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Historic Flooding in Southeast Causes Evacuations and Damage; Malaysia Releases Flight 370 Report

Aired May 1, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, May 1st, 8:00 in the East.

Breaking overnight: extreme weather won't let up, leaving millions to face record-breaking storms all along the East Coast. The Gulf Coast was hit with some of the worst of it. In Pensacola, Florida, almost two feet of rain fell, washing away parts of homes and leaving much of the city flooded.

Also overnight, a suspected gas explosion at a county jail there killed two inmates, injured 100 more. We are covering it from North to South for you this morning.

First, let's get to CNN's Ed Lavandera who's outside that Florida jail with the very latest -- Ed.


Well, you can see the building behind me. This is the jail, if you look on that green part of the building, you can see the force of this blast has forced that building to buckle. We looked on the backside of the building, and the force of this blast blew out parts of the walls on the back of the jail as well.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Breaking news overnight, day four of a catastrophic storm system in the Southeast is now barreling up the Eastern Seaboard threatening millions more.

Officials have issued flood warnings from Florida to New York with six inches of rain predicted in some parts of the Northeast. City streets are already submerged.

In Maryland, several thousand gallons of water rushed into a town 20 miles south of Baltimore after a breach in the dam, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Water started coming through a joint in the dam. So, the water was basically coming to the dam, from the backside to the front side, and eroding away some of the soil on the front side. LAVANDERA: In Baltimore, the deluge so heavy that it caused a massive landslide on one roadway sending a half dozen cars tumbling into a ravine.

In the Southeast, an explosion caused a roof to collapse in a county jail in the Florida panhandle, injuring hundreds of inmates. It's not known if flooding in the area played a role yet. You can hear the roar of the violent flood waters on Wednesday spawned by nearly 20 inches of rainfall in only 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a result of storms yesterday, there was extensive flooding in this building.

LAVANDERA: It's not known if flooding in the area played a role yet. You can hear the record of the violent floodwaters on Wednesday spawned by nearly 20 inches of rainfall in only 24 hours.

INDRA PARADIS, PENSACOLA RESIDENT: In an hour, everything just started gushing in.

LAVANDERA: Flooding over 5 feet in some areas forcing hundreds of rescues.

In Mobile, Alabama, a dramatic moment as flood waters trapped one man, barely able to cling to a tree before he's rescued.

The town of Orange Beach, Alabama, almost completely flooded, its local marina now under water.

And in Pensacola, Florida, the torrential rains washed out part of the scenic highway, sending cars plummeting into a ditch.

GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA: It's just unbelievable the amount of flooding we've had because I went to one home where the foundation was gone.

LAVANDERA: And leaving the entire neighborhoods in the city inundated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've lived here 20 years. I've never seen this happen anywhere in the city like this.


LAVANDERA: And now, this is something else that investigators and emergency officials here in Pensacola have to deal with, cleaning this up. There was a great deal of water where we were, where we're standing here now, Chris. That water had gotten into the building.

As we mentioned, they're trying to figure out if the floodwaters is what might have caused the explosion or led to the explosion here in Pensacola -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Let us know what you find out, Ed. Twenty inches in 24 hours, that is amazing. And right now, the Northeast is bracing for more heavy rainfall. By rain, we mean street flooding, cars sinking, historic, dam-breaking amounts of rain. Overnight, hundreds of people were forced to evacuate a city in Maryland after a dam literally opened up, sending water gushing. This morning the tri-state area waking up to dangerous flooding.

Let's get to Indra Petersons live in Queens, New York.

Indra, it's looking like you're going to need that raincoat again before long.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's definitely not good news and the tri-state area is waking up to flood watches across the region, and for good cause. Take a look right now here in Queens. They're waking up to flood warnings because residents are waking up to sights like this, water so high, several feet high, that is making roads completely impassable.

Now, it may look to the naked eye like this is just water. You get a little closer here and you'll notice this is actually sewage. I spoke to a lot of the residents. They said last night, the water was so high that their cars were completely submerged.

Now, the water has gone down just a little more, but keep in mind, they were seeing those sewers flooding and that water was going into the basements of their homes. Several feet high is actually what they're still dealing with this morning of sewage into their -- excuse me, sewage into their basements.

So, what are we looking at today? Yes, more rain expected in the forecast as we go through the afternoon today. No, not as much as what we saw, but several more inches of rain where many areas are still experiencing flooding, never a good thing when you see this tri- state area already looking like this.

CUOMO: All right. Indra, we'll be back to you.

We do have breaking news. This is the moment we've been waiting for. If you're following the search for Flight 370, the Malaysian authorities have released their first report on what happened.

Let's get live right away to Kuala Lumpur. Will Ripley is there with the news. What do we know, Will? What do you see?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris. Yes, this is the five- page report I have in my hand right now. We just printed it out.

And I have to say, as I'm scanning through it, as we have been saying, there really are no big surprises here. It lays out in detail the time frame of MH370's takeoff, the flight and then the disappearance as we know it. So, it talks about the transponders switched off, the last radio communication at 1:19 a.m., the "Good night Malaysian 370" that we talked so much, and it talks about the satellite communication, those six hourly handshakes that we have also reported about. One thing at the end of the report on the bottom of page 4 and 5, it has some safety recommendations. It talks about the fact that -- I'm going to read to you here -- "While commercial transportation airport spend considerable amounts of time operating over remote areas, there is currently no requirement for real-time tracking of these aircraft, and there have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing, and their last position was not accurately known. It goes on to say it is recommended the International Civil Aviation Organization examine the safety benefits of introducing a standard for real-time tracking of commercial air transport aircraft.

In other words, it's saying that what needs to happen to prevent MH370 from happening again is that we need to find a better way to track these planes when they're in the air over these remote areas like MH370 was where it literally was able to vanish. Here we are nearly eight weeks into this search and still not one single piece of the plane.

What this report does not include, though, is a lot of answers to the questions we've been asking. Specifically what is it about the satellite data, the Inmarsat satellite data that that makes investigators so confident that MH370 is sitting in this corner of the Indian Ocean and not somewhere else?

We were hoping this report might explain why, why there's so much confidence that MH370 is in this search zone where they've been searching so long, Chris, and haven't found a single piece of the plane or any evidence that the plane is there.

CUOMO: All right. Will, thank you very much.

Let's assess if the Malaysians put their best foot forward in this situation. What's in it, what's not?

We turn to CNN aviation correspondent and all-around knowledgeable man on this, Richard Quest.

First question to you, Richard. You've got the report in your hand, to question that the safety recommendations matter. It is an entirely separate issue and one of the main reasons we keep following this story, because after 9/11, the idea that an aircraft could just disappear and not be tracked is a dangerous proposition.

So, that's in there. That's good.

What else do you see in the report that is relevant to the search?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It is important to state right at the outset that the report meets the requirements of ICAO. It's meant to be a basic assessment of the core facts known at this particular juncture. And there's no question at all that this meets that standard.

CUOMO: Because? QUEST: Because it tells us what basically happens. The plane took off. The plane -- let's see if we can get this thing up and running. So what does it tell us? It tells us one, the plane took off. It tells us where it went, the direction, and tells us that it was missing.

CUOMO: So that's like the duh factor.

QUEST: That is the duh factor.

CUOMO: So what else does it do?

QUEST: And that is what we've got from this report. If we take a look at actually some of the things that it doesn't tell us, we can actually get a little bit more information.

Let's take this one over here. Clear that out from earlier. What it doesn't tell us is who did what, where, when and why on the night. It does not reveal -- and we're waiting for more documents which I believe are going to come out in the next hour, they're putting a lot of appendices with this.

The report itself does not go into details about why Kuala Lumpur missed it when it says it right here, it fell off radar. It fell off radar -- 1:21, it was observed on radar. At 1:21:13, the radar disappeared.

CUOMO: Which means?

QUEST: Which means literally that's when the transponder was switched off. We don't know. There's a 13-minute gap before Vietnam said, hang on. Where's that plane? A 13-minute gap before Vietnam said, we haven't seen MH370. Where is it?

And then we get to what I think is probably the biggest issue of what this report doesn't say. What I'm calling the four-hour gap. For four hours, air traffic control between Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, they were all talking to each other trying to find the plane. The report makes it clear between 1:38 and 5:30 local time, they were all saying, where's the plane?

But nobody -- nobody started the rescue coordination center.

CUOMO: Where's the period -- is that within the period when they scrambled planes?

QUEST: They didn't.

CUOMO: So that was before.

QUEST: But what we also know from the prime minister is that during that four-hour gap, while the plane is going this way, Malaysian military is monitoring it. And what the report doesn't tell us yet -- and I need to see various documents that have come out with it, because they are releasing a lot more documents than just this report, I've been told, we need to know, in that so-called -- remember, we're calling it the four-hour gap -- in the four-hour gap, were Malaysian military involved in discussing?

CUOMO: But don't they say that they scrambled planes? Doesn't the military say that?


CUOMO: Somebody said it. We were reporting it. Somebody had said they scrambled jets and they said no, there were planes, but they did scramble them in this direction.

QUEST: No. Not during the time.

CUOMO: So that was after?

QUEST: Only after the 0530. Only after the 0530 when the plane is now known as missing and the coordination center.

But here's the really awful fact about this whole business. This is what needs to be brought in mind. At 0530, the rescue coordination center is activated, 0530. This plane is still flying. It's flying thousands of miles further south. And it continues to fly for another 2 1/2 hours.

So, not only have you got a four-hour gap, you've got 2 1/2 hours after that where the plane is still flying and nobody knows where it is. And the biggest issue is going to be, in this part of the investigation, this. Who knew what in the four-hour gap?

CUOMO: And you also have Diego Garcia over there, right, which is the U.S. intel outpost that they have that supposedly has surveillance technology. The plane flew by it also.

QUEST: It's not unusual for there to be a gap of several hours when a plane goes missing. You know, I call you. You call them. They call them.

Have you seen such -- what about that? And everybody goes and has a cup of tea and then comes back and says, no, I haven't seen them. Have you? It's not unusual.

But after Air France 447, to have four hours of a gap when nobody seems to have said, where is this plane? It's four hours without contact. And what this report does not do -- and I think is deficient in not doing --

CUOMO: Hold on a second. The last and most important point at this juncture, before they have their appendices and most legitimate question for you for the rest of the day, because we're setting the table, why are they adding to the appendices when they've had plenty of time to release it? Is this -- are they not filling in your gap because they don't know or because they don't want to fill in the gap or want us to know?

That's a key question.

QUEST: It's a key question, absolutely. Absolutely the tick tock in our language of who said what to whom in that four-hour gap -- it might have had no effect on the final result. By the time this happened, the plane was somewhere down there.

CUOMO: It matters for the accountability of process.

QUEST: No question, it matters for the accountability because as they say in their recommendations, you know, for a plane to go missing is pretty unconscionable. But as the Australian prime minister says, in this day and age, for a plane to go missing.

So, for the fact that it can be missing for four hours before the rescue and coordination center, and we don't know if Malaysian military spotted it doing that, that, I think, is going to be key in this whole question now.

BERMAN: All right. And that's where we begin, really, with this now for the rest of the day. We'll see what the appendices are. You'll be going through it. Richard, thank you very much.

Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to continue to pore through the Malaysian authorities' authority and the appendices, some of the key information is that we might get.

We're going to ask our experts if they think the report offers any new clues. Where do they go from here?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Breaking news we're continuing to follow at this hour. The Malaysian government has just released its initial report on the disappearance of Flight 370.

Let's continue to break it down. We have now documents just coming into our inboxes right now. Let's break it down with Miles O'Brien, CNN aviation analyst and science correspondent for PBS, and David Soucie, CNN aviation analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash", joining us.

Gentlemen, I know you're going through these documents as we are. Let's first get your initial reaction and then go through some of the information that is coming out.

Miles, you said for me to prepare to be underwhelmed. Are you underwhelmed?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I'm seeing some detail which is helpful. And put this in the category of beyond a preliminary report, which is good. Basically, a preliminary report in the NTSB model investigation comes out a few days after. And it states the very basic facts.

And if they really had stuck to that, you know, three-day post incident kind of model, we would have gotten a lot less information.

I'd put this in the category of more intermediate type of report, not final, and it does provide a lot more detail about the route. I don't know if you can bring up that map.

BOLDUAN: Yes, let's put up that map. And I hope this is the map you're talking about as well, Miles.

From what I can gather, I think that's maybe five possible routes that they believe the plane may have taken South. Is that what you're looking at?

O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes, and what it does is -- and it looks like it provides much more specificity on the exact points at which radar interrogated this aircraft. I don't know if you can zoom in on that on the air, but it indicates the last air defense radar point. And then it indicates what their suppositions are on speed and their -- the time.

And I'm trying to see if they're just using guesses on the speed. But the point is, it provides a lot of information as to how they derive these -- the highest, lowest and mid probability areas. The highest probability area being the red box, low being yellow, mid being green, and that matches where the initial and now current search is -- the current search being in the red box area. And it does provide some information on the speed and altitude which they used to derive all of this. That's helpful.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it is helpful.

David Soucie, come and join us on this conversation.

In the reports that you have looked through in the past, is this typical? Because as I first saw this map, it kind of looked like one of those spaghetti models that our meteorologists use when we're kind of trying to track a hurricane as it's heading closer to shore.

Is this kind of a model showing the possibilities of where the routes could be and they're helping us out here, trying to zoom in. Is that typical to see?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: You know, it would be in any kind of a search operation, but typically by now, you would have found, by the time the 30-day report comes out, you would have found an aircraft. This search is -- this is the key piece of the data. So therefore the key piece of the data should be in the preliminary report.

But there is something that's very interesting to me in this report, the information that we didn't have before, which is the 40 degrees. They say that the pings -- or that the locator on the Inmarsat data gave us 40 degrees from the satellite.

Now, in my opinion, that really increases my confidence in this information. The reason is that at 40 degrees, what they're saying is this arc was derived from a 40-degree angle from the satellite, meaning that they now exactly what this came from that spot. That's incredibly encouraging for me and raises my confidence degree with that information.

So, that's very important to me, and it really reinforces that it's there.

BOLDUAN: Now, that's getting technical, but that's kind of where we are in this. And that's what -- no, I'm glad you're bringing it up. That's the kind of information that as I understand it has been lacking to this point. Folks have not been -- they have not been giving us the reasoning why they are so confident in the Inmarsat data in how they have used a new way of calculating never before used to try to figure out the path of this plane.

Is that what this 40-degree angle is helping you better understand?

SOUCIE: Well, the 40-degree angle is not new. The 40-degree angle from the satellite is something that's known. What wasn't known and what's new is using Doppler-effect radar to determine whether it was the north/south, north or south route, and to earn did the degree at which the points relate to themselves.

So, again, it's getting very technical and hard to explain without talking about Asmussen and triangulations and things like that. If you visualize this satellite in space and you draw this being zero and you draw 40 degrees down from the satellite and then that comes down to the earth. So, 40 degrees and then you draw a circle at 40 degrees from the satellite, that's going to tell you where these arcs are.

And then the radar -- or excuse me, the Doppler effect is telling you how far from that it is. So you've got this information. You've got that information. Now you can plot out where that aircraft went based on how short or long these distances were.

BOLDUAN: And bottom line, David, this is really --

SOUCIE: This is extremely important.

BOLDUAN: And bottom line, this is really starting to give us a hint of how they've reached some of their conclusions which is very helpful, which has been lacking. As we were talking, David, I think we had another map that I want to pull up. And I want to get your take on it, Miles. We can throw that back up.

This is another map that they have just released. And I'm seeing this for the first time as well. Pardon me. So I'm going to walk into this map. Miles, what do you see? I see a whole lot of timestamps, and I'm not understanding why.

O'BRIEN: OK. While you were talking -- not that your conversation wasn't stimulating, but I was looking at this -- it's really interesting because it shows the exact points at which -- they painted it with radar. You see at 1722, upper right, last civil radar point. And then it goes updated last defense radar point at 18:22 is all the way far left there. And then it shows this turn, which it doesn't indicate it's being painted by radar, but it shows that southerly turn there which it's unclear to me what they're using to derive that except maybe they're juxtaposing against the Inmarsat.

BOLDUAN: Yes, then the pings come into play, maybe.

O'BRIEN: Right. Go to the bottom. It's more clearly stated there. Three-speeds that they used, speeds and altitudes range, differentials to come up with these potential locations for search.

BOLDUAN: Uh-huh.

O'BRIEN: Three hundred thirty-two knots, 344 knots, 350 knots. And so, if you go to page 3 now, if you could, and you'll see -- you'll see where that leads you. If you use those three-speed equations with an altitude of 30,000 feet or in one case, they measure it at 15,000 feet.

So, I don't know where they came up with these speeds and altitudes, but I think what they're basically assuming a certain altitude which is red-line speed, which is how fast you want to fly the airplane given the altitude. They've got 30,000 feet. They've got 15,000 feet. And they have 3,000 feet.

So, red-line speed for those three altitudes and that's what gives you red, yellow and green boxes. The highest probability area, which is where the search is occurring, assumes 323 knots, a range of 2,700 nautical miles and 30,000 feet.

So, they've determined that -- you know, we've heard so much about altitude. They've decided that this altitude and speed is the perfect equation which puts us on the spot where, number one, the last Inmarsat ping is located, and number two, the pings -- and sorry to confuse you using ping twice --


O'BRIEN: Inmarsat handshake, we'll say. And then the pings from the black box is in that same location.

BOLDUAN: That's why we've got this highest probability area.

O'BRIEN: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: We've heard Angus Houston use that terminology a lot. So I assume that is why he's using the term highest probability area. I've heard him use that over and over whenever he's spoken to the media.

Question on the altitude that you bring up, the altitude has been kind of a bit of a wild card throughout, I think --

O'BRIEN: To say the least, yes.

BOLDUAN: To say the least, especially in the northern part. In the northern part of the route, kind of a little earlier on, were they at 35,000? Were they at 12,000? Do the maps tell us, confirm any of that for us in regard to that?

O'BRIEN: Well, here's what you have to understand. The best military radars that are capable of identifying altitude, you can go back to page 2 if you want. We can talk about this.


O'BRIEN: The best military radars in the world, you know, the U.S. do-line radars, if you will, are pretty much plus or minus 3,000 feet or so.

BOLDUAN: So, not so accurate.

O'BRIEN: Not so accurate. Now, you have to assume, frankly, that the radar system, the military radar system in both Malaysia and Indonesia, you know, they're not prime for, you know, some sort of Cold War threat here.