as those conditions.

So, now, we want to go forward. That's 9:01, we're at 15 degrees. OK?

So, 15 degrees, that would have been to be an natural list, right?

STAPLES: Absolutely. Those types of weather conditions, they should not have rolled 15 degrees.

CUOMO: So, something happened. We don't know from the transcript that they were communicated, but in your knowledge, if you were to list at 15 degrees, you'd be telling somebody?

STAPLES: Oh, absolutely, I'd be making the announcements already, probably when the ship started going to 10 I'd be very concerned. And once you got to 15, I'd definitely would have say, we need to start doing something right now. CUOMO: And that ain't just from turning the rudder?

STAPLES: No, well, she should lay over when you turn on the ladder, but she should come back fairly quick as you straighten back up.

CUOMO: So, could you go 15 degrees turning the rudder?

STAPLES: You could if you have marginal stability.

CUOMO: OK, marginal stability meaning --

STAPLES: Marginal stability with a turn like that.

CUOMO: OK. So, next -- all right. So, now, 10 minutes or later or so, you're at 43 degrees. This is not something that's going to happen just from normal conditions of piloting the ship?

STAPLES: No. Absolutely, like we just saw at 15 degrees, if she had not returned back to her normal position then you know something's wrong.

CUOMO: Right.

STAPLES: So as she continues to go over, that's when you make your announcements to get people evacuated. As we can see, we're talking 10 minutes here, that's enough time to get people out of the ship and into an open area.

CUOMO: Now, the captain is very specific about two points, the crew member, whoever it is that's communicating. Two things: one, it's too pitched to get people off. We can't use the boats. It's too hard for them to move. We can't move ourselves but for one step in the helm.

Does that make sense?

STAPLES: It would be very difficult at 43 degrees. When you're looking at something like this, you've got no other options, you have to move. You have to do something. Just staying there is not going to be futile (ph).

CUOMO: The second thing that they pressed in the transcripts is, hey, are you sure these people are going to get picked up because these are fast currents, the water's cold. They seem to be expressing concern for those on board.

STAPLES: Correct.

CUOMO: You know, not that this is about a lack of concern. They're afraid these people are going to go in the water and they're going to die there because they won't be rescued in time with the current and temperature.

Is that a fair part of the assessment?

STAPLES: That's a very legitimate concern. The temperature is very cold. The current's very quick. But the thing to do in the very beginning was initially get those life rafts launched. And you could have people, if they had gotten into the water, they would have had some place to go.

CUOMO: So the question becomes, did they have time before the pitch became extreme to get the boats and people in the water?

STAPLES: Absolutely they did. Ten minutes from 15 to 43, absolutely, they did.

CUOMO: And then we see, you know, the boat at 60 degrees. Obviously, it's now like going up a mountain. But the question of when you did things and why. The transcript hasn't revealed that to us.

So, now, if we go into the next things -- all right. This issue, again, this is about the accountability of the captain and crew because we don't understand why this happened. It's not like something else hit it. They are communicating. This is basically where they were. South Korea coming down this way.

No -- even though you see these outlying things. On the actual chart map, they were in deep water, it's good. It's quick water. Cold water. But there was nothing that made you think oh, you made a wrong turn. You're going to hit a rock.

STAPLES: Correct.

CUOMO: They start communicating with the service that's not closest to them. And does that make a big difference in terms of the responsibility of the crew and the time it's going to take to salvage?

STAPLES: Well, they should have been in contact initially with Jindo Island, with the BPS system. That's a check in point. It's mandatory.

CUOMO: That's here.

STAPLES: That's who they should have been talking to.

CUOMO: But they weren't. They're talking down there.

STAPLES: And they ended up talking down here.

CUOMO: Is that a material difference, would this place communicate with that place?

STAPLES: No, not necessarily. We've got to look at it like air traffic control. It's very similar to that. So, you know, when they contacted Jindo Island, they probably weren't aware of where the vessel was at that time because it probably weren't looking up in that area. So, he should have been in contact initially with the Jindo Island.

CUOMO: And it doesn't work when you contact these guys, they say, it's not right for us, go back to them?

STAPLES: Well, no. CUOMO: Because it didn't happen in the transcript. But they seem to be competently dealing with it.

STAPLES: Oh, they are, they're very competent. But again, it's -- they're trying to get the situation awareness to where the problem is, what's going on because they're focused with their area. And Jindo is focused with their area. So, he should have initially checked in with them and had been in contact the whole route of going through the passage that he was taking. So, he already should have been in contact with Jindo Island.

CUOMO: So while that is not the best performance, do you still suggest caution at this point before damning the captain and cry as to why this happened and why so many are going to die?

STAPLES: Obviously, it's not just the captain. There's other reasons why this happened. We need to find out why the stability wasn't positive the whole voyage. We need to find out if there was fuel on board, if the vessel was overloaded with cargo, cargo wasn't. So, there are many, many different things we need to be aware. It's not just the captain.

He'd come up -- we don't know if he'd been up all night long, going through fog. If he'd just gone down to his room to relieve himself, we don't know what --

CUOMO: He said he had to go down there to take care of something.

STAPLES: Which could have been possible. The only question I have is that he was in a narrow passage, why would he still leave with a very inexperienced third mate. That's a concern a to me.

CUOMO: Important questions. We hope we get some answers. Captain, thank you for making it more clear for us.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the Bluefin back in the water, but still no trace for Flight 370. Officials say if they don't find anything this week, they'll have to move the search area. So where to next?

Also ahead, a 16-year-old's daring flight -- how did he survive what he says was five hours hidden in the wheel well of an airplane. And what does this is a about airport security?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This morning, we have new information about the flight path of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. A source telling CNN that the plane turned left while within Vietnamese airspace which was not previously thought, then only flew as high as 39,000 feet -- well above the safe heights for the Boeing 777. Yet, more conflicting information. Could any of the investigators' assumptions up until this point had been wrong? Of course, that's what many people are asking. And what does this mean if they're going to have to recalculate the entire search at some point?

Jeff Wise, CNN aviation analyst and the author of "Extreme Fear", is joining us now to discuss.

So, Jeff, let's work through -- we begin this with everyone's working with the only information that's been released publicly. There's a lot that investigators and analysts are working with maybe privately behind closed doors as they well should that they now have released publicly. Let's work through a little bit of what we know.


BOLDUAN: Some of the new information, let's throw up the first animation to talk about this change in altitude and where that key left turn occurred. So, what we're now told by a source is that it went up -- it made the left turn to head back over the Malay Peninsula, well within Vietnamese airspace and it maintained 39,000 feet for 20 minutes before descending. Different than what we have previously been told.

WISE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Why is this significant, when we kind of talk about all of the assumptions that are required to try to figure out where they believe the plane went?

WISE: Right. Once it made a left turn, we ascend into an increasing area of murkiness. And we -- the data that we have becomes uncertain to more or less degrees. Now, we heard earlier in the investigation, it went to 45,000 feet.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right.

WISE: Now, we're hearing 39,000. It seems more plausible. But it's hard to really know this altitude information has been conflicting and frankly, rather unreliable.

BOLDUAN: And I was talking to Mary Schiavo earlier, and she said, it shouldn't be. We shouldn't have this many conflicting bits of information on something like altitude.

WISE: Right. Well, unfortunately, because the transponder was turned off, the only source of information is what's called primary radar -- when the military radar scans up and down and it sees the plane off in the distance and it's just a fundamentally unreliable source of information. I think that's why we're having this problem.

But also, it's hard to know really what to make of it, if it did go to 39,000 feet, what does that tell us?

BOLDUAN: About all of the theories?

WISE: Of all of the theories, to narrow down the realm of possible theories based on that altitude.

BOLDUAN: And that really is, as you describe it, the first chapter of assumptions in this story, if you will, that plays out as it continues on its path, right?

WISE: That's right. I say the first chapter meaning, once -- so, it had turned from it's assigned heading to Beijing. For the next couple of hours, it's still on Malaysian military radar. It's no longer broadcasting its identity. But by, you know, just by where it is and where it should be going, the Malaysian military authorities assume that it's the same plane. And it heads across the peninsula, heads towards the northwest from Penang Island. And after about 200 miles, then it vanishes for good. And where does it go after that? Then it's a real fog of uncertainty.

BOLDUAN: And you say that's what they assume -- and I'm going to work through some of the assumptions -- there are so many assumptions that go into the calculation of where they believe the plane ended up.

WISE: Right.

BOLUDAN: But let's work through some -- some of them. So we were going to throw up an animation of the flight path and where we know. And to look -- first you have the starting point, and that's kind of the turn, right? What are some of the questionable -- what would you say are kind of the beginning the flight path, would you say are some the questionable assumptions that people should be thinking about?

WISE: Well, some people are saying we really know that the Malaysian military authorities are correct in assuming that this anonymous track that heads northwest from Pyongyang is really MH-370.

For the time being, since we have -- if it's not, we really have nothing else to go on. So let's assume that it is. Now, once it disappears from military radar, we only have one source of information as to the fate of this airplane, only one. And that are these pings that the Inmarsat, which is a communications satellite, geo-stationary over the Indian Ocean, every hour or so, on a kind of an irregular basis, it transmitted a handshake request to the plane. The responded automatically with these electronic pings. And the pings had no content to them.

But from the mere fact of how long it took them to get back from the satellite and from the frequency shift that had taken place, we know three things: the time of the transmission; the distance between the satellite and the plane; and the relative velocity of the plane.

BOLDUAN: So you're talking a little bit about -- that's another assumption. We assume that the speed of the plane was going some 450 knots, correct?

WISE: No, that's -- we don't need to make that assumption yet.

BOLDUAN: We don't need to make that assumption.

WISE: No, but -- but from that, we can tell the distance that the plane was at various times. And at 8:11 when the last of these were transmitted, we know that it was on a circle across the surface of the globe. There's like to 3,000 mile from the satellite's ground location point.

BOLDUAN: So if they're off on that distance, then what does that do to where we believe the plane ended up when we're talking about the pings down here?

WISE: Well, the problem is, that -- that this a huge area of earth's surface. It's an entire circle that goes all the way around. And -- now, if you plug into this analysis a speed that the plane was traveling at, that gives us a point on that. Now here's the million dollar question, originally, you remember a long time ago, weeks ago, they started searching a surface of southwest of Perth.


WISE: That was the initial search area, and the prime minister of Australia got in front of parliament and said he was very -- best lead we had so far -- best lead yet.

That was based on a speed assumption of 450 knots more or less. That's why we're looking at that area. They thought, OK, this is the -- this is the speed that a plane would travel at under normal circumstances. So let's assume that it's at on that point on the arc. And then as time went by, they didn't find any search debris. They shifted the search to a more northerly location, that would imply a slower speed, so maybe only 400 knots.

BOLDUAN: So as the assumptions change, it really vastly changes the search area?

WISE: Right.

BOLDUAN: They believe they've got their best lead right now in the search area. And we'll see if they pick anything up because those calculations --

WISE: That seeming -- seeming shakier and shakier by the deck (ph).

BOLDUAN: Jeff Wise, great to see you. Thanks, Jeff.


PEREIRA: All right, thanks so much.

Next up on NEW DAY, a 16-year-old boy apparently hitches a ride from a flight from California to Hawaii. You won't believe how he was traveling, though.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Last night, the Boston Red Sox, boy, they paid tribute to all of those affected by last year's marathon bombings, such an emotional pre-game ceremony.

Let's bring in Joe Carter with this morning's Bleacher Report. It really moved your heart, didn't it?

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Yeah, it was. It was really nice, Chris. I mean, we know how much the Red Sox -- how important of a role that they played in the healing process how important a role that they played in the healing process for the city of Boston. And that ceremony last night really was very moving. It was a magnificent tribute that evoked a combination of both tears and cheers. They honor both the heroes and the survivors while also paying tribute to the lives that were lost.

And as far as the game goes, the Red Sox pulled off a dramatic win. They rallied from five runs down with two outs in the ninth. Dustin Pedroia scored the game-winning a run after the wild throw. What a great end to an amazing night at Fenway Park.

And turning this morning on, the NBA play-offs started this weekend. And of all the games that were played, last night's Rockets/Trail Blazers was the most thrilling. The Blazers were down by 13 in the fourth quarter. They rallied back to force overtime. And that's when Portland's Damian Lillard took over the game. The Trail Blazers steal one from the Rockets, 122-120. Of the eight playoff games that were played this weekend, five road teams won, so not necessarily the higher seeds pulling away with the wins.

Michaela, over to you.

PEREIRA: Now this is the problem. Now I have to stay up and watch the NBA playoffs? I have a job to do here. This is a problem. It's a conundrum.

I want to take you to a story now that's almost too incredible to believe. A lot of us are scratching our heads about this. The FBI is investigating a teen stowaway they say traveled from San Jose, California, to Maui in the landing gear wheel well of a Hawaiian airlines jet. The 16-year-old made that distance despite the lack of oxygen and frigid temperatures at 38,00 feet.

We want to explore the possibilities of surviving something like this with Michael Kay. He's a retired lieutenant colonel with the British military and a CNN aviation analysis. We're all scratching our heads at this.


PEREIRA: Good morning, my dear. Really a pleasure to see you. We thought we'd look at what the wheel well of a landing gear. Now this, we should point out -- this is 737. He was stowed away on a 767. First of all, how similar or how different are they?

KAY: Well, I mean, just in terms of physical size, a 767 is a lot bigger than a 737. So in terms of the actual undercarriage and the size of the undercarriage, the 767 undercarriage is a lot longer than the 737.

PEREIRA: So there's a little bit more room in this wheel well? KAY: I would envision. I mean, I've not actually been inside both but you would envision a bigger aircraft with a bigger compartment will have a bigger compartment to actually put it into, so yeah.

PEREIRA: So we'll talk about how he even got there, cleared security or skipped security to get there. But even being inside this compartment, tell us what all is here, and could he potentially cause damage to the plane just having a human body in that space?

KAY: Well, I think, Michaela, this is an absolutely brilliant picture, and it shows all the complexity and all the intricacies inside the compartment. I mean, you've got hydraulic lines you can see here. You've got all of the electronics. You know, you've got -- you've got potential fluid systems where you've got reservoirs.

I mean, there's a lot going on in here. So anyone climbing up into it, that isn't familiar with, who isn't an engineer, as a stowaway, could potentially be putting their hand on hydraulic line or electrics and really dislodging or causing some sort of damage to the internal mechanisms of the airplane.

PEREIRA: And potentially threatening the lives of passengers on board?

KAY: Yeah, absolutely.

PEREIRA: His goal, obviously, was to run away from home to stow away. He wasn't looking to cause any damage to this plane it sounds like.

So then the other thing is, how about security? I mean this -- I think people on Twister going crazy, like, how -- what about security? How was he able to jump the fence? There's apparently security video of him scaling a fence and climbing up into this.

KAY: Yeah, I mean, this is say huge aspect. Look at MH-370 at the moment. You know, airport security is absolutely vital. And I still think in this day and age, this is a perfect example that there are still holes within security, not necessarily at the major airports like your JFKs your LAXs, but at the smaller airport.

PEREIRA: San Jose an international airport, so one would think --

KAY: It is. It is. And if someone can climb inside here, then someone can put something a little more sinister in there.

PEREIRA: And that's the problem.

KAY: And that's the connection that security officials need to make.

PEREIRA: Let's just talk about just the physical survivability of this. What would any person, this was 16-year-old man who had his health on his side, what would he be up against physically?

KAY: Well, the two "h"s, so hypoxia and hypothermia. I mean, we've talked about the physicalities of getting inside. But the environmental conditions at the altitudes that this young man will have gone to are phenomenal.

So let's look at the two "h"s -- 38,000 feet. The aircraft generally travels between 30,000 and 38,000 feet.

PEREIRA: What happened to the body at 38,000 feet?

KAY: As you go through 10,000 feet, you develop something called hypoxia, which is a starvation of oxygen. So what will happen, is that a starvation of oxygen will occur, and the person will slowly slip into unconsciousness.

PEREIRA: And do you suffocate ultimately?

KAY: Well, you're unconscious at this point. Now, there's something else going on. Because of the altitude, you're at minus 40 degrees C, around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

PEREIRA: You would freeze to death.

KAY: It is freezing, but that has its benefits in terms of what it does, is it preserves the central nervous system. So you've drifted into unconsciousness. You're preserving through a depreciation of temperature in the central nervous system. So you're in state of preservation effectively. Now, that's not going to happen to everyone. He's 16 years old. He's got a strong heart. If you're younger, you're more likely to survive those extremes.

PEREIRA: And at the very least, you would expect that we would have frostbite. He did say he was unconscious for a time. But apparently, he doesn't have any serious medical concerns after this. We're all scratches our heads. Can believe it?

KAY: I can't. And actually, if you go to London there was an Angolan man that was found crumpled on the street. So these situations don't always end successfully.

PEREIRA: They certainly do not.

KAY: And they think the way that happened is, on final approach into Heathrow when the undercarriage deploys, he's obviously been killed at altitude and fallen out onto a crumpled street. And that's kind of the way it's occurred. So as you rightly pointed out, right at the very beginning, this is a staggering tale of survival.

PEREIRA: It really is.

Michael Kay, thanks for walking us through it.

KAY: Good to see you.

PEREIRA: It was good to see you.


CUOMO: We're following an ongoing strike against al Qaeda and Yemen. And we have new information about the ship tragedy. As many as 300 lives could be lost. And the government has been quick to blame the crew. Are they right?

And a Flight 370 investigation seems to be changing its story again. So let's get to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The actions of the captain and crew described as akin to murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those crew members were arrested today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A massive, unprecedented operation targeting al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty militants have been killed. These are joint U.S. and Yemeni-led attacks against al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There have been 21 currently on its ninth mission, with no signs of the plane so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search will always continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eyes of the whole world on Boston for the 118th marathon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready for it.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, April 21st, now 7:00 in the east. And we're learning that the captain of that sunken South Korean ferry is facing five additional charges, including abandoning ship. Now those charges could land him in prison for life.

Meantime, South Korea's president is lashing out a the captain and crew, calling their actions, quote, "akin to murder". The death toll is, of course, rising. Now 65 bodies have been located; 237 are still in all likelihood inside the body of that ship.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Jindo, South Korea. Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we have some very new information into us just the past couple of minutes.