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EARLY START

Flight 370 Report Due to Come Out Soon; Search for Missing Plane Continues; Controversial Toronto Mayor Takes Leave of Absence; Crisis in Ukraine Escalates Further; Families Demanded Report Release; Economy Grows Almost Flat

Aired May 1, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning, new information in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Investigators set any minute to release their preliminary findings to the public.

They will report -- will this report satisfy families of the missing who have been waiting weeks, weeks for answers? And could the new information help crews in their search for the vanished jetliner? We've got live team coverage.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news affecting millions here at home. Rainfall leaving so much of the East Coast under water this morning. Severe storms destroying homes, wiping away roads and anything else in their path. Millions are waking up to the devastation, and folks, this is not over yet. Indra Petersons is tracking today's storms.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. A very soggy EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: It really is. I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour on this Thursday, this May day, 1st of May.

At this moment, we're waiting for word from Malaysia, where the government is set to make public any minute now its preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight 370.

Let's get right to Will Ripley. He is live in Kuala Lumpur.

Will, any word yet when we might see the details of what's in this report?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We literally are expecting this report to come via e-mail any moment now, and we are constantly checking to see when it comes in. And there's a lot of scrutiny here because there's a lot of questions. These families have been demanding this report for weeks. We know that a version of it was released a few days ago to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

And so now we want to get our hands on this to see if it answers some of the key questions in this case. It's expected to lay out, basically, the facts that have already been reported, the things that we know, but there are some things that we could see in the report that we're going to be looking for, for example, an explanation, a greater explanation of that Inmarsat satellite data, those hourly handshakes that happened for six consecutive hours that have given authorities so much confidence that this plane, MH-370, is in the southern Indian Ocean that they've invested countless hours, millions of dollars, and are planning a long-term search under water of this area.

And that, Christine, is the other thing that we're expecting to be laid out in this report, is what happens next with the search, what technology is going to be used, aside from the Bluefin-21, to scan this massive underwater area searching for this plane.

ROMANS: All right, Will Ripley, thank you for that. We're going to bring it to you as soon as we have it.

Will Ripley in Kuala Lumpur who's waiting for that report right now.

BERMAN: That's right, and as we wait for that report to come out any minute, this morning the leader of the search for Flight 370 is heading to Malaysia to talk with officials there about what's in that report and what comes next.

Our Miguel Marquez live in Perth with that part of the story.

Good morning, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning there, John. I can tell you that the joint agency that is coordinating this search here is -- has the Bluefin back in the water, which is good news. It had been out of service for two days because they were unable to launch it off of the Ocean Shield because of weather. Now it's gone down for mission 17. We don't have a readout yet on whether or not it found anything.

It's now searching the area north of where they picked up ping two on April 8th, it's moving its way toward the area of ping one. Those were the two highest quality pings that they received. That is where officials believe that that plane does exist, and the Bluefin will continue to work until it can't work anymore. At least, the Ocean Shield can't work anymore. It will have to come in for refueling eventually.

On this -- on this company, GeoResonance, that made so many headlines yesterday and -- and create so much interest, they have just released a statement, sort of pushing back at the media and other people who they say don't understand their technology. They call it their quantum physics technology.

Everybody from NASA on down, literally, would like to understand how this company came to the conclusion that there may be a jetliner down there. They have not allowed that technology or their study to be public, saying that it is proprietary in nature. The Bangladeshis have sent two frigates to that area to see what they can see. But look, if there's not going to be anything floating on the surface this far on here, there is likely not to be anything floating on the surface there at this point either.

So it's not clear how soon this mystery would be, you know, tied up, but certainly if they find the plane here in the southern part, it will.

Back to you, guys.

ROMANS: All right, Miguel Marquez. Thanks for that, Miguel.

BERMAN: Yes. A healthy dose of skepticism there, to be sure. Our thanks to Miguel Marquez.

But let's talk about this report, again, which is due any minute now. This is coming from Malaysian officials. This is the preliminary report, everything that they've learned up until this point we believe as to what happened to Flight 370.

So we want to bring in CNN aviation analyst Jeff Wise.

Jeff, I want to ask you this. We've been waiting for this report for a long, long time, and lord knows the families have been waiting longer and they care about it more than anyone does.

What will be the first thing you look for in this report?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, there's so much, but, you know, as we talked about before, the big thing that we're really keen to get is this Inmarsat data that has all the answers. It has everything we're going to know until we find the actual plane. It's everything we're going to know about the fate of this airplane. And we hope it's there. We don't really know.

You know, here in the United States, sometimes these preliminary reports might just be a couple of paragraphs describing the basic facts about what happened. In a more complicated or high-profile case, it could be substantially larger. You know, we hear a lot of talk about Air France 447. That initial interim report, which was released just a month after that plane disappeared, that was 127 pages long.

ROMANS: Really?

WISE: It had lots of really detailed, technical information. If it's something like that, we could be in really good shape. And you know, it may be -- it seems like the Malaysians initially did not intend to release this report, so it might be more full and frank than otherwise they might have made it.

ROMANS: They've been under a lot of pressure to release this information. I mean, just from the technical angle, people want to see -- outsiders want to see what was the methodology they used in analyzing all of that data.

BERMAN: If there was methodology analyzing that data. ROMANS: Right. Right.

WISE: Right. We really don't know why the authorities are so insistent that it has to be in the southern ocean. They've talked about some kind of new math, but there's also been an implication that some other data was used, maybe radar data or just the fact that they don't believe it could have flown over so many countries that would be required if it went to the north. We're keen to find the truth.

BERMAN: And let's talk about the ocean search. Miguel Marquez was talking about the ocean search, the Bluefin-21 back engaged after two days of bad weather, now expanding its search to areas where the other pings were heard by the towed pinger locator. The focus has been on one area where they heard two pings. Now they're going to search the other area where they heard the other two pings.

WISE: Right. I mean, there's actually -- these pings were heard quite a fair distance apart, which itself is a little baffling, because the towed pinger locator that detected these pings supposedly is only supposed to have a range of about one mile, maybe two, if you really push it. These things are quite a bit further apart than that. So it's not clear how a stationary box sitting at the bottom of the ocean floor could have presented a signal that was detected so far away.

So there's a lot of mysteries in this search. Of course, this -- really this whole process has been nothing but one mystery on top of another.

BERMAN: Jeff Wise, great to have you here with us this morning.

Again, we are awaiting the release of that report, the official report from Malaysian officials. It could be out within minutes. We'll bring it to you the moment it happens.

ROMANS: All right, now to the awful weather plaguing the eastern part of the country. Heavy rain causing flooding from Florida all the way up the coast. And today's forecast is still wet, it's still very dangerous for millions of you. More rain expected.

BERMAN: There is breaking news this morning from Pensacola, Florida, hit hard by the flooding. Now authorities say the county jail there was rocked by an apparent gas explosion overnight. At least two people are dead from that explosion. More than 100 prisoners and corrections officers hurt.

This, folks, seems to be very, very bad. It is not clear if the weather was responsible, but the jail, we are told did suffer significant flooding.

I want you to take a look at these frightening pictures, also from Pensacola, that part of the Gulf Coast so obviously slammed by nearly 2 feet of rain. The roads there just washed out. What a muddy mess. Water mains broken, the homes just filled with mud and water, leaving residents scrambling for safety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come up scenic, there's trees down. Turned down Ninth and you can't go any further. Then turned down Bio and then I get this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water was coming in through our garage and then through the backdoors and flowing in, out this door. So we just have water in the house. We have little kids. We were getting a chair to perhaps get in the attic. We didn't know exactly what was going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: A lot of people there had to be rescued by boat. The water is receding now, but as you can see, it is such a mess. The cleanup will take weeks.

ROMANS: Breaking news also from Maryland where evacuations are under way right now in Laurel after a dam started leaking. Heavy rainfall also blamed for this. Look at that. This is Baltimore. It's a sinkhole swallowing up cars. Fire crews had to evacuate several homes nearby this sinkhole. No injuries reported there.

And take a look at this. This is what you do not want to do if you see high water on a road. You do not want to drive into it. This guy did, got stuck. This is near Bowie, Maryland. He is OK but had to be rescued.

BERMAN: In Virginia, standing water a problem on these roads near the Potomac in Alexandria. The heavy rain building up and driving creeks out of their banks. The risk of flooding is still very high there this morning, so be careful.

ROMANS: In Delaware, more than four inches fell on (INAUDIBLE) causing this, big lakes on the streets. Some still thought it was OK to drive through, though, and as we have told you, very bad.

BERMAN: A lot going on with this weather, which is not ending.

Indra Petersons is tracking the storms for us this morning.

Indra, what can we expect?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, when we talk about heavy rain, look at these numbers from just Sunday alone, places from Alabama down through Florida seeing totals over 17, in some places almost as high as 19 inches out towards Alabama. Radar indicated even higher amounts, but of course these are those official amounts that reported since just Sunday.

Now it wasn't just into the southeast. A lot of flooding concerns are in the northeast as well. The numbers do not look as high, but again, a lot of rain in short periods of time still produced all of that flooding. In fact, we saw record rainfall for the day. So New York City, almost five inches of rain. Same thing out towards Philly, even towards Maryland, about three inches of rain. But again, all this falling very quickly. Still talking about more showers in the forecast again today from the northeast straight down to the southeast. It's going to feel different. It's warm out there. We're behind a warm front, but nonetheless, showers are still in the forecast, really picking up again today as we go through the afternoon, as we switch and the cold front tries to exit offshore. So still another day of heavy rain again, feeling a little bit warmer by tomorrow when the cold front exits.

We're going to rebound and see those temperatures moderate a little bit.

A lot of attention on the northeast and southeast. So keep in mind, out west, unbelievable record heat and high winds. Unfortunately, that does mean it's a perfect combination for red flag warnings or fire danger. We're talking about winds out there even as high as 50, even 100 miles per hour in the mountains, making it very difficult for those firefighters to fight those flames, guys.

BERMAN: It's a bad combination. We'll definitely keep an eye on that out there.

Our thanks to Indra for that.

Meanwhile, other breaking news this morning. Ukraine on the brink perhaps of conflict this morning with a stunning admission from the Ukrainian president, admitting that pro-Russian militants have basically just taken over the east. His country in chaos. We're live with what's happening right now after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, we have breaking Rob Ford news overnight. Toronto's mayor, he is taking a break. Mayor Ford saying in a statement overnight that he'll take a leave of absence to get help. Why? Well, he's admitted he has a substance abuse problem. This as the Toronto's "Globe and Mail" newspaper says there is a new video, a new one allegedly showing Ford smoking crack again.

Now you'll remember, Ford admitted late last year to smoking crack. He'd said he had done it once at the time. Why? Because he was in sort of a drunken stupor. His real problem, he had said before, was with alcohol. It's unclear what this leave of absence means for his is campaign. He has declared he is running for another term as mayor of Toronto.

Toronto's city council has already stripped him of most of his powers. He's been, you know, photographed, recorded in public over the last several months, the erratic behavior never really stopped. A lot of people said this probably was inevitable.

ROMANS: Train wreck or laughing stock or just really sad case. I mean, people have a lot of conflicting views on what -- and his supporters think that, you know, he's a great guy of persecuted.

BERMAN: A man who needs help. ROMANS: All right. This morning authorities trying to contain a major oil spill in Lynchburg, Virginia, after a train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames. Authorities believe some of that oil may have spilled into the James River, which feeds the water supply for Richmond. Some 50,000 gallons of oil unaccounted for. 50,000 gallons. Booms have now been set up to contain that spill.

A startling admission in Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists now essentially control two regions close to the country's eastern border with Russia. Ukraine's acting president now says all his government can do is try to contain this violence, because in his words, police and security forces are helpless to stop it.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is live for us this morning in Slavyansk, Ukraine.

Nick, the admission from the president, it seems to counter everything he's been saying for weeks about stopping these militants.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, to a degree, it's an admission of the reality on the ground that we've been seeing here. I mean, the Ukrainian Security Forces half for over a week now said their anti-terror operation is under way here, but we've seen no real sign of it actually on the ground here, and the key question is do they actually have the will to complete what they've been set as a task?

There's a checkpoint near where I'm standing, yesterday where for the second time in a week, Ukrainian armored personnel carriers advanced yesterday, very early in the morning but they turned around. Little exchange of fire. We don't know why. But they're worried about casualties, were they worried about perhaps a Russian military response in that area.

But we also have to bear in mind, Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting president, also said he put the army on highest state of alert and we've seen security drills in fact in the center of Kiev, perhaps a way of trying to show they still have some ability to project authority. He has an election coming up, too, he also blames security services here in the east for not following his orders.

So a complex bit of political posturing by the Ukrainian president but a stark admission, certainly, too. As I say, the momentum on the ground here is entirely with the pro-Russian militants. There are protests for May Day, a public holiday around this region here.

Talk, I think, really is when do we see a call for a referendum. That's being set by some of the self-declared leaders, potentially for May 11th. Hard to get it ready at any realistic or legitimate way by then at all, but I think we're looking at to see exactly what these protesters and militants who have swept across both Donetsk region and neighboring Luhansk region now as well, quite what that their endgame is. Money think is getting much closer of not joining Russia. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Nick. Thank you for that. We're awaiting this m morning by the way, this new report on the disappearance of Flight 370, That's the other big story of the morning. So are the families, they have loved ones aboard. We're live in Beijing next with what those families are saying. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, we are standing by at this minute for the preliminary report that is set to be released by Malaysian officials on the disappearance of Flight 370. Now, up until this point, these officials had yet to make public their early findings on just what happened to the jet, which has now been missing for nearly two months.

For those who have loved ones on board that flight, this report could answer some of their questions or it could leave them with even more.

Our David McKenzie is with the families in Beijing.

David, what are these families saying this morning?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're saying they want any bit of information they can get, and they're also eagerly anticipating this report, though I have to say, they are pretty jaded at this point and believe maybe they won't get the answers that they need, but there is a large group of police here as well as a meeting ongoing with Malaysian Airline authorities.

They haven't allowed cameras inside the Lido Hotel, where many of the family members have been for nearly two months. And as the rain comes pouring down, they are just wanting any kind of details they can get to know what happened to their loved ones. Up until this point, many people are skeptical of the intelligent information they've been given, and so they want some kind of clarity, some kind of closure, and at the very least, want to understand how the decision was made to say that this plane went down in the southern ocean -- John.

BERMAN: Our David McKenzie in rain-soaked Beijing.

The storm here on the East Coast obviously traveling all the way to China at this point.

ROMANS: Yes. We thank him for standing outside for us for that report.

BERMAN: Those families waiting for that report. And again, we are waiting for this report, the official report on Flight 370, due out any minute from now.

ROMANS: We've also been talking a lot about the minimum wage and fair pay for workers. Some surprising findings this morning about who may not be paying employees what they're owed. That's in "Money Time," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Welcome back this Thursday morning, very early. Dow futures pointing to a higher open and maybe another record. Record close on Wall Street yesterday. The Dow only up for the year 0.3 percent, but at least it is positive. The last record close happened December 31st, 2013.

We've got a slew of earnings reports today. If they come in right, you're going to have another record for the Dow.

Meantime, a lot of attention on the pay in the fast-food industry. McDonald's gets a lot of attention, a lot of flack for pay for its workers, but a CNN Money special investigation shows Subway actually has the lowest pay among fast food.

Our money team analyzed data from the Department of Labor and found that Subway franchises were investigated more than 1100 times for violating Fair Labor Standards Act. Those investigations totaled 17,000 violations and resulted in nearly $4 million in fines. The next biggest offenders were McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.

But you know what? These are the jobs in America that are growing so strongly, which is why there is now so much attention on them. When you look at the jobs coming into the economy since the crash and recovery, the majority of them are low-paid jobs. So a lot of attention on just how low that pay and violations amongst some of the companies.

BERMAN: If I could change the subject, Christine Romans, riddle me this.

ROMANS: OK.

BERMAN: So yesterday, you know, the GDP comes out yesterday, anemic growth in the first quarter of last year.

ROMANS: Frozen.

BERMAN: Let it go, as I say, whenever you say frozen.

ROMANS: Frozen.

BERMAN: But .1 percent growth, anemic, yet the Dow hits a record high.

ROMANS: Yes, because --

BERMAN: Reconcile please.

ROMANS: Almost everyone thinks it was mostly the weather that held back growth in the first part of the year, at least that's what they're supposing now, and that the second quarter will be better.

We're going to have a jobs report on Friday. We could see solid job growth. That's what they're hoping, solid job growth, which would mean that very terrible frozen first quarter's in the rearview mirror.

BERMAN: Will you be covering the jobs report released live?

ROMANS: I will, live 8:30 Eastern on Friday.

BERMAN: The deep tease.

All right, folks, thanks for watching. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, the Malaysian government finally releasing its first report on what happened to Flight 370. What's in it? What's not in it? Our experts are here to break it down.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking overnight. Massive flooding from Florida to New York. Hundreds evacuated in Maryland and an apparent gas explosion at a Florida prison in the middle of it all.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Taking a break. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announcing that he is stepping away from his re-election campaign to seek help for addiction. This as the "Toronto Global Mail" says they have new video of him smoking crack this week.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. The Malaysian government set to release its first report on the disappearance of Flight 370.