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Divers Continue to Search South Korean Ferry; Bluefin-21 Has Almost Completed Search, Finding Nothing; Interview with Capt. Bobbie Scholley; MH370 Families Outraged

Aired April 22, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: How did he do it? He says he hopped a fence at the airport to get to a plane. But how could a teen survive flying from California to Hawaii in a jumbo jet wheel well?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: It's an almost impossible position. Divers swim 100 feet into the icy ocean off South Korea, looking for survivors of that ferry disaster, and once they get there, they can hardly see a thing.

PEREIRA: And is it time to get back to the drawing board in the hunt for Flight 370? The robotic submarine, Bluefin-21, has almost completely scanned the underwater area and still nothing, no trace of that missing jetliner.

BERMAN: Hello, everyone. Great to see you today. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. Good to have you with us.

It's 11:00 a.m. in the East. I almost forgot to --

BERMAN: I'm 11:00 a.m. I'm 5:00 a.m.

PEREIRA: And that means somebody is 8:00 a.m. At least they are in the West.

Those stories and so much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

We are getting some new details aboard the chaotic scene aboard that doomed South Korea ferry from crewmembers who were aboard it as it sank.

BERMAN: Nine people now facing charges in this disaster, including the captain.

Divers are pulling more victims from that submerged boat. One-hundred- and-twenty-one bodies have been recovered so far.

PEREIRA: Our Will Ripley joins us with the very latest from Jindo, South Korea. Good to have you with us, Will.

Tell us more about what these crewmembers are saying. What kind of comments are they making? WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Michaela, they're speaking out for the first time, talking about what happened when the ship actually tilted drastically to the right, saying they believe there might be a stabilization issue with the ship, and also saying it was just possible to reach many of the lifeboats, which is why they were only to deploy -- only able to deploy a couple of them.

I also need to tell you, though, we just within the last few minutes have confirmed some brand-new information. This is from the dive operation happening right now in the Yellow Sea.

Divers, we are told, have successfully reached the cafeteria of the ferry. This is brand-new information. We know that they have been trying now for more than a day to reach this cafeteria on the third floor of this ship.

This is where many of the young people were believed to be at the time of the disaster. Still no word yet on what they are finding in that area.

But again, we know this is expecting to be a pretty crowded room with a lot of people possibly trapped inside, so that's certainly something that we're closely monitoring in the coming minutes.

BERMAN: No doubt this is breaking news delivered right now by Will Ripley. The divers have reached this cafeteria where dozens and dozens of people could -- could -- be.

And, Will, it's been a week now since this tragedy took place. Do you get the sense that divers are still holding out hope of culling survivors? Are they still calling this a rescue mission and not just a recovery effort?

RIPLEY: They are still calling this a rescue mission, and that is significant because every diver that we've spoken to, or at least many, the ones that I personally have spoken to, have said that they believe in their hearts there is still some chance that there might survivors on board the ship.

They're hopeful that perhaps there's some kind of air pocket. There's a theory that somewhere in the ship there's an air pocket where possibly somebody could still be alive.

But you have to think now, with cold water, dark conditions, it's been almost a week now that somebody would have been -- had to have been in there. The chances are very slim, but they're certainly hopeful.

Also, another new detail that we've just confirmed is, in the initial minutes of when this happened, the first 911 call that came from the ship came from a voice described as a boy who was very shaken, saying that the ship was in trouble. He thought the ship was going to sink.

And after that initial call came in, there were about 20 more phone calls to the emergency services from young people, children on board that ship. Many of those children are still among the missing, the missing that those divers are searching for right now. PEREIRA: It's just agonizing, Will, to think of those children being so afraid in that emergency.

Thanks for giving us those breaking bits of information, big developments, certainly.

BERMAN: Divers have reached the cafeteria and that news from Will about the 911 calls coming from the boat. Interesting given the confusion of the official communication between the ship and land.

PEREIRA: How quickly people can pick up their own cell phones and call for help.

Moving to the new developments now in the ongoing hunt for Flight 370, a tropical cyclone called Jack today forced authorities to suspend the air searches, but 10 ships in the area continue to look for floating debris from the plane.

BERMAN: Plus, the submersible drone, the Bluefin-21, is continuing its underwater searches. The device right now is conducting its tenth mission to find wreckage. The first nine turned up nothing.

Our Erin McLaughlin joins us now from Perth, Australia. And, Erin, you know, the Bluefin-21, we're told, is close to completing this search now undersea at least in this initial area. So what's next?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Michaela.

A U.S. Navy spokesperson telling CNN that the stakeholders in all of this are currently in the early stages of discussing possible next steps. Things that have been talked about -- possibly broadening out the search area, maybe introducing more underwater submersibles into the mix.

What they're doing right now is they're searching a six-mile radius around the second ping that was detected on April 8th. It was the strongest of the four signals that was picked up by the American- operated towed pinger locator.

And some analysts have said, well, perhaps maybe they should search in the area of the other three pings as well, one of the many things being discussed, but at this point, the focus very much on the task at hand.

As you said, the Bluefin-21, still in the water as far as we know, still searching for any signs of the black box. As of yesterday, it had two-thirds of that area completely covered, another third to go, so that portion of the mission could wrap up in the next few days.

But officials here still saying that based on their information, they believe that is the most likely place that they're going to find the black box. They want to either be able to rule it in or rule it out.

But plans for the next phase are under way, that U.S. Navy spokesperson telling us that they're planning for as far out as July.

John and Michaela?

PEREIRA: And it's amazing to think about that, planning as far out as July, Erin.

We know that all of this costs money, and that's certainly something they're taking into consideration.

MCLAUGHLIN: That's absolutely a consideration in all of this, but at the moment, those involved in the search very much focused on the task at hand, given that this current debris search, the aerial search for debris, still under way, as well as this underwater search.

It's a multinational effort, eight countries taking part and eight countries, so far. splitting the bill. If that should continue into the future, well, again, that must be one of the topics currently up for discussion.

Michaela and John?

PEREIRA: All right. Erin McLaughlin, thanks so much, the latest from Perth on the flight for -- the search for Flight 370.

BERMAN: And, again, not a shred of debris either on or below the water at this point.

Other headlines making news @ THIS HOUR, the death-defying flight from California to Hawaii, a teenager says he hid in the wheel well of a jumbo jet, and this is raising concerns now about airport security.

The TSA is investigating how the 16-year-old scaled a fence at the San Jose airport without anyone noticing. He told authorities he had run away from home in Santa Clara. Now he's in the care of child welfare services.

Later this hour, we'll show you how he could have entered the plane and survived this five-hour flight in the wheel well.

PEREIRA: Yeah, a lot of people are scratching their heads about how that's possible. Quite a miracle of it was the case.

Just a short time ago, the U.S. Supreme Court uphold a controversial Michigan law that bans the use of racial criteria in college admissions. The vote was six to two. This was a law Michigan voters approved eight years ago.

Officials at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have criticized the ban. They say it makes it tough to have a diverse student body.

BERMAN: (Inaudible) Stephen Breyer voted with the majority there.

Vice President Joe Biden is in Kiev offering support to Ukraine's government. He announced millions of dollars in U.S. aid and promised the prime minister that Washington has Ukraine's back.

The vice president also had strong words for Russia.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No nation has the right to simply grab land from another nation. No nation has that right.

And we will never recognize Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea. And neither will the world.


PEREIRA: Very pointed words to Russia.

There are reports that pro-Russian militants have seized another police station. Ukrainian officials say new pictures show Russian forces trying to provoke trouble in eastern Ukraine.

President Obama is headed to Washington state @ THIS HOUR. He's going to meet with the families of those killed a month ago today in that massive landslide.

The bodies of 41 people have been recovered.

Now, we also know that he'll meet with the emergency workers. Those workers worked endlessly to dig through the toxic debris, some 70-feet thick in some places, looking for the missing.

The president will then head across the Pacific to visit four Asian nations.

BERMAN: A small-town Texas church deacon turns out to be a suspected murderer who eluded police for 33 years.

Seventy-eight-year-old Joseph Lewis Miller was living under and alias in Mineola, Texas. Police arrested him yesterday under the name Roy Eugene Eubanks.

He'd been a leader in his church and receiving Social Security disability benefits for more than 20 years.

PEREIRA: Essentially living in plain sight, really.

The short climbing season on Mount Everest could be in jeopardy. That's because hundreds of native Sherpa guides who helped their clients reach the summit, they're threatening going on strike following that avalanche last week.

In that avalanche, 13 Sherpas were killed. Three are missing and are presumed dead. They were preparing the route to the summit when a wall of snow and ice came crashing down.

The Sherpa community is upset with a Nepali government plan to compensate the victim's families. The compensation comes out to about $400 per person.


PEREIRA: We're going to talk more about Sherpas and their critical role in the world's tallest mountain, later @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: Yeah, such fascinating roles and such interesting levels of compensation, there. A lot to talk about there.

Coming up for us, divers can't see their hands in front of their faces, but they do continue to search for the victims of the ferry crash in South Korea.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, we'll speak with a diver about these dangerous conditions.

PEREIRA: Also, a 16-year-old says he flew from California to Hawaii by getting into the jet's wheel well.

How did he survive? We're going to examine how it's possible, ahead @ THIS HOUR.


PEREIRA: In South Korea, there are so many family whose lives have been simply devastated by the loss of their children in that ferry disaster. I think it's hard for us to imagine what they're going through.

BERMAN: Yeah, our next guest knows what it's like to be in the middle of a tragedy like this one.

Bobbie Scholley is a retired Navy captain and diver. She led a small team of elite group of divers who helped recover missing and dead sailors after the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole, 14 years ago.

Bobbie, we should tell you we just got word a couple of minutes ago that divers have now reached the cafeteria of this ferry. This is the room where many children are believed to have been when that boat sank.

So, my question to you is this. When you're a diver and when you're entering a situation like this, Lord know what they're going to see in that cafeteria.

How do you separate the tragedy from your job?

CAPT. BOBBIE SCHOLLEY (RET.): Well, hello, John and Michaela, as a mother of elementary school aged children I can't imagine what the parents are going through right now. My heart goes out to them. As a retired Navy diver who has been on operations very similar to this. I know exactly what the divers are going through right now.

They're going through a whole variety of emotions. They are out there working so hard because they are trying to get this mission done. They are trying to bring back those victims. Those children and other passengers. So that this -- these families can have just a tiny bit of relief. They'd love to bring back survivors. They would just love for a miracle to happen. But barring that, they want to bring back these victims to the families to give them just a tiny bit. And they're trying not to think about that because they want to work so hard to get the mission done any way that they possibly can and they're doing a fabulous job.

PEREIRA: They are doing a fabulous job and I think we need to pause it and understand also that it's a dangerous job that they're doing. I want to talk to you a little bit about the training. We know that Navy divers are part of many missions. Some of them are not this kind of recovery mission. What kind of training are divers given to deal with some of this emotional trauma that they might be experiencing when they're doing a salvage operation like this.

SCHOLLEY: We have a very robust training program. And I -- I'm pretty sure that the Korean Navy is the same. As a matter of fact, I've seen many Korean divers who have come through an exchange program where they train with our divers as well. They've had several of them come through our Navy dive school in Panama city, Florida. I've seen a couple officers who came through the same time I went through Navy dive school so their training is very similar.

We train with the highest level of safety involved in every one of our missions. We have safety measures that go above and beyond what most civilian programs have. Because we are always exposed to dangerous environments, whether it be danger due to enemy conditions or dangers due to the environmental conditions. We stress safety above everything else.

And so, the operation that's going on right now has all of these safety conditions in mind. So some of the theories that we maybe discuss on the news or other people discuss on the news about maybe they should have done this or maybe they should have done that might not be taking into consideration all these safety requirements that diving and salvage takes into consideration. Even though they want to do everything possible to get those victims out.

BERMAN: Bobbie Scholley, great to have your expertise here. It's such a heroic, important job and a tragic one at the same time.

PEREIRA: And how hard it must be for the divers.

BERMAN: And they have to be feeling it every minute.

PEREIRA: Especially with kids involved.

BERMAN: Thanks Bobbie. Ahead for us at this hour -


SARAH BAJC, FLIGHT MH370 FAMILY MEMBER: Still trying put our family members in coffins again. I mean there's not the slightest bit of evidence that this flight has even crashed.


BERMAN: Right there. The families of flight 370 demand answers when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: The families of those missing on flight 370, they cry, they curse, they even beg for answers. They'd gone for what was supposed to be a meeting with Malaysian technical experts but the families got nothing. Not a thing from this meeting. It was canceled.

PEREIRA: Add into that outrage because today the families are scheduled to meet with Malaysian airlines and government officials, guess what, no meeting. The partner of American Philip Woods spoke to NEW DAY about the desperate need for answers.


BAJC: They are trying to put our family members in coffins again. I mean, there's not the slightest bit of evidence that this flight has even crashed. There's no wreckage. There's no sightings. There's nothing at all that can be deemed to be actual fact. It's only conjecture at this point. And so that's why the family members are trying to go back to square one, to day one, and we want the Malaysian government to open up the data which should have been opened up within days of the investigation starting to a third party, independent, yet still confidential group who's qualified to assess the data.


BERMAN: You heard it right there, what the families want is they want access to the raw data. All of it that they can get their hands on from flight 370. We want to bring in our aviation expert Mary Schiavo. Mary, we lean on you so much for this type of information. Thanks for being here. The families are asking for information. They're asking for the data at this point, is there any reason not to give it to them?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Absolutely not. I've reviewed all the 26 questions. They're very thoughtful. They're extremely intelligent, they're right on point. And there's nothing in those questions -- in the answers to those questions that could harm any criminal investigation if they have one ongoing. Very good questions. They deserves those answers.

PEREIRA: These people are feeling so helpless. We're looking at them on the screen, the emotional outbursts and reactions, they are grieving. The emotion is raw. Do they have any recourse at this point? Is there any help to be found for them, Mary?

SCHIAVO: It's really tough, so many of the rights that we're used to in this country and great Britain and Australia, you know, the aviation nations, come from laws that were passed from years ago, in some cases by families, witness protection laws, victim protection laws and family assistance acts and those don't exist in Malaysia. China has one but it's not like ours, so but they don't have rights, that's why they're forming their own committees, looking for legal help, demanding answers. Because really, that's what they've been reduced to. The government is not helping them to get the answers.

BERMAN: Mary, you've been through investigations like this before I think it's confounding to all of us how can officials from Malaysia and Malaysia airlines keep get into these situations where is meetings are canceled. Equipment doesn't work. The families don't get the simplest things that they're asking for here. It seems basic, not just in terms of pr but the relationship with people that is so crucial right now.

SCHIAVO: Exactly, it's the yin and the yang and the promises and broken promises to schedule the meetings. This isn't the first time this has happened. And then to cancel them and, to be not prepared for them, or to have them not show up, or not have the ability to deliver information is very -- damaging. The relationship is completely broken, I believe. I don't think the families will ever trust them and will have repercussions on their investigation. They will have to turn over additional parts of this investigation to other countries such as Australia because they have no credibility with the families. And it's the families that matter.

PEREIRA: You've made a very good point because we've already heard from so many of the people we already spoke to, Steve Chang who said he has no faith in the Malaysian government. He doesn't trust them. Some of them are saying conspiracy theory-type phraseology. It's understandable why they have lost trust in authorities there. Mary Schiavo, always a pleasure to have you. Thanks for letting us lean on you again.

BERMAN: It's going to have financial implications at some point to because there will be lawsuits. They are going to be sued in some cases --

PEREIRA: Oh Goodness. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, this is a mystery, a teen from California said he flew from San Jose California all the way to Hawaii by hiding in the plane's wheel well. We want to know how it's possible. We are going to take a look at the very place where he says he hitched a ride.