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EARLY START

Reevaluating the Search for Flight 370; Ferry Death Toll Rising; North Korea Nuclear Worries; Biden in Ukraine

Aired April 22, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Anger, frustration 46 days after Flight 370 disappeared. This morning, part of the search has been suspended, after nine missions under water have turned up nothing. We're live with the latest on the search and what the families are saying this morning.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly a week after a ferry capsized, hope for survivors beginning to fade. Divers are searching the ship for the nearly 200 still missing, as the ship's operator apologizes and asks for forgiveness. We're live on the coast with the very latest.

BERMAN: A new possible provocation from North Korea. New signs this morning that the country is testing its nuclear capabilities on the eve of President Obama's visit to Asia.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman. Good to see you this morning.

KOSIK: And I'm Alison Kosik. It's the half past the hour, and we begin with the first sign that authorities may be re-evaluating the search for Flight 370. Overnight, a tropical cyclone forced officials to call off the air search, but the underwater search continues, despite growing concern the hunt for Flight 370 may be headed back to square one.

Erin McLaughlin live from Perth, Australia this morning.

Erin, at this point, they're into their ninth, tenth investigation in the water, and it's turned up nothing. Where do they go next?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alison. Well, officials have been discussing sort of a long-term search plan. A U.S. Navy official telling CNN that they're talking about the possibility of a long-term search, in the early stages of planning through July, but all eyes still focused on that Bluefin-21. As far as we know, it's still in the water on that tenth dive, and it's in a really critical point in this mission, because this is the place where they feel the most likely area where they're going to find the black box based on a limited set of information or data that they have.

Now, as of yesterday, it was two-thirds of the way finished searching this area, and officials here in Australia say that it could be complete in just a few days. And at that point, they say they're going to stop and reassess and probably broaden out the search area -- Alison.

KOSIK: And when they broaden out that search area, what have they got to go on at this point that they maybe didn't have before? Is there any new information coming in?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, no new information right now. Right now, they're searching based on the best information they say they have. They're looking at the area of the second ping that was picked up by that towed pinger locator. They're searching in a 6-mile radius around that point. Now once that's exhausted, which again Australian officials say could happen in the next few days, they may potentially, some analysts say, turn to some of the other points where they picked up those signals.

There were three other detections made. They might just broaden out the area in general, possibly along that arc, the half handshake, the so-called half handshake between the Inmarsat satellite and the plane before it went down. They might search that entire area. And Malaysian officials talking about them introducing or exploring the possibility of introducing even more submersibles, because the more submersibles they can introduce, the larger the area in which they can search and the quicker they could potentially find any wreckage -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Erin McLaughlin live from Perth, Australia.

BERMAN: Thirty-two minutes after the hour. A heartbreaking scene in South Korea this morning. The death toll from the tragic ferry disaster rising to 108. 194 others are still listed as missing. Divers pulling one lifeless body after another from the water, from the sunken ship while devastated families just look on.

Our Nic Robertson live from Jindo in South Korea this morning.

And, Nic, it has been a very, very grim morning there, indeed.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has. It really has. And you can tell that just from sort of the pace at which the bodies are being brought ashore. It really has picked up today. Police marine ship after police marine ship pulling into the harbor side, unloading the bodies. They're going into a temporary, tented, white mortuary on the harbor side.

And then what we saw were ambulances backing up to the mortuary tent, one, two, three, four at a time, then very slowly, very solemnly, in a very dignified way, stretcher-bearers carrying out each of those bodies, one body into each ambulance. The ambulance is driven away. Then more ambulances driven in to take their place to take away more bodies. So for the families, a very tough day.

For a few families, the events today, the recovery of the bodies may provide the answers that they want, but for so many more families, it's really, really a matter of waiting for the divers who are still aboard the ship. A very, very difficult wait there, down at the third and fourth level aboard the ship working in very difficult conditions, visibility poor. And the tides today slightly slacker, but they're facing debris inside that ship that's blocking their way.

So very, very slow, painstaking process aboard the ship and very, very difficult for the families to watch all this unfolding -- John.

BERMAN: Nic, what's the status of the investigation right now, particularly concerning the captain and the crew of this vessel?

ROBERTSON: Well, we know that seven crew members, including the captain, who have been charged, the captain potentially could face life in prison for abandoning the ship. We have heard from some of the senior crew members, two 1st officers, a chief engineer and one of the 2nd officers was speaking outside a courtroom as they were charged today, describing how this ship had a history of not being able to right itself very easily or very well.

They also described how the ship had gone through some extensions. They were asked whether these were legal. The crews said that they didn't know, but the underlying theme of what they were saying was that this ship had problems, and they said when they were steering it on Wednesday, when it -- when it capsized, that it turned very quickly. No explanation for this so far.

And out at sea, the divers focusing on the rescue, rather than investigating the ship to see what they can discover that might lead to a better understanding of what happened. At sea, the focus very much the rescue, but on land, we're beginning to learn those details from those senior crew members -- John.

BERMAN: Our Nic Robertson in Jindo, South Korea this morning. Thanks so much, Nic.

KOSIK: Meantime, there are new worries this morning that North Korea could be closer to conducting a nuclear test.

Let's get to Andrew Salmon, who's live in Seoul.

So let me ask you this. The timing of this, this possible movement from North Korea, kind of curious.

ANDREW SALMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kind of curious, you're right. What we can say is it's still spring here on the Korean Peninsula. Always a tense time. This is when the South Koreans and the U.S. carry out their joint maneuvers. Two main exercises are finished, but even today and right through Friday, there is the largest ever air defense exercises with aircraft from both the U.S. and South Korea drilling in the skies above the peninsula.

So the North Koreans are extremely sensitive to this, and we've seen on North Korean news today Kim Jong-Un himself visiting a North Korean air unit and encouraging them to be prepared to defend their country. But of course, also in even bigger news, U.S. President Barack Obama will be traveling through the region. He's arriving in South Korea on Friday, leaving Saturday.

And the North Korean Foreign Ministry have been berating this trip using a lot of rhetoric, including saying this will bring dark clouds of a nuclear arms race to the region. A lot of doomsday rhetoric. But whether, of course, they're prepared to detonate a nuclear device in an underground test site in North Korea while the president is actually in or on the ground, that would be even by North Korean standards an extraordinary provocation.

KOSIK: OK, Andrew Salmon live from Seoul, thanks.

And as Andrew said, the latest possible provocation from North Korea comes as President Obama is set to visit the region, leaving today for a trip that will take him to Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea. But he'll stop first in Washington state to meet with families impacted by a deadly mudslide northeast of Seattle. The death toll in that slide now stands at 41.

BERMAN: About 37 minutes after the hour right now.

Chad Myers here, bravely entering the studio, despite the allergies trying to hold him back.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: : Yes, I can see it in the air. Literally, you can see the dust flying around, but it's going to get better today because there's rain on the way. There is rain in Buffalo already, moving to Pittsburgh, all the way down to Atlanta. So if you're suffering out there, it does get better, at least some of the pollen gets washed away. A beautiful day in the city today, high of 70. 77 in D.C., 74 in Atlanta.

A pretty decent day to fly up and down the East Coast. It will get bumpy later today, probably around 6:00 or 7:00. Could see some bumps up and down the East Coast. Now, it will be bumpy all day in the west. There's just going to be major, just huge turbulence out here, so expect that if you're flying over the Rockies.

High wind warnings for the desert southwest. Could be 60 to 70-mile- per-hour winds there and dust in the air. That storm moves to the east for tomorrow, making some severe weather across the Midwest, from Nebraska all the way down to Texas.

Talked about Jack here. Jack kind of hindering the surface search yesterday. At 35 miles per hour right now. Yesterday at this time, though, it was 85, so this storm is dying.

BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers. Thanks so much for a look of the weather, here and off the coast of Australia as well.

KOSIK: And this morning, the U.S. is promising more support to Ukraine. Vice President Biden is in Kiev for critical meetings with the interim government, but will it be enough to sway tensions with Russia? We're live with the latest. Next.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. At this moment, Vice President Biden is meeting with Ukraine's top leaders in Kiev. It's a show of support for that country's embattled interim government. But in the eastern part of Ukraine, pro-Russian gunmen not letting up one bit, seizing more government buildings in a dozen cities and towns.

Want to bring in Fred Pleitgen right now live from Kiev.

Fred, give us an update on the goal of these meetings amidst this chaos, really, still in the eastern part of the country.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think chaos is exactly the right word. One of the things that, of course, these two sides are going to be talking about, the top-level of Ukrainian politicians as well as Joe Biden is going to be that situation in the east of the country. And apparently, what the acting president of Ukraine told the vice president was that he believes that the Russians have already breached that Geneva agreement that was reached between the U.S., the EU, Russia, as well as Ukraine last week. And they say that because these pro-Russian separatist groups have taken additional buildings instead of vacating all the buildings that they could and disarming, they feel the agreement's been breached, and the Ukrainians for their part are saying they will react accordingly.

So certainly a very volatile situation that the vice president has landed into. He's walking a very fine line diplomatically, where on the one hand, the U.S., as you know, has threatened additional sanctions against Moscow if it doesn't de-escalate in the coming days. But of course, the U.S. always wants to keep those diplomatic channels with Moscow open. At the same time, the U.S. wants to prop up the government here in Kiev.

Several things that we expect to hear out of a press conference that was supposed to start a couple of minutes ago. We're now hearing that they're actually running quite late -- is that the U.S. wants to offer economic assistance, technical assistance and help Ukraine, and this is probably the most important point. Help Ukraine achieve energy security, because they are very dependent on Russian gas, and that's certainly something that the Russians have been using as a weapon in this standoff that they have with Ukraine -- John.

BERMAN: Fred, I want to talk about the pro-Russian militants right now in the eastern part of Ukraine who have taken over these government buildings. They have shown to be very unresponsive to both the Ukrainian government and to the United States as well.

Has Russia, has Moscow, has Vladimir Putin shown any inclination right now to get those pro-Russian militants to move?

PLEITGEN: Zero at this point. In fact, one of the things that we seem to see is that on the one hand, those pro-Russian militants are saying that they don't feel bound by that agreement that was reached. They say it was not signed on their behalf. In fact, they're calling for the government here in Kiev to resign before they will lay down their weapons. And the Russians for their part seem to have a completely different interpretation of that agreement than the West does, that the U.S. does.

The U.S. say they have to get out of those buildings immediately. The Russians say that if those the pro-Russian protesters are supposed to vacate those buildings in the east of the country, they want the square that's behind me, the Maidan, where of course, the revolution took place a couple of months ago, they want that square to be cleared as well.

The Russians are also saying that Ukrainian groups who have taken up arms need to lay down those arms before the pro-Russian protesters are set to do that. So there is still a lot of disagreement between the U.S. and Russia.

There was a phone call last night between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, and quite frankly, that did not lead to very much. So the two sides still very far apart and there really isn't any sign, especially in the east of this country, that there's any de-escalation. And the U.S. know that any de-escalation has to come from Moscow and be initiated by Moscow -- John.

BERMAN: A rather ominous words from our Fred Pleitgen in Kiev, who says there's been zero movement now towards any kind of diplomatic solution in the eastern part of that country.

Fred, thank you very much.

KOSIK: And whether Vice President Biden can even make any headway.

BERMAN: Exactly. What's to do ? He's there, but what can he produce while he is there?

KOSIK: Exactly.

All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY," Kate Bolduan joins us now.

Good morning, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Good morning both of you. We're tracking the latest of course on the search for Flight 370. The underwater sub, that Bluefin-21 is back in the water scanning the ocean floor but so far has yet to turn up any sign of the missing plane. If the Bluefin's search doesn't yield any results, the big question is, what happens next? They are going to start that conversation, they say, and how to plan for a long-term search and what that would mean for all of the resources at hand.

We're also going to be live on the ground in South Korea, where the death toll is rising again this morning in that deadly ferry accident. The disaster raises really new worries this morning about passenger ferries worldwide, including here in the United States. Are they regulated enough to keep travelers safe? Our maritime experts are going to be weighing in, something probably everyone should listen to, unfortunately -- John and Alison.

BERMAN: All right. Look forward to seeing that, despite the tone, I think.

Kate, great to see you this morning.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: We'll be tuning in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, 46 minutes after the hour, he is lucky to be alive. A 16- year-old stowaway who hid inside a wheel well on a flight from California to Hawaii. This morning, we're taking a closer look at how he survived being 38,000 feet up in the air. That's coming up next.

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BERMAN: No charges this morning for a 16-year-old from California who hopped a jet from California to Hawaii, riding in the 767's wheel well alongside the landing gear. Doctors are calling it a medical miracle, since in past cases, people who tried hiding in these wheel wells have died of hypothermia or oxygen deprivation, or they've just fallen out of the jet. But this 16-year-old somehow emerged unharmed, perhaps in a way thanks to the cold temperatures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BEN HONIGMAN, ALTITUDE RESEARCH CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: He probably became unconscious rather quickly at that elevation. And perhaps with the cold, and if it was in the range of zero to perhaps 30 degrees, then perhaps he went into what we call this slowing down of the machinery state or hibernation that might have protected him and caused him not to need as much oxygen as normally we would if we were exerting ourselves or even sitting here on TV.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Breaking into the airport, of course hiding in that plane, against the law, but police in San Jose say the boy will not face charges. Investigators are still trying to find out how he managed to slip past security there.

KOSIK: This morning tests are under way to figure out just who was killed in what officials call an unprecedented operation in Yemen, targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Some 65 suspected militants were targeted, but it's not clear yet if any top-level operatives were killed. A Yemeni official tells CNN that the operation is a joint effort with the U.S., which blames al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for a string of recent plots.

BERMAN: This morning officials in Salt Lake City still trying to figure out what caused a man to charge a witness inside a federal courtroom. A U.S. Marshal fatally shot Siale Angilau, a reputed gang member, when he reportedly grabbed a pen and charged at the witness, who was testifying about gang life. Angilau was facing racketeering charges. He was shot multiple times and died at the hospital. The judge has declared a mistrial.

KOSIK: We could soon find out more about the Obama administration's legal reasoning for killing an American citizen overseas. A federal appeals court has told the Justice Department to release key parts of a classified memo used to justify the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Intelligence officials say he was a member of al Qaeda and killed him in a 2011 targeted strike in Yemen.

The judges said the administration could no longer claim privacy since it has talked openly about the killing and even issued a white paper defending the attack. It's unclear when or if the memo may be made public.

BERMAN: Two planned executions in Oklahoma now on hold after the state Supreme Court stepped in to a battle over the source of the state's lethal injection drugs. The inmates, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, challenged the constitutionality of a law allowing the state to keep the source of those drugs secret. Both men have been convicted of rape and murder, and the state says they will die. It's just a matter of how and when.

KOSIK: A federal appeals court has now been asked to weigh in on the legality of the FAA's ban on private drones. A Texas-based group that searches for missing people wants the right to use unmanned aircraft in its searches, saying the FAA has no authority to ban them. An administrative law judge ruled last month that the agency couldn't find a videographer for using a drone because it was essentially a model airplane. The FAA is appealing that ruling.

Coming up, did big tech firms conspire to control each other's hiring practices? We're going to have details of new e-mails, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Some biz news for you this morning. European stocks are trading higher right now. Futures in the U.S. are mostly flat.

One story everyone in Silicon Valley is watching closely, the alleged hiring conspiracy among big tech firms. A class-action lawsuit accuses a handle of big-name tech firms, including Google, Apple and Intel of agreeing not to poach each other's employees as a way of keeping those employees' salaries low.

What's more, the suit names Steve Jobs as the ringleader of all this. There are new documents that were just revealed that show Jobs e- mailing Google chairman Eric Schmidt after a Google recruiter contacted an Apple employee. Jobs wrote, "I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this." The Google recruiter was fired. Other e-mails show executives trying to convince Facebook to join the scheme. The case is set to go to trial in May.

And what's interesting with this case, a lot of it's going to be based on actual e-mails from these top executives, like Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt and, you know, the Intel executives, all their e-mails going back and forth, with the smiley faces and everything.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Really intrigue there at that very high level.

KOSIK: Yes.

BERMAN: At that very high levels of Silicon Valley. KOSIK: All to keep those salaries depressed. And tech workers saying, wait a minute, we're owed more. And, you know, it kind of even underscores how tough it is to find top talent for these companies and how competitive these companies are.

BERMAN: Any sense that they might settle before going to the full trial?

KOSIK: That's a good question. We'll see what happens.

BERMAN: All right. That is all for us this morning. Great to have you with us. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, part of the search for missing Flight 370 has been suspended as the temp underwater mission is under way with the clock ticking and still no sign of the missing plane. Are they close to calling off the search?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking over night. New signs North Korea is testing its nuclear capability. Is the reclusive regime planning to launch a nuclear test? All of this happening on the eve of President Obama's trip to the region.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Security breach. How did this teenager get by security, hide inside a plane's wheel well on a five-hour flight to Hawaii and survive? This morning an airport is facing serious questions as doctors say it's amazing he's alive.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.