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Bluefin-21 on 10th Underwater Mission; Two More Ferry Crew Members Arrested, Nine in All; Activity Detected at North Korea Nuclear Site; Biden Offers Ukraine Aid, Support; President Obama Heading to Asia

Aired April 22, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome back to NEW DAY once again. It's Tuesday, April 22nd, 8:00 in the East.

Anger and frustration 46 days after Flight 370 disappeared. Overnight, a tropical cyclone forces authorities to call off the air search for the missing plane, but the underwater search continues today as the Bluefin-21 drone makes its tenth mission down to the ocean floor. And with still no sign of the plane, the next step in the search is uncertain.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Perth, Australia, with the very latest -- Erin.


Well, for military planes, four military planes were in the air today despite difficult and possibly hazardous conditions, and while hope may be fading for this part of the search, they're still certainly giving it everything they've got and they're already planning phase two.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): No end in sight as investigators are now only days away from completing the search in the targeted area and still, no sign of Flight 370.

Back in the water this morning, Bluefin-21, after turning up empty scouring two-thirds of the intended seabed so far. The search in the air drastically scaled back due to rain, poor visibility, and heavy seas from Tropical Cyclone Jack, the targeted area six miles in radius.

It represents the best guess as to where the plane may be. If nothing is found, the search area may widen dramatically with more equipment. Investigators say they're in the early stages of talks on long-term search plans, as far out as July.

On Monday, Chinese families of those on board Flight 370 arrived at a Beijing hotel expecting a briefing with technical experts from Malaysia. But that meeting was canceled. The families turned away.

STEVE WANG, FAMILY REPRESENTATIVE: Even small pieces, they haven't found it. So we really doubt the whether it's in the right place or not. We just want to help them check it.


MCLAUGHLIN: Some of the families are saying they're not convinced the Bluefin 21 is looking in the right area. They're saying they have too many lingering questions -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Not helped by the fact they're not getting any answers from the investigators. Erin, thank you very much for the reporting.

So, we know now the two crew members of that South Korean ferry have been arrested, bringing the total to nine, including the captain. Meanwhile, at least 108 bodies have been pulled from the sunken ship. Nearly 200 are still unaccounted for.

Rescuers are not giving up hope some may be found alive.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Jindo, South Korea.

Nic, what's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is still being called a rescue mission, the divers battling tough conditions inside the ship. The pace of recovery, the success, if you will, is picking up. But, of course, anxiety among families waiting for news is also high.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): The arrival of each police boat brings some closure to a few families of the missing. For so many more, the uncertainty continues. The scope of this tragedy becoming more evident with each body brought ashore as authorities here say most of the people they find are still wearing life vests.

The company which operated the ferry posted a public apology on their Web site saying, in part, "We apologize to all the people who are grieving for the loss of their loved ones. We beg for forgiveness from the victims' families and we pray for the dead."

The search for survivors in these waters is dangerous. Low visibility and debris aboard the ship make it nearly impossible to navigate. Divers must first swim down over 100 feet to reach the ship. Then, the difficult task of breaching the wall of the vessel.

Rescuers focus their search on the third and fourth levels inside a lounge and cabin area where they believe most of the students are located. So far, seven crew members in all have been detained, including Captain Lee Joon-Seok featured here in this 2010 safety video. Once touted as face of safety, he is now charged with five counts of criminal activity including abandoning ship, which carries a hefty sentence of life in prison.


ROBERTSON: An outside of courtroom today, four crew members giving their version of some of the events that took place onboard the ship, discussing how the ship began listing, that they were having a problem trying to stop it listing, stop it capsizing. They say that the vessel had a history of this type of problem, and also hearing that when they tried to launch the lifeboats, they wouldn't go. That they couldn't get to them, couldn't operate them -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Still hard to believe how all of that happened in such a short period of time.

Nic, thank you very much. Nic Robertson in South Korea for us with an update.

Also breaking overnight in the region, North Korea stepping up activity at its main nuclear test site and now, South Korea is increasing military preparations in response even as they, of course, continue to cope with that ferry tragedy.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in South Korea with the very latest on this angle of the story. Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the South Korean defense ministry tells CNN basically all North Korea has left to do, to make the political decision. So in practical terms, they are almost ready with a potential fourth nuclear test. They said they have seen stepped up activities in this area, the same area they carried out that nuclear test back in February 2013.

They're not specifically saying what they're seeing, although local media is reporting its increased personnel, increased vehicles. But what we do know is they still have to dig out the entrance to the tunnel of this underground test and then seal it up.

Now, of course, North Korea is very interesting in its timing. We know that the U.S. president, Barack Obama, is heading to Asia. He'll be here in Seoul on Friday, and already the North Korean foreign ministry mentioned his trip saying it is, quote, "a reactionary and dangerous trip."

So, what we are looking at this point, the South Korea military is stepping up preparedness watching around the clock to see if this will happen. Remember, last month, North Korea did say if the U.S. pushed it to, it would carry out a new kind of nuclear test.

Now, experts were assuming that means it would be a uranium one rather than a plutonium one -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Paula Hancocks, with the latest there -- thank you so much.

Let's take a look now at more of your headlines. This morning, Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting with top leaders in Kiev. He's announcing millions of dollars in U.S. aid. He also had strong words for Russia's actions in Crimea.


JOSEPH 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: Pointed words at Russia to be sure.

Let's go to Fred Pleitgen. He's in Kiev, with the latest -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michaela. Of course, the threat of Russia moving into the east of Ukraine something the vice president touched on in that press conference with the prime minister of Ukraine. He said that there would be, quote, "additional costs" to the Russians if in fact they did no de-escalate the situation in the next couple of days. So, they're also putting a very strict time frame on this as well.

At the same time, the U.S. says it wants to support Ukraine in any way it can. Now, there's going to be additional economic aid that America will give to the government here in Kiev, but also there is going to be technical assistance in energy security, because, of course, Ukraine is highly dependent on gas from Russia, and Russia is using that card as a bargaining chip in the standoff it has with Ukraine. The U.S. wants to help Ukraine be less dependent on Russian gas.

At the same time, the vice president also saying that the Ukrainians themselves has to get the rampant corruption in the political system here under control, and he says that especially important is an election that's going to happen on May 25th, Michaela.

PEREIRA: So much at stake. Fred Pleitgen from Kiev, thank you so much.

CNN just obtained new video of that deadly avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 13 people. Look at this. Large clouds of snow tumbling down the mountainside.

Climbers and guides were setting up ropes for the route when suddenly a big piece of ice came off the mountain. This was the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest. Meantime, a French news agency is saying they're canceling the rest of the climbing season in the aftermath of that avalanche.

The Obama administration must release top secret memos justifying the use of drones to kill American citizens abroad. A federal appeals panel issued the ruling Monday in connection with the freedom of information request about the death of Anwar al Awlaki, an American citizen and suspected al Qaeda terrorist killed in Yemen in 2011. It's not clear when that memo could be made public.

Speaking of memos, memos from National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the government spy agencies pulled media leaks. A strict new directive prohibits officials from discussing any intelligence-related matter with the media, whether classified or not, without first clearance from superiors. Anyone violating that policy could be fired or have their security clearance revoked.

Strong words there.

CUOMO: Tough for the media, also.

PEREIRA: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: All right. Speaking of officials, officials say they will not press charges against the California teen who hid in the wheel well of a jet that flew more than five hours to Hawaii. This morning his amazing tale, surviving at 38,000 feet, with little oxygen and horribly frigid temperatures is raising all kinds of questions about his health and the health of airport security.

CNN's Akiko Fujita is in Los Angeles with more -- Akiko.

AKIKO FUJITA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, surveillance video reportedly shows that teenager hopping the fence at San Jose airport the day he boarded the flight. The FBI also says there's video of him walking across the tarmac towards that Hawaiian airlines plane. This morning, that teenager remains in the custody of child protective services in Hawaii with one incredible story to tell.


FUJITA (voice-over): Airport crews in Maui were the first to spot the 16-year-old. His arrival here, the end of a nearly five-hour, 2,300- mile journey across the Pacific in the wheel well of a Boeing 767.

MARVIN MONIZ, MAUI AIRPORT MANAGER: He was weak. He hung from the wheel well and then he fell to the ground and regained some strength and stood up and started walking to the front of the aircraft.

FUJITA: This morning there are new questions about how the teenager managed to go undetected. Airport officials in San Jose say they aren't filing any criminal charges at this time, even though surveillance video reportedly shows him hopping the fence on to the tarmac and walking to the plane.

ROSEMARY BARNES, SPOKESWOMAN, SAN JOSE MINETA INTL AIRPORT: It is possible to scale an airport perimeter fence line especially under cover of darkness.

FUJITA: That was just the beginning. That teen reportedly hid himself in the landing gear compartment after he ran away from home on Sunday with little oxygen and sub-zero temperatures, he flew to an altitude of 38,000 feet.

ROBERT ELDER, AVIATION INSPECTOR: But the only way I can see he got up is -- climb up here.

FUJITA: Aviation Inspector Robert Elder showed us just how difficult this feat is. Climbing into a wheel well less than ten feet across, just inches wide.

ELDER: Once the gear is up, he's got a little bit of a corner where the tires make the circle. He could actually stand on this door and probably maybe stretch a little bit. Remember, above about 14,000 he's going to pass out because he has no oxygen.

FUJITA: Which is exactly what the teen reportedly says happened. Telling airport officials he blacked out after takeoff and didn't regain consciousness until he landed in Hawaii.


FUJITA: Airport officials say the teen just had a comb on him when they saw him. We do know that the crews bought him some lunch, a bag of cookie, because he was so weak. He was sent to the hospital where he was treated and released to Child Protective Services who contacted his family to let them know he's safe -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: The doctors we've spoken to -- thank you, Akiko -- the doctors say the fact he was treated, released, walking around just an hour after he landed, the most remarkable thing about him.

CUOMO: It is amazing. I -- look forward to hearing this kid explain what happened when he was in there.

BOLDUAN: And how he got there and how he decided.

CUOMO: And why he did it.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right, exactly right.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, six weeks since Flight 370 disappeared and still no sign of it. Is the search heading back to square one? Our experts are weighing in.


CUOMO: As you know, the families of 239 people are desperately waiting for any development in the search for Flight 370, 46 days now since the plane has disappeared, and the search has yet to turn up any really concrete evidence about why this happened, or really where the plane is.

So, the families have a list of 26 questions. They gave them to authorities and so far the authorities refused to answer them.

Now, let's discuss this.

We have Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. She also is an attorney and she represents victims and families after airplane disasters.

And we have Miles O'Brien, science correspondent for PBS and also a CNN aviation analyst.

You know how I always say that, let's not judge anything here. I don't want to speculate. Let's test the information that comes up?

Well, that rule's off today, Mary, because I do want to criticize and speculate about what's going on with these Malaysian investigators, because these questions are not complicated. I do not see, as an attorney myself, any infringement of the criminal investigation.

So when you have these people desperate for answers and are happy enough to put out fugazi (ph) altitude numbers that never seem to match up to data, why are they restricting answers from these families?

Mary, you first.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think impartially they don't know some of the answers and aren't willing to say with the investigation ongoing, here's what he know, here's the information. And then, of course, they'd have to hold other agency's feet to the fire to get some of these answers. You'd have to require Malaysian Airlines to provide the information. A couple of them could come from Boeing.

But these are very -- I won't say simple, but very straightforward questions and exactly the kinds of questions that are answered within the first days of an investigation, and made public by American authorities, British authorities, French authorities, as they follow the ICAO investigation guidelines. They're very straightforward.

CUOMO: So, what do you make of it, Miles? You know, I mean, they're asking -- a lot of them like, what's the serial number on the black box? Can we look at the cargo and passenger manifests? I mean, that's not complex.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think it's a volatile mix of a lack of candor, some arrogance and a culture of secrecy. Put it all in one pot and you have families that are just left out in the cold asking really basic questions, which there is no reason to keep from them at this point. If nothing else, show them enough respect and give them a -- a little bit of good faith to give out information which is so basic and -- I will defer to you, counselor -- has nothing to do with the criminal investigation.

CUOMO: I mean, I don't even know what the criminal investigation is at this point, to be honest.

O'BRIEN: Well, that's a good point.

CUOMO: I mean, one of the things I've leaned on Mary so heavily for, for all of the ideas, coming out of investigation. We do not create theories, never have, we don't promote theories on this show, but from the beginning, Mary was saying, there's a good chance it was mechanical, as it was anything.

So, I'm still there. So, I don't know what the basis of criminality is. So, I don't know any basis for secrecy remains here -- Mary.

SCHIAVO: Exactly. And in -- yes. In any criminal investigation what's really amazing now we're seven weeks in, and, for example, comparing it to 9/11, by seven weeks in, we had just an avalanche of leads, tips, witnesses, people coming forward.

You know, I used to be a mob prosecutor. Even people would come forward against the mafia. Here there is nothing.

And so, I think they really don't have anything, but in any criminal investigation, by the time the investigators know it, there's really not a way that telling the families of victims could compromise the investigation, because the criminals already know what they did, if there are any criminals here.

CUOMO: And the sensitivity obviously, miles, is not only am I not going to answer your question, you really need to figure out what you want paid here in your death arrangements and getting those death certificates ready. You know, the families aren't ready for that. There's no reason to push that part of the process. Is there?

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, there's two ways to look at this. First of all, the emotional component of all of this, of course, you know? If nothing else, a body provides some degree of closure in all this, but the flip side of this is that as this rocks on, and it looks like it could go on for quite some time, who knows? They might find somebody today.

But having said that, there are, you know, just basic financial considerations, which the families need to factor in, and I'm sure that's very difficult for them to reconcile those two aspects of this.

CUOMO: You know, Miles, that's a fair point. However, Mary, unless I'm mistaken, I don't know that the Malaysian authorities or the Malaysian Airlines has coughed up any cash to help them sustain themselves during this period, which is often done, right?

SCHIAVO: Right, exactly. And this is the dance that the lawyers for the insurance company for the airlines do in every crash. We have seen this so many times.

You know, first of all, if they wanted to, and they'd save themselves money in the long run. What they should do pay immediately to these families what's called the special drawing rights. It's about $175,000, comparable, and if they would -- they're going to be liable for at least that.

But the insurance companies' lawyers always do this dance and hold it back and say, oh, we want evidence. We don't really know anything yet.

If they would do that they would have such a different outcome to just step up to the plate. They're going to do it in the end, but they're going to drag it out for years in the interim and it happens this way every time. CUOMO: Mary, Miles, I appreciate the perspective. I focused on only this, because to be honest, whether the search will continue, at this point we believe it will. You know, they're in the tenth point of the Bluefin looking around. We don't know if they're going to find anything yet, and there's a cyclone going on. So, the air search isn't going on.

So, there's some stagnation on those levels of the investigation, but what's happening with the families is very much influx and that's why we focused on it today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, five hours in a jet wheel well dealing with subzero temperatures and starved of oxygen. So, how did this teenage boy survive? We're going to talk with an aviation expert about it.


PEREIRA: And welcome back. Time now for the five things you need to know for your new day.

At number one, South Korea says it has detected increased activity at North Korea's nuclear test site. Seoul stepped military preparedness in response.

Two more crew members from the sunken South Korean Perry had been arrested. Now, that makes nine in all, including the ship's captain. At least 108 bodies have been recovered, nearly 200 people still remain missing.

After nine underwater missions, still no sign of Flight 370. A tropical cyclone is forcing authorities to call often the air search, but the underwater search will continue.

Vice President Joe Biden in Kiev announcing millions of dollars in U.S. aid for Ukraine's government. He also warned Russia it will face more sanctions if it doesn't stop steering up troubles in Ukraine's border cities.

And on number five, President Obama heading on a week-long trip to Asia. He has meetings planned in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, on issues including trade and military cooperation.

We always update those five things to know. So, be sure to go to for the very latest -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

How could a teenager survive a flight from California to Hawaii traveling within the wheel well of a Boeing 767? He endured altitudes of above Mount Everest, temperatures lingering in the negative 70, even negative 80s they say is possible.

Joining me now to try to understand this a little bit better, Jeff Price, aviation security expert and a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Jeff, thanks so much for coming in.

There is a healthy amount of skepticism, when you hear this, a story like this. We talked to a doctor who said this really put it under the category of "it's a medical miracle". But every agency involved is taking this very seriously. Kind of from the technical and security side, how is it possible for a teenager to climb into the wheel well of a 767 and survive a trip like this?