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"Object of Interest" Found; No Air Pockets Found in Capsized Ferry; Ukraine Says Easter Truce is Over; Obama Begins Week-Long Asian Tour

Aired April 23, 2014 - 08:00   ET


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He says the ATSB is still in the process of analyzing these photos. He described it as a metal object with rivets. A source inside the Australian defense force telling CNN it appears to have a Plexiglas coating.

Now, Dolan went on to say that while this item is of sufficient interest, he says the more they look at these photographs, the less excited they're getting. He says these photos have been given to Malaysian authorities for analysis.

Now, earlier today, we heard from the Malaysia's acting transportation minister who says he is aware of the reports but has yet to see the photos. He gives us an update as well during that press conference on the activities of the Bluefin-21, saying that as of this morning, the tenth dive had been completed with no objects of interest found in that underwater search.

Back to you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Erin, thank you very much.

Joining us now to break down the latest is Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst, former inspector general of Department of Transportation, and Mr. David Soucie, also CNN safety analysts, and author of "Why Planes Crash".

Let's qualify the reporting, Mary. It is frustrating that in this last search area, the 20 percent is going to take so long. But as you told me earlier and bears repeating, this is the toughest area to search because --

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Because it's deeper than the other part they've already searched. In many cases maybe a mile deeper. It got to go deeper than the Bluefin-21 can reasonably expect to do it.

So, they've got to bring in heavier equipment, different equipment and they'll have to get it from other places, probably from the United States. They've got to do retooling and go deeper.

CUOMO: David, in terms of the frustration with progress, is it just unreasonable to expect an answer and something that is so difficult when they're working off such thin data?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: You know, it really is at this stage. Right now, as Mary mentioned, too, it's no coincidence there's 20 percent left and yet 20 percent of the area is beyond the capability of the Bluefin. So, that is probably the most likely area. It's directly below where the two-mile pings were coming from.

So, you know, I think that at this point, to expect the information to come from the Bluefin is unreasonable. But why there isn't other information or why there is another equipment out there already, that bears some questioning.

CUOMO: Well, we do understand that the Aussies are asking for more equipment. Maybe that's what they're doing, adapting to new conditions and the new constraints. We'll have to get more information on that.

Mary, what we know enough to talk about already, at the presser, the Malaysian interim minister of transportation who has been running things says, yes, I can't talk about this object of interest, I haven't gotten pictures yet, because that would take all of about three minutes with an e-mail with a picture of the debris itself. What's going on here?

SCHIAVO: Well, it is surprising that they haven't looked at it and poured over it. I mean, all of us were so incredibly fascinated. But, you know, it has hallmarks of being promises. It's a piece of metal with rivets on it. There are about a million rivets on the wings of the 777, and there are a million rivets in the fuselage.

So that part is good. The part about fiberglass or Plexiglas on it doesn't quite ring true. The insulation on a plane kind of looks like polymer bricks or pillows and it's lined up in the fuselage. So that part doesn't ring true. But the rivets in the metal rings true and you would have thought they would run to look at those pictures.

CUOMO: A big curiosity for me. You have all this Inmarsat data. I get that it's complicated. I think that I wouldn't understand it.

But you know what? There are probably tens of thousands of people on the Internet and in this world who understand it damn well. So, the question becomes why not be open and put it out there and say anybody who can crunch this kind of stuff, let's have at it. David Soucie, why not?

SOUCIE: I can't really answer that, Chris.

CUOMO: You must, you must answer it, David.

SOUCIE: I must?

OK. Well, what I'll speculate is the information they have is either intellectual property of some kind, protected of some kind or there's potential down the road to become something they can market as a product. I really don't have the specific answer for why they would because, if it were me, it would be shared. I don't understand why they're not sharing it.

CUOMO: Soucie's conclusion is accepted. His analysis is weak, Mary Schiavo. Why do you believe that they're not releasing this data?

SCHIAVO: I think they're not releasing it because they gave the data to the Malaysians and they're deferring to the Malaysians. That's my suspicion because Inmarsat already said they would give away for free to any airline that wanted them to monitor their flights.

So, I think they're deferring to the Malaysians and once again the Malaysians are being very secretive for no apparent reason.

CUOMO: So, what's the best guess? You have a book over your shoulder, "Flying Blind, Flying Safe". It seems to be what the two goals being balanced here in this investigation, that sometimes they just spit out data that seems to have no bearing to any facts and at the other time they're being super cautious.

SCHIAVO: Oh, it is interesting you mention "Flying Blind, Flying Safe", which is a book I wrote about our own FAA's incompetence. So, sometimes the reason that governments don't do what they're supposed to do is because they don't know what they're doing. We've been guilty of that ourselves.

So, it's quite possible the Malaysians are being secretive and covering things up because they're unsure of themselves. That's usually what you find behind government secrecy, incompetence.

CUOMO: The good news is they made a recommendation in this preliminary report that planes should be tracked in real-time. That will be great. We know they can do it now. We know they do it with military.

The reason they're not doing it is inefficient administration and cost center analysis. In other words, they're cheap. So, do you think this may be a flash point that we move past that, Mary Schiavo?

SCHIAVO: Well, one can only hope so, but the airlines will never move past it, we'll never agree to do it unless we make it a regulation. And so, the real pressure is going to have to come from the government no matter how much people put pressure on them, airlines do not respond except to regulation.

CUOMO: David Soucie, you're nothing but helpful. I was teasing you before, forcing you to answer.

SOUCIE: That's all right.

CUOMO: A question where they've given nothing but good answers.

Mary, you owe me because I hocked your book. You can make the check out to the Chris Cuomo pizza fund. Thank you to both of you.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, no signs of life in the ferry that soak off the coast of South Korea. Officials say divers did not find any air pockets in their search of the ship's upper decks that they had hoped. That's where they thought they might find some survivors.

The death toll rising again as well, at least 156 bodies have been recovered. Still, 146 people remain unaccounted for this morning.

CNN's Nic Robertson has the very latest live in Jindo, South Korea.

Evening, once again, where you are once, Nic. The search continues even into the darkness?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It does. We've been watching the flares over the horizon where the search is going on, very bright tonight. We know as well on that search area, a massive new ship to lead the search has been moved into place. Nine times larger than the ship that was there before. We're told the area surrounding the ferry has been sealed off with nets. So, no bodies, no divers can drift away in currents.

But today, news of perhaps the grimmest discovery so far.


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.

(INAUDIBLE) 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: Late today, we've learned another two crew members have been arrested. That brings a total of 11 crew members arrested so far. We also learned today that the ship's owner has had his office and his house searched by police -- Chris.

CUOMO: We'll be looking forward to see what the investigation yields. Nic Robertson, thank you very much.

Also breaking the morning, the situation in Ukraine getting drastically worse. The interim government is stepping up security in the east where violence is quickly erasing an Easter truce.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the latest -- Fred.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And certainly, that Easter truce is one that the government says is now null and void. They say they've re-launched what they call an anti-terror operation in the country after a top level politician was found dead in a river in one of the towns being held by pro-Russian protesters, Chris. The Ukrainian intelligence and security services say the pro- Russian separatists are behind the man's death. They say his body showed signs of torture.

The pro-Russian separatists for their part blame what they call Ukrainian right wing militant groups for all of this. But certainly, it is something causing the situation to escalate rather than to de- escalate and the Ukrainian government for its part is saying it's playing tough now.

And, of course, as part of re-launching that anti-terror operation, that means they plan to send additional military units into the eastern end of the country.

But, Chris, we have seen in the last week when they tried this before, that the Ukrainian military didn't seem capable of conducting sophisticated counterinsurgency warfare. In fact, the last time they tried to send armored personnel carriers to fight those pro-Russian separatists, several of those armored personnel carriers were hijacked by the separatist. It's unclear how capable the Ukrainian military is.

Back to you, Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: That is a concern, of course, the fact it's not de-escalating. Rather go in the other direction is even more of a concern.

Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much.

New details about that 15-year-old stowaway who hitched a ride in a wheel well of a plane flying from California to Hawaii. Officials tell CNN the teen was trying to reach his mother in Somalia. Now, many are asking, if he, someone without the various intentions, can breach airport security, who else can?

CNN's Dan Simon is in San Jose with more -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michaela. It sounds like this is a kid who was very homesick, who acted out in a very irrational way to say the very least. But it does give a little insight into his state of mind.


SIMON (voice-over): He wound up in Hawaii but the 15-year-old stowaway apparently wanted to get to Africa. A law enforcement source tells CNN the teenager told FBI investigators that he was trying to get to Somalia to see his mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wanted to kind of go back home, like he wanted to -- originally he's from Africa.

SIMON: The boy who now lives in Santa Clara, California, told classmates that he missed his home country. Why did he choose an airliner? The FBI believes it was the first plane he saw.

(on camera): Describe his personality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet kid. You wouldn't see him doing this. Probably the last person you would expect.

SIMON (voice-over): Students also say he was new to this public high school. Only a few weeks.

(on camera): What can you tell us about him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, from what I know of, he was a really shy person, you know, he didn't really talk a lot. He mostly kept to himself.

SIMON (voice-over): We're also learning more about the timeline. That the boy jumped the airport fence at approximately 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The plane didn't leave until 8:00 a.m., which means he would have been on the tarmac or in that wheel well for approximately seven hours before it even took off. The flight itself was five hours.

In San Jose, passengers expressing disbelief over how the teenager could go undetected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're supposed to have all the security. We're spending billions of dollars in tax dollars since 9/11, kind of scary sometimes.


SIMON: The 15-year-old is still in a Maui hospital, said to be in very stable condition. Child welfare officials are making plans to return him back to California.

Chris and Kate, back to you.

CUOMO: All right. Boy, that story, I can't get enough of it. I really can't. We've got to figure it out. BOLDUAN: We need to hear from him.

CUOMO: We will. Just a matter of time.

Coming up on NEW DAY, big question, is it a piece of the plane? Officials are poring over photos of this object of interest. Metal, rivets. But is it connected to the flight? One of the reasons we don't know is because Malaysian officials say they haven't seen a picture of it yet. Really? We'll bring you the latest.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, so many questions about the conduct of the crew as the South Korean ferry began to list and then sink. Why were passengers told to stay in place, stay on the boat? We're going to go live to a ship simulator to see what the crew and the passengers may have been up against.


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us on NEW DAY.

Right now, investigators are studying a piece of metal that washed ashore on the West Coast of Australia, south of Perth. They are trying to determine whether or not this could be debris from Flight 370. What does this information tell us about a possible crash site?

Here to walk us through some of this -- CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

We're at the magic wall together.


PEREIRA: So, let's talk about this. Is it surprising to you given the fact they found this piece of metal with rivets on it, this far but at the same time right in the area? Does it surprise you this was found there?

MYERS: Way down there, 1,000 miles from where they're searching for the body of the plane at the bottom of the ocean. There are a number of different theories that could make this happen. One, there was a 160-mile-per-hour cyclone right there when the plane went down.

PEREIRA: Back in March. We were talking about the weather.

MYERS: We didn't care about it because we were searching down there. That's 1,000 miles away, who cares about the cyclone. But now, we do care where that cyclone was because it's obviously much more significant.

Here is what now the Ocean Shield has been doing for the past couple days. Kind of doing some loops around here --

PEREIRA: Like a question mark --

MYERS: That's the question, that's -- but we do think it's going to continue to move around looking for it because there were other pings. We talked about these things, but these are 15 miles apart. This pinger is supposed to go one mile.

How can the pinger be here and another ping be here 15 miles away? There are some tricks going on in the bottom of the motion.

PEREIRA: We talked about that the currents play games with the acoustics under water.

MYERS: You bet.

PEREIRA: This is that tropical cyclone back in March.

MYERS: That is a 160-mile-per-hour cyclone as it moved here. That was Jillian. And it was pushing, now, we've got to think -- in America, we think all the hurricanes go like that? We're in the southern hemisphere, the cyclones go like this -- right, they go the opposite direction.

So, let's see the debris was here, pushed south, south, south. And so, how could it get farther to the east back toward Australia? That's what the currents -- this is what the current currents look like.

PEREIRA: This I think is really telling because most of us -- I don't know, I'm not a mariner. Chris would tell me otherwise about currents. But you would think they go sort of in a more static kind of way. I can't believe the movement every which way.

MYERS: They're called eddies, they come around, they spin this way, come back that way, and they'll spin this way, and they come back around.

If that debris was caught in an eddy here going around and around or even in the direction getting back toward Australia, there's a long shore current that goes along Australia right down there, and it could have deposited that debris right there. Now, there's no way to know whether the rivets and the metal and the fiberglass are part of the plane or not.

I still believe there's stuff floating in here in this gyre here from the Banda Aceh 2004 tsunami. It just sits there and spins and spins.

PEREIRA: Right, the garbage path that we talk about.

MYERS: This garbage could get anywhere. When you talk about putting a big hurricane cyclone in the middle of the garbage patch --

PEREIRA: So, you've got the hurricane, you've got the garbage patch and you get all these currents, no wonder this is so mystifying.

MYERS: Right. We have so many pings, we have ships driving around looking for pings and yet, now, we have another -- all this wind, all this weather.

Let's just talk about a piece of metal that's floating in the ocean but not sticking up. It goes with that current. If this metal has a little fin on it, it now becomes a sail and that sail moves that way and moves that way with the wind. So, there's no question that a thousand miles from the search area --

PEREIRA: That's not unreasonable at all.

MYERS: One-mile-per-hour, not at all.

PEREIRA: Chad, really looking at it that way, it makes you understand, Kate and Chris, how much these guys are up against. We've been talking about the challenges of the search, but really got illustrates it really well.

CUOMO: Chad getting very forensic there explaining the situation.

BOLDUAN: Good to know.

CUOMO: Not a doctor, but I play one on TV.

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right, and we still wait for confirmation from Australian authorities on what it actually is.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, at least 156 dead and just as many still unaccounted for after the ferry disaster off the coast of South Korea. Why was it so difficult escape? We're going to take you to a ship simulator for a look at the conditions.

CUOMO: And we have an interview you're going to want to hear. You know the deadly avalanche that happened on Mount Everest. We told you about it. Well, climbers are still there. We have one on the phone describing what they lived through, how a Sherpa saved his life and all the drama going in the aftermath, coming up.


PEREIRA: Welcome back.

Time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

At number one, a piece of metal described as an object of interest washing up on the west coast of Australia. It's being studied right now to determine if it is from Flight 370.

Grim news out of South Korea where divers found no air pockets while searching the upper decks of the sunken ferry. In other words, no sign of life, 156 bodies have been recovered, 146 people are still missing.

President Obama has begun a week-long four nation tour of Asia this morning. Currently, he is in Japan. His next stop, South Korea, then Malaysian and the Philippines later this week. The trip is meant to strengthen U.S. ties to that region.

Security operations targeting pro-Russian militants are resuming in east Ukraine, this move comes as last week's deal to ease tensions continues to unravel.

This morning, two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station will conduct a space walk to discuss the failed backup computer relay system on the space station's thrust.

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


BOLDUAN: There are new questions about whether the captain and crew were prepared to handle the disaster when the ferry went under.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live on the ship's simulator in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to help us understand kind of what they're up against. And she'll joined by Dave Boldt, a simulator operator with Resolve Maritime Academy.

Rosa, can you hear me? Rosa, can you hear me?

ROSA FLORES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I can hear you.

BOLDUAN: Great. Technical difficulties.

So, I was just saying that you're in the simulator with Dave. And this is obviously, we say this with a heavy heart because it's a terrifying experience for anyone to go through, but to get a better understanding of what the crew and passengers were up against.

First start as off and explain kind of what you're looking at, what we're looking at here.

FLORES: Well, this is a bridge simulator. We are at Resolve Maritime Academy. This is Dave Boldt with Resolve.

So, he's the one that guides us and tells us what to do. What are we looking at?

DAVID BOLDT, SIMULATOR OPERATOR, RESOLVE MARITIME ACADEMY: This is a full mockup of a bridge, integrated bridge system, radars, auto pilots, engines, thrusters, automated systems. So, it's exactly what you'd see on the ship.

FLORES: And, Kate, you can also add complexities to this particular bridge. You can see there's rain, thunder, we can almost feel like we're on a ship. So, we're going to be adding complexities as we go along this morning, to give you a sense of what it's like to be on the bridge and make those split second decisions from a captain's perspective.

BOLDUAN: Well, how you make those decisions and how much time it takes I think is the key to the mystery of what happened to the ferry in South Korea.

Dave, one of the things we know while there are many variables still, that the ferry began to list quite dramatically before it began to sink. Can you put us through that and describe what the crew and all the passengers were experiencing at that time?

BOLDT: Well, we can show you what it might look like. If the ship is sitting at a large angle and not coming back, you know something is wrong, all the crew, all the passengers would know there was an issue at this point.

BOLDUAN: And when do you make the call for help. There's a big question of when the crew called for help and what the ship was doing at the time. As experienced as you are, when do you know that you're not going to be able to correct this?

BOLDT: Well, I mean, it depends completely on the situation. But if you're stuck at a large angle and you have passengers and crew that need to get off, you know, the sooner, the better obviously.

BOLDUAN: And you've got --

FLORES: One of the things, Kate, that we were able to do --

BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

FLORES: One of the other things that we were able to do actually is this company trains crew members to how to deal with very stressful situations.