Return to Transcripts main page


"Object Of Interest" Found On Australian Coast; Divers Find No Air Pockets On Sunken Ferry; Ukraine Says Easter Truce Is Over; Malaysian Officials Holding News Conference

Aired April 23, 2014 - 06:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: No air pockets. Breaking this morning, divers finding no sign of life in the cafeteria of the South Korean ferry. This amid new questions, why was the first distress call not from a ferry's crew but from a boy on board?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New details on the 15-year-old stowaway who defied airport security. The shocking timeline. He spent nearly seven hours on the tarmac before takeoff. We hear from those who know him.

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

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. Officials in Malaysia will be holding a news conference about the missing plane momentarily. We're going to bring it to you live. The reason, an object of interest. They say it was found not the water or on the bottom of the ocean, but on the shore on the southern coast of Western Australia. Officials qualify it as sufficiently interesting.

So let's get straight to Erin McLaughlin live in Perth, Australia. Erin, what are they saying this object is?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Martin Dolan, the head of Australia's Transportation and SAFETY Bureau telling CNN that this object of interest washed up onshore about 190 miles south of here in Western Australia. He said that the ATSB is currently studying photographs of the object, photographs also have been provided to Malaysian authorities. He described the object as a sheet metal attached to something with rivets.

He also says, it is sufficiently interesting, but he says the more we look at it, the less excited we get and that was a direct quote. The object, we understand, is currently in the custody of police. According to the Australian Maritime and Safety Authority. They are bringing it here to the Joint Agency Coordination Center in Perth for further analysis.

Clearly authorities treating this as they treated every other lead in this investigation. They're taking it seriously. Something that needs either be ruled in or ruled out in the course of this investigation -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Erin, thank you very much. Let's bring in Mary Schiavo. She is obviously a CNN aviation analyst, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mary, help me with this. It's an object of interest. We're going to hold a press conference and scramble the forces out there to look at it. It's a piece of metal with rivets, but the more we look at it, the less interesting we find it. How do you put those two pieces of information together?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: The most important thing I heard is a lot of rivets. On a plane you have millions of rivets, literally. It's a piece of metal with rivets and in the part of the world we expect to find it. It's certainly worthwhile checking it out. They heard there was also fiberglass glued to it. That doesn't make sense, but there are cabin dividers. They don't have a lot of rivets in them.

The rivets are mostly in the fuselage, but certainly I agree with the Australian official who said it is worth checking out by all means. That's how they found clues to the crash of Adam Air in the Java Sea, things washed up on shore. So it's a good lead, go follow it.

CUOMO: So even though if you're not finding things floating. You're not finding a debris field. You've had enough time for the current in this area of Indian Ocean is strong enough to have sent it that distance to shore.

SCHIAVO: Absolutely.

CUOMO: All right, so it's plausible.

SCHIAVO: It's time to look on the shores.

CUOMO: It's plausible.

SCHIAVO: Plausible.

CUOMO: You're making the right point and to follow up, they say it's an object of interest. They also say it's becoming less interesting the more they look at it. They're qualifying it as well. We do know as you say different parts of the hull, different marine equipment is made with metal and fiberglass put to it. It could be anything.

All right, so another thing that's interesting here that they've said, it may take up to two weeks to cover the last 20 percent of the search area. Now, that would be disproportionately long, but is it disproportionate to your understanding of how long it should take?

SCHIAVO: No, because the part that's left, the 20 percent that is left, is much deeper than the other part that they've already searched. It's harder to examine. They might be bringing in some different equipment as well. The Bluefin might not be able to do that so we're looking at perhaps even manned submersibles, but they're looking at different equipment to go down there and get to those depths and finish off that first. It's only the first but finish off the first search area.

CUOMO: We hear the Aussies are thinking about asking for more help. They're entering into an express agreement with Malaysian authorities that does involve, among other things, expanding the search area. What do these developments mean?

SCHIAVO: I think they're good developments. I think the written agreement, a firm commitment, agreement, contract, if you will, between Malaysia and Australia will set a lot of things straight and then actually will empower Australia. So many times you've heard Angus Houston in the press conferences say, well, that's up to the Malaysians. I'll defer to my Malaysian counter parts.

Once they have this contract in place there will be clear lines of authority and Australia will have authority in a lot of things including what to do with the wreckage, recovery of human remains and running things not just on the sea but somewhat on the land. It's a good development. It's good to have an agreement up front speaking of putting my lawyer hat on a minute because once things start happening it's harder to get an agreement.

I think it's a good development. And the expansion means they're there for, I won't saw forever, but they're there for the long haul because otherwise they wouldn't need an agreement. That's good. Good development.

CUOMO: Who is paying?

SCHIAVO: For now, every country that's participating is footing their own bill. Eventually and even Angus Houston said this. He said eventually they might have to have a discussion about some reimbursement or money or the bills, if you will. There is on every major airline flight, there's about a billion dollars insurance on major, not minor, but major airlines have that insurance.

So there should be some talking about some point about tapping or at least asking, they might even have to file suit against them, but asking the insurance policy to cover some of this.

CUOMO: So the Malaysian side of this investigation, they won't answer the 26 questions. They also won't release the Inmarsat data? Why not? Don't we have examples of when you open up this type of information to crowd sourcing, you may get some big brain out there who crunches it a little differently?

SCHIAVO: Not just that. Not just looking for additional insight. Intelligent people around the world and people who might want to volunteer to help, but it is in keeping with ICAO protocols. Releasing the information cannot possibly harmony any criminal investigation. I've read 26 questions.

They are questions that really should be answered within the first few days of an investigation, not first two months. The very basic questions in many cases and so they're the kind of information that in an NTSB investigation would be released in the daily press conference or in the daily briefings with the family. The questions are articulate. They're intelligent. They're right on.

There are things as simple as, you know, serial numbers on the black box or how do they know that the 33.5 hertz on the pingers is actually the 37.5 hertz on the original pingers degraded on the batteries. That's a questions that a lot of us have the frankly, that's information they should already have. If they don't, call in help, more help than even the Australians.

CUOMO: It seems like the kind of help we're going to hear about next will be attorneys. I bet they're going to be filing suit to compel the disclosure of information that's relevant to the families and the data itself. That's what I think is going to happen.

SCHIAVO: Well, yes and no. Sure, there will be suits filed. As you know, to file a suit you're supposed to have, you know, good cause. You're supposed to have a good faith basis. Right now without the -- by the way, one of the things the family asked for were the maintenance records and the plane logs. Those are probably right now the two most important things they could have.

Theoretically you could find information about a possible plane malfunction or broken things in the fix and plane logs and maintenance records. With don't even have those. It's going to be difficult to file a lawsuit against anyone other than Malaysia, against Malaysia Air. And Malaysia air will simply defer to the ongoing investigation when you hit them with requests for production of documents. They'll say, we can't respond because there's an ongoing investigation.

That usually buys them a heck of a lot of time. So we need just a little bit more before I think people can reasonably see real lawsuits. I mean, there might be some that are filed frivolously. But tiny bit more information is needed. A lot more.

SCHIAVO: People have filed for a lot less than what we're dealing with right now, Mary, as we both know. But thank you for the perspective this morning -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: We want to remind viewers we are awaiting a news conference from Malaysian officials. That should be happening we are told in less than 30 minutes and that will be on the latest developments in the search for Flight 370. We will bring that to you live when it comes to us.

But talking about this new information almost coming out this morning about the object of interest. The question is, what does it tell us about a possible crash site, where that object of interest was located?

Let's bring in our Chad Myers who is taking a look at that. This is south of Perth. It's south of Perth about 190 miles -- Chad.


BOLDUAN: What can you glean from that when you're looking at currents?

MYERS: Well, I can glean that this is where we're looking. The underwater search here. Almost 1,000 miles away is what we're talking about the landing site of that. Is that out of the question? No, it is not because that would be 45 days, 24 hours a day, about one mile per hour. That's about what the current would flow. Now, there's something else going on in here as well. An awful lot going on in here. There was a huge cyclone equal to a category 5 hurricane. Now, they spin the other way. So we're spinning this way. Right on top of that site. Not only 40 days ago. Debris there and blown to the south and by the current we know there are currents here, waves 10 to 12 feet, 14 feet under that cyclone. Some will actually come from the west. Go under Australia.

And keep right on going. It's not out of the question that the debris is down here. Got pushed down by the cyclone, caught in the current and ended up on that beach. They haven't found anything else anywhere -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: They say they have to run down every lead. This is an object of interest. It's something worth looking at. It has rivet, some fiberglass coating on it. They're going to track that. That's very interesting to see where the currents work and where it could head. Chad, thanks very much.

We also have breaking news the search for bodies in that South Korean ferry disaster. We are now learning that divers found no air pockets on the ship's third and fourth decks. They had been hoping they would find those air pockets. They had held out hope that with those air pockets they could find some additional survivors.

But the confirmed death toll now rising once again. It's at 150, with 152 people still unaccounted for this morning. There's also new information about what was happening on board when the ferry first ran into trouble. CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Jindo, South Korea, with the very latest -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we have these new details from the rescue effort. We know now, we've been told that a new main rescue ship than brought into place. It is nine times larger than the main rescue vessel in place. Also around ship now surrounded by nets so that bodies, divers cannot get caught in currents and drift away. But today a grim milestone discovery by divers.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): This sunken ferry now lies at the bottom of the yellow sea. Early this morning rescue divers completed their search of the ship's cafeteria where they expected to find many of the passengers. But none were found. Sadly, most of the grim discoveries were made near the students' cabins on the third and fourth levels.

And now divers say they discovered no air pockets meaning this may switch from a rescue to a recovery mission. This is the Sewol crew has come under fire again with new details about the crews conduct. South Korea's Coast Guard told CNN the first emergency call was made by a boy on board, a full three minutes before the crew made their call for help.

Local affiliate JTBC reported his first words to emergency dispatch were, help us, the boat is sinking. Local Korean media report that many other calls for help were made by students on the ship. A fisherman arrived as the ferry was capsizing. He says he saw no bodies in the water and was told everyone was safe, so he left.

He is angry at the captain and says, with so many people on board, no one did anything. Nearly one week later the number of missing declines as the death toll continues to rise. For the families of the hundreds of young lives lost, it is all too much to bear.


ROBERTSON: In the last hour, we've learned another two crew arrested. That is 11 crew total so far arrested. The owners of the ship, their offices, their homes have been searched as well -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Nic, such tragedy coming out of South Korea. Thank you for that latest update.

More breaking news right now. This time out of Ukraine. The interim government says the truce it called for Easter is over. An operations targeting militants in the east will resume. This comes after a surge in violence leading many to believe last week's deal to ease tensions between Ukraine and Russia will amount to nothing.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the very latest for us -- Fred.

CNN FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, it seems that truce called over Easter, Michaela, is an absolute peril at best. The government here saying that truce is over. They are going to relaunch what they call an anti-terror operation in the east, which means that the Ukrainian military will send forces into the east of the country to try and get pro-Russian separatists out of some of those buildings that were being held.

You mention some of the violence that's been going on over Easter. There was a top-level politician found dead in a river in one of the towns held by the Russian separatists. The Ukrainian intelligence service blames Russia and blames those pro-Russian separatists for killing this man and allegedly torturing him as well. The Russians for their part are saying that it was right wing Ukrainians who did it. Also over the weekend, a plane of the Ukrainian air force that was hovering over one of the towns held by the pro-Russians was also shot at, apparently sustained several bullet holes but was able to return to the airport in Kiev.

And so, certainly, right now, what we're seeing escalation rather than de-escalation. As you know, Vice President Biden was here yesterday and said the U.S. was going to help prop up the Ukrainian government but also called on all sides to try and de-escalate the situation. Certainly at this point, we are seeing none of that. In fact, we still have tens of thousands of Russian forces on the eastern border with Ukraine.

Now, the Ukrainian government saying it will take steps to forcefully intervene in this country's east and move those Russians separatists out. That's something that's almost certain to cause trouble.

Chris and Kate, back to you.

CUOMO: So much for the spirit of rebirth and renewal that Easter is supposed to bring as a season.

Our thanks to Fred Pleitgen for that reporting.

BOLDUAN: So much easier said than done and everyone calling for de- escalation but there's just no sign from either side really on the ground in Ukraine that it's happening. No one is backing down.

Let's take another break.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're awaiting still a live news conference from Malaysian officials on the search for Flight 370. We're going to bring it to you live as soon as that begins with all new details.

CUOMO: But first, we do have new details about that 15-year-old stowaway who flew from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of 767. This is an extraordinary journey. A wake-up call to awful for all of our airports. He didn't just hop the fence and get on the plane. He was there for a while. We'll examine it.


CUOMO: We have breaking news. Right now, you're looking at the acting minister of transportation for the Malaysian government and they're starting their press conference about this object of interest found on the shore off Australia's coast.

Let's listen in.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIA ACTING TRANSPORT MINISTER: Today the maritime authority planned visual search area approaching 7,940 square kilometers. The center of the search area lies approximately 1,584 kilometers northwest of Perth. However, planned search has been suspended for today due to poor weather conditions in the search area.

Three aircraft had already departed for today's search area prior to the suspension taking affect. They have been recalled. Current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility and are making air search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous. The ships involved in today's search will continue with their planned activities. Bluefin-21 AUV is currently completing mission ten.

CUOMO: Sound quality isn't great. So just so you understand what's being said right now by the interim minister of transportation, air search suspended because of weather conditions.

There are still ships and they are adding to the number who are searching the water. They are describing the search perimeter right now off the coast of Western Australia.

Let's listen in for more.

HUSSEIN: Which occurred on the 8th of April. On the international investigation team, the cabinet has delivered and approved this morning the appointment of an interim investigation team to investigate the MH370 incident. The Ministry of Transport has been tasked reference for investigation team and as I announce the subcommittee led by the deputy minister of transport has been assigned a task to coordinate the formation of the international investigation team.

On that note, Malaysia is the contracted state and council member of the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, will observe and comply with the standards and recommended practices of ICAO to look into the safety of international civil aviation.

The main purpose of the international investigation team is to evaluate, investigate, and determine the actual cause of the accident so similar accidents can be avoided in the future. I would also like to note that the investigation will not include criminal aspects which are under the purview of the Royal Malaysian Police.

This investigation will be carried out in accordance with the civil aviation regulation 1966 and is set under an expert team, aircraft accident and incident investigation, Chicago convention, which requires each party to investigate accidents independently with four powers in their respective countries. The aviation accident investigation, (INAUDIBLE) was established since December 2011 under the Ministry of Transport would act as the secretariat for this investigation team.

The investigation team will include three groups, an airworthiness group to look at maintenance, records, structures and systems and operational group to examine flight recorders, operations, and meteorology. And thirdly, a medical and human group to investigate issues such as psychology (INAUDIBLE) and survival practice.

We also are discussing to a point experts from other Asean countries in accordance with Asean (INAUDIBLE) and cooperation related to aircraft accident and incident investigation assigned in 2008.

We are in the process of identifying the members and representatives and will be recruiting the members for the team in accordance with international standards. We will announce the names of the members next week.

Indeed, it is imperative for the government to form an independent team of investigators which is not only competent and transparent but also highly credible. As we have said since the beginning, we have nothing to hide.

Let me take this opportunity to update you on the MH192 incident. On the 20th of April, 2015, MH192 bound for Bangor, departed KLA at 10:20 p.m. with 166 people on board, including seven crew members. Upon takeoff the crew reported feeling heavy vibrations. At 10:32 p.m. MH2626 --

CUOMO: So, the only thing of significance that's been said so far in terms of advancing understanding is that the interim minister is giving a little bit of a description about this new team that's being put together to coordinate this investigation. That's been a big concern especially for families about who is doing what and when. There's also been some coordination issues between Australia and Malaysian government.

So, explaining it as being a function of international accepted guidelines for these kinds of searches there's going to be a team that's coordinated panel of people and they will announce the members sometime next week. The minister has now made a detour into another flight that was worthy of discussion by him. We haven't heard anything about this object of interest yet.

We're going to listen back in. If we don't hear anything soon, we're going to other news.

HUSSEIN: At 1:51 a.m., the aircraft approached to make another low flight pass the runway under the observations of MAS representatives. At 1:57 a.m., MH182 landed safely on runway 12.

In the preliminary investigation findings has been identified that number three main wheel burst during takeoff. The aircraft is currently grounded at MAS facility for the inspection and also for repair work. Further investigations by the relevant authorities are still ongoing.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to conclude by stressing we will continue with the search of --

BOLDUAN: Bring back in Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst, also former inspector general at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Mary, obviously, we're dealing with a little poor sound quality and listening to the transport minister, but are you taking anything new from what he's saying? I was a little surprised that right off the top, the transport minister isn't talking about this object of interest.

SCHIAVO: Right. I was surprised, probably because they don't know a lot object it yet and they haven't had the opportunity to examine it. But talking about the new team that they're putting together, I think it's very important and also they're going to have a much bigger team, more defined lines of responsibility.

I would suggest that they consult with the families at some point. They don't have to necessarily put the families on the team. But running at least having a session with them, telling them what's going to happen, and then giving them a copy of the agreement would probably go a long way to help the families understand what's coming and knowing they would then know that they have their best interest at heart.

BOLDUAN: All right. Mary, stand by for one more minute let's get back to the press conference. The transport minister is taking questions now.

(INAUDIBLE) HUSSEIN: Yes, the quotation came from Prime Minister Abbott where we need to regroup and re-strategize but not immediately. We still have the 20 percent area that has to be covered by Bluefin-21 and I can confirm that in fact we are increasing the assets that are available for deep sea search.

I was a bit late today for the P.C. (ph) because I was in consultation with Petronas because that involves commercial ventures. In the next few days, we're talking to other entities to look at possibility of increasing the assets for the next phase.

The timeline I have to discuss with Angus Houston, but it will not be in the next few days. What is more important is that the search continues and this is an assurance that we will give to the families of the passengers.


BOLDAUN: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to have much more of the press conference and all the latest news out of Flight 370 coming up right after this.