Return to Transcripts main page


Hijack Scare; Malaysia's Prime Minister Talks To CNN About Flight 370; Ukraine PM: Russia Wants World War 3; Bluefin-21 Mission Now 95 Percent Complete

Aired April 25, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight. Scare in the air. A hijacking distress call from the pilot after a passenger plane departs Australia. Troops called in, an airport shut down. But who was banging on that cockpit door and why. We're live in Australia with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This as Australian officials announced they're ready to start expanding the search area for Flight 370. Plus, a CNN exclusive interview with the Malaysian prime minister. Does he believe the plane was hijacked, or something else?

MICHAEL PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking overnight. Warnings of war. Ukraine's prime minister says Russian provocations could lead to world war three. As the U.S. ratchets up the pressure, we're live with the latest.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, April 25th. 6:00 now in the east. And breaking overnight a pilot sent out a hijack alert on a Virgin Airlines flight from Australia to Indonesia.

BOLDUAN: But it turns out it was all a miscommunication sparked by an unruly passenger.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Perth, Australia.

Erin, what more are we learning about what happened on this flight?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Well, we understand the incident was caused by a disruptive passenger on board a Virgin Australian Boeing 737 flight from Brisbane, Australia, to Bali's main airport. There were those initial reports of a hijacking, but that turns out not to be the case. Virgin Australia putting out a statement saying, at no point was the safety of the 139 passengers aboard that plane in question.

Now, by sheer coincidence a CNN producer was actually at the airport at the time the incident occurred. She described a scene that was actually far from chaotic. She said the plane was simply brought to the farther end of the runway. It was surrounded by four to five patrol cars. We understand the passenger was brought into police custody, but he was unarmed. Some flights at the airport were delayed, but everything, according to that CNN producer, was back to normal within the hour -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Erin, thanks for the reporting. Let's bring in Richard Quest live from Kuala Lumpur. Richard, we're going to talk to you about the Flight for 370 and your exclusive interview with the Malaysian prime minister. Let's talk about this hijacking scare for a second. You're in the region. What are you hearing? Was this any way related or a goof ball on the plane? What do they think?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I think you put your finger very firmly on it this morning. Unruly passenger. There are plenty of them. When they are apprehended they feel the full force of law and that's what's going to happen in this case.

There are an enormous number -- large number of airlines crisscrossing the Asia-Pacific region and this, of course, was a holiday flight from Australia up to Indonesia, up to Bali. What you have here is maybe somebody who had been either a little too imbibes or had taken the wrong turn. He's going to feel the full force of the law.

CUOMO: Richard, let's turn to your interview with the Malaysian prime minister. You have something that is very unusual when you talk to a state official. You have news. You have things that came out of this that are new and actually help provide some insight.

I want you to toss to the sound yourself. You know it better than I do. Interesting takes on why he used the word hostile early on, whether it was deliberate about the posture towards the families and disclosure. Take us through it. Were you as surprised that he was as candid with you as he was?

QUEST: That's a really good question, Chris, and the answer is yes. This is the Malaysia PM's first really big sit-down interview on this subject. And to some extent there was so much to talk about that if he just talked about the weather it would have been newsworthy in that sense. But what I needed to do, of course, is look forward as much as what had happened.

So let's start with where we're going to go next. And I asked, bearing in mind that we're reporting this morning, Bluefin-21 is coming to the end of the narrow search and that they will have to be looking further and they're going to have to go deeper and it's going to cost more and it's going to take longer, so the prime minister's question was, were they prepared for the long haul and the expensive costs.


QUEST: Is Malaysia prepared to put whatever it costs for however long into finding this plane? And we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars over many years if need be. Can you give that commitment tonight?

NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: We owe it to the families. We will search. We will spend as much as we can, as much as we can afford, to find the missing plane.

QUEST: Could I ask you for a yes or a no on that question?

NAJIB: It would be a yes, but as I said, it has to be on the basis of our affordability. But we owe it to the families to find answers that they are looking for.


QUEST: Now, I'm sure that there will be some who will say he used weasel words. He's giving himself a get out of jail free card by using the phrase "on the basis of our affordability." That is not how it came across to me, having been with the prime minister, Chris. The prime minister is very much a man of the principle that they will do whatever it takes because he recognizes it and he chooses his words extremely carefully.

For instance, he's only given two statements so far on the 14th and the 24th of March. In both cases the words were used in the case of the early statement that the plane had been flown deliberately. In the second, in the case that the flight had ended in the Indian Ocean. I asked him about his choice of words.


QUEST: You've given two statements, one, I think on the 14th or 15th, one on the 24th. They are major statements of the direction of this.

NAJIB: Sure.

QUEST: When you describe it as deliberate action by somebody on the plane, that word deliberate is very carefully chosen. It doesn't tell us whether it's deliberate nefarious or deliberate because of mechanical. You said it that.

NAJIB: Precisely. It was very, very carefully chosen because given the facts, and mind you, Richard, the cardinal rule that we used from day one was always follow the evidence. And the evidence that was presented to us meant that there was precisely the right word for me to use.

QUEST: Which do you believe it is, nefarious, mechanical, or are you prepared to say?

NAJIB: Not at this stage. It would be wrong for me to speculate because you need hard evidence, Richard.


QUEST: And that's the problem, you need hard evidence. And there simply isn't any, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, it's true, but you were pushing him on the right questions though, in my opinion, Richard, because they had been putting out a lot of speculation, the notion that it might have been hostile, it seemed to take a deliberate turn and focusing on the pilot. It was interesting for you to put those questions to the prime minister, especially whether or not he was going to release more information to the families. He said he's going to put out the preliminary report and hopefully that will help the dialogue there.

Really well done, Richard, an important interview that needed to be done and you did very well. Thanks for bringing it to us this morning, my friend. Get home safely.

QUEST: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: Now let's turn to the latest on the crisis in Ukraine. President Obama said today that he will continue to talk with European allies about new sanctions against Russia, but he also made clear, once again, that sanctions are ready to go if needed but he admits they're not a quick fix. The threat of the sanctions are not forcing Russia to change course so far. They're going ahead with military drills just outside the borders a move.

A top Ukrainian official says it makes Russia looks like it wants another world war. Senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh is in Ukraine with the very latest. How is it looking from the ground right now, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, troubling this morning, two separate explosions. One far to the west of where I'm standing at a police check point seems to have been caused by an explosive device and here near where I'm standing in do innocence and Kramatorsk. We understand from a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military a grenade was fired blowing up a helicopter there. Despite the fact that no one was injured in either incidents, we are still seeing an area here extraordinary close to open conflict.


WALSH (voice-over): Tensions flaring in Ukraine as the region teeters on the brink of war. Bloody, fiery crashes erupting as the Ukrainian military moves to reclaim cities taken by pro-Russian militants, killing five of them, they say, and destroying three checkpoints around the eastern town of Slavyansk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seizing on the Ukrainian military action as a direct threat to Russia warning of immediate consequences, saying, quote, "If the Kiev regime has started to use the army against the population inside the country, it is a very serious crime."

SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian federation.

WALSH: Russia's response was swift, conducting new military drills for its 40,000 troops positioned along the Eastern Ukrainian border moving tanks into place and testing jet fighters to overcome enemy missile defense. Running out of patience the Ukrainian president insists that Russia retreat and end what he calls its blackmail. Ukraine remains a country divided with those in the east carrying a strong allegiance to Russia.

The war of words between the U.S. and Russia growing increasingly intense. Secretary of State John Kerry accusing Russia of distraction, deception, and destabilization in the region.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: If Russia continues in this direction, it will not just be a grave mistake, it will be an expensive mistake.

WALSH: New U.S. sanctions against Russia could come as early as today if Putin refuses to de-escalate the situation. U.S. forces on the ground in Eastern Europe holding military exercise of their own to counter the threat from Russia. These paratroopers are the first of 600 soldiers deployed in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all NATO allies, all nervous about where Russia could strike next.


WALSH: Well, day by day the rhetoric we hear really heats up. We got a glimpse from Barack Obama moments ago talking in Seoul that while there could be some new sanctions against individuals connected to Putin today, they want to keep, quote, "some arrows in their quiver" in case things get further out of hand here. That's the broad concern. Washington does believe we could see significant intervention here by Russia in the coming weeks -- Chris.

CUOMO: That becomes the question, Nick. Are words enough in this situation? Let's now go to Michelle Kosinski. She's with the president. As Nick said he just gave comments at a press conference in South Korea. We believe, Michelle, he's continuing the war of words and the question therefore remains, can the U.S. make Russia do anything in this situation that it doesn't want to?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris, right, throughout this Asian trip the world's eyes have been watching the Ukraine situation and the U.S. response to it. I think it was interesting that President Obama said that tonight he would be talking to European allies about that situation. You know, we've been hearing for many days now that the expanded sanctions against Russia are coming soon, they're ready to go. The administration has been using words like watch and wait and coming days or through the weekend, which has long since past.

So the fact that they're going to be talking about that tonight could indeed indicate that those sanctions are coming very, very soon. But today President Obama also mentioned the possibility of applying pressure with more bite to North Korea. Remember, in this part of the world North Korea is the biggest security concern.

The South Koreans expect another North Korean missile test at any time. President Obama said that the U.S. and South Korea stand shoulder to shoulder against continued North Korean threats and provocation, and said that their refusal to give up their nuclear program despite the world's demands will only bring North Korea, quote, "nothing" -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Michelle Kosinski, traveling with the president. We appreciate that, thank you.

Here are more of your headlines at this hour, while in South Korea, President Obama offered his condolences to the families of victims in the ferry disaster before a private meeting with South Korea's president, Mr. Obama held a moment of silence for those who perished. The coast guard says rescue teams have now recovered 185 bodies from the wreckage of that sunken ferry, 117 people remain unaccounted for.

Israel has suspended peace talks with Palestinians in response to a unity deal made between rival Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas. The pact angered Israel which considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization. This move puts the U.S. back peace talks in disarray. But Secretary of State John Kerry says talks could still go on if both sides make compromises.

An American Airlines flight from Tallahassee to Miami was forced to make an emergency landing in Tampa last night. Passengers report smelling smoke in the cabin. Some say they heard an explosion. The airline has not confirmed those reports. Passengers were given hotel rooms and meal vouchers and they will be rebooked on another flight this morning. Not the kind of thing you want to experience when you're flying.

BOLDUAN: No, not at all. That's for sure, especially if you're flying this weekend, let's hope that does not happen to you and let's hope you have good weather. Let's get over to Chad Myers in for Indra Petersons to look at the weekend forecast. How is it looking?


BOLDUAN: Looks a little bumpy in places.

MYERS: Yes, exactly. There is a big storm moving into the west that will make severe weather in the plains for Saturday and Sunday. Here's what you have to deal with first. This big area of rain into New York City, probably 10:00 to midnight tonight, into D.C., somewhere around 8:00 tonight. So if you have evening plans keep that in mind. Windy in the plains if you're flying today. There will be some moderate turbulence out there. Keep that in mind.

It's going to bumpy, especially out in the west. It's 62 in New York City. It's 69 in Washington. Not as windy today as yesterday and not as windy today as tomorrow. There's a storm right here. Here's today, 10:00 in the morning. Raining in Detroit and moves into Pittsburgh. Eventually D.C., there you go, that's about 5:00, 6:00, just at the rush hour or just about later.

There you go. New York City, the rain coming in at midnight, but then by tomorrow afternoon it's all gone. There is a lot of rain. I tell you what, Chris, this is for you to wash away more of your pollen. I know how much you love it. But an inch and a half of rainfall in some spots across the northeast. That will wash a lot of it out of the air and we like that.

Because I think my left nostril actually went on strike on Wednesday. There's the severe weather for Saturday and it moves to the east on Sunday. I, in fact will, be on an airplane to the Midwest chasing the tornadoes this weekend.

PEREIRA: Get those nostrils working.

BOLDUAN: I would say I hope you can stop in Indiana but it doesn't look like it's going to reach there, and either way I don't want you anywhere near a storm so maybe you should get stuck here.

MYERS: My wife doesn't like it either.

BOLDUAN: I know. Have a good weekend to everyone.

We've got a lot more news ahead.

CUOMO: Respect Chad's effort going there to make sure that people are going if extreme weather hits and thinking of his buddy with the big nose that doesn't work when the pollen gets in it. That's a problem also.

BOLDUAN: Your nostrils are on strike as well.

CUOMO: Always has to be good news.

A lot of rain, usually warms up the ocean, that makes it better for fishermen. So, got to see the positive. Especially on Friday.

Coming up on NEW DAY: the search for Flight 370 is getting bigger, much bigger. But is bigger better? We're going to ask the experts.

BOLDUAN: And ahead, Ukraine's prime minister accusing Russia of plotting World War III. These are his words. The rhetoric kicking up this morning as the U.S. continues to threaten new sanctions. And with Moscow now planning more military drills on its border with Ukraine, is the violence about to escalate?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

The search for Flight 370 is about to get bigger. Now the Bluefin, mini sub, Bluefin-21 is almost 95 percent done with its underwater search in that focused area. Officials confirm they're going to expand it.

Joining us now with more is CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general at the Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo.

Mary, good morning. We want to get your take.


BOLDUAN: We kind of suspected this, that this may happen. They said this is an option. They're confirming this morning that they're going to expand it.

In their statement, how they they've described it, Mary, is they're going to continue to examine the area adjacent to that radius around the second ping. Is that unusual or is that a typical next step?

SCHIAVO: Well, it's a little bit unusual because in this case these pings, these -- and handshakes, it's interesting how our lexicon has changed, but that's all they have. So, they really have to expand this. The prime minister's interview with Richard, he re-enforced that. He emphasized that they believe that that is the area and that's where they're going to continue to search.

So, really, the next choice is their obvious step is they have to expand the area and go further to either side of that pathway of that arc and then also put some possibly deeper diving unmanned vehicles or even manned vehicles, underwater vehicles down to see what's in that last, you know, mile of the ocean that they could not reach with the Bluefin. So it really is the only next step that they can take.

BOLDUAN: Do you think maybe without them saying publicly that they've already started asking other assets to move into the area, like the Orion we know can dip deeper. If they're in various parts of the world, it could take a long time for this equipment to get into place.

SCHIAVO: Oh, I believe they started asking some time ago because not only do you have to get the equipment and it's not like this equipment is in warehouse. You know, for example, they're using this equipment on the ocean floor to secure oil pipelines, to make sure we don't have another spill and like in the gulf. They use these for communications conduits, et cetera.

So, these are busy out there working, so I believe they started requesting these some time ago. But then they need support ships. Not only do they need the underwater vehicles but the crew to man the ships. So, when they moved in the U.S. supply ship, the floating supermarket, I think that's when they started asking for these additional assets, and that was about a week and a half or so ago.

BOLDUAN: I also want to get your take on Richard Quest's exclusive interview with the prime minister. It's been so important and we've all been trying and waiting and wanting to hear from the prime minister himself throughout this entire search and investigation. He finally sits down with Richard.

And this morning and in one bit of the interview that Richard brought to us, they discussed that -- that line, deliberate action in the cockpit. And what I took from that, Mary, was that they don't seem any further along in their determination if it was nefarious, if it was mechanical, does that surprise you?

SCHIAVO: No, it doesn't because all along as people have been prying and I think Richard's interview was great because it gave us so much information not just about where they are but inside the prime minister and what they're thinking. But I think it confirms they just don't have any evidence of criminal activity and they're searching to rule in or to rule out or to look for it.

But if they had any evidence of hard criminal activity, I think the prime minister would have said, yes, we have evidence of criminal activity because he wouldn't want to be out there, you know, being very, very vague at a time when he's been criticized by the families and others for not providing information. So I think they just don't have any information either way, really.

BOLDUAN: One thing that the prime minister also discussed, Richard also has asked him about the relationship with families and the fact that families do not believe they have been given any information or any of the information that they believe they should have.

The prime minister said that he believes they have been giving them as much information as they can but that he just doesn't believe that they're going to be able to give them what they want, which is exactly where the plane's location is. Do you see that?

SCHIAVO: Well, that's true. That is what they want.


SCHIAVO: And certainly that is what all of this effort wants to deliver to them. But, no, I can understand where they fight feel they've given him information. But I don't think they were cognizant of how much briefing and how much information families want and usually get in accident investigations.

And these family members have talked to families from other accidents. They know what the standard is. Other family members have gone over there to help them so what they need to understand is they have been told they're entitled to a lot and they get a lot in other countries, daily or twice daily briefings from the United States NTSB, for example.

BOLDUAN: Fifty days in, they still don't seem to have the recognition that families normally get more information. One thing that also is new that came out of the interview is that they will be releasing that preliminary report that we talked about so much, Mary. That will be released next week.

Do you think we're going to get anything new out of that, real quick?

SCHIAVO: I hope so because if not it's going to lead to so much more frustration. It's going to be straightforward and loaded with facts that will buy them time to regroup, retool, and get assets back out there on the ocean to search.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Mary, thank you so much. We'll talk to you again.


SCHIAVO: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY, Ukraine's prime minister claims Moscow's out to start World War III. The U.S. is promising new sanctions against Russia but the question is will that hurt? Was it tough enough or was it just tough talk? Russia's response: action. More troop exercises close to the border.

We have experts to look to the future and what they see ain't pretty.


PEREIRA: Half past the hour here on NEW DAY.

Let's look at more of your headlines. Breaking overnight, frightening moments aboard Virgin Australia flight headed to Indonesia. An unruly passenger tried to enter the cockpit forcing the pilot to send out a hijack alert. The spokesman for the airline says the plane was not hijacked and that it landed safely in Bali. The passenger was arrested and taken into custody.

Officials are going to expand the search area for flight 370 now that the Bluefin-21 is almost done with the underwater search. Still no sign of the plane.

In the meantime, in an exclusive interview with CNN, Malaysia's prime minister says he will release a preliminary report on Flight 370 next week. He says he's not ready to officially declare the plane is lost yet.

At a news conference in South Korea this morning, President Obama said the U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with Seoul against threats to security on the Korean Peninsula.