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EARLY START

Crisis in Ukraine; Finding Flight 370; Nigeria Asks U.S. for Help with Kidnapped Schoolgirls

Aired May 5, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mayhem in a key Ukrainian city. Militants attack a police station, set dozens of prisoners free. Protesters take to the streets with sticks and clubs, promising to defend their city.

Can the government at this point do anything to bring that country back together again? We are live in Ukraine with what's happening on the ground this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Heading for the next phase nearly two months after Flight 370 disappeared. Australia, Malaysia, China now starting to plan for a wider search of the Indian Ocean. We're live with details of what could be many more months under water.

BERMAN: We'll get them out. The new pledge this morning after hundreds of girls are captured by extremists and held hostage, as thousands rally around the world. The U.S. is promising help. We're live with what's happening right now to get them freed.

This is an outrage, folks. You need to pay attention to this.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Thirty minutes past the hour.

Let's start with the bloody struggle for Ukraine's third largest city deepening dramatically this morning. Hundreds of pro-Russian militants, hundreds, storming a police station Sunday, freeing dozens of fellow militants. Nearly 50 people in Odessa are dead after three days of violence. Ukraine is slipping further toward civil war.

Let's get the latest from Arwa Damon. She's live in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.

Certainly, very troubling developments over the weekend -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, and that prisoner breakout just illustrates how lawless this situation here has become and has the potential to become. In eastern Ukraine, we have also seen the pro-Russian camp take over even more buildings, despite the fact that the Ukrainian government has built up its own forces outside of key cities, is in the midst of this so-called antiterrorism operation.

We've seen a number of cases where the pro-Russian militants have effectively forced the local police force to do whatever it is that they wanted, confining them to their bases, coming up with negotiated agreements that see the government forces, the Ukrainian government forces, stay on their bases, and then the pro-Russian camp agreeing not to attack them.

So it's very clear who actually is the ultimate authority here. All of this, of course, raising fears and concerns that Russia could possibly begin to use the escalating violence as an excuse to launch its troops across the border.

Russia, of course, with tens of thousands of forces perched along the Ukrainian border, saying that they are there as part of a military drill but also continuing to maintain that it does have the right to protect its interests and protect the Russian-speaking population.

All of this, of course, Christine, is also just further polarizing people's sentiments and emotions. A lot of individuals we've been talking to over the weekend saying, look, with all of this violence, we can't trust the central government, we can't trust the people that have power in Kiev anymore. We do want our own, independent state, and those plans for that referendum going well ahead, the date that we're hearing is May 11th.

ROMANS: All right, May 11th. Arwa Damon, thank you -- Arwa.

BERMAN: Want to take you now to Rhode Island and a shocking accident at a circus. And a warning that what you're about to see is pretty graphic. This cell phone video shows nine acrobats crashing to the ground at a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey performance in Providence.

There, it just happened right there. The women were dangling by their hair under the big top when something obviously went terribly wrong. They all fell. In total, 11 people, including all 9 of the acrobats, were hurt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see them, it was -- they were doing acrobats with their hair. And all of a sudden, it was like eight girls, and all of a sudden, it just, boom, it just falls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chandelier, the metal bracket that they were actually attached to just dissembled from the main bracket and it tumbled right on top of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an organization that is very concerned about safety, safety of their animals and their performers. So, you know, this is -- comes to a shock not only to the performers but to the circus itself and certainly to the staff here at the building.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: The circus says it takes the health of its performers seriously and carefully inspects all the equipment. Right now the circus is working with the city of Providence to try to figure out what happened.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, severe turbulence leaving six people hurt on a US Airways jet flying from Philadelphia to Orlando. This happened right after takeoff. The airbus jet was climbing. Passengers say, suddenly, they fell hard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minutes into the flight, all of a sudden, we just feel this boom, and the plane felt like it dropped 20 feet down. Shoes were flying, cell phones were flying, people were screaming, and it was very, very, very scary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Four passengers and two flight attendants were injured. The airline is not revealing the nature of the injuries, but a passenger says one woman hit her head on the ceiling. Most of the passengers, most of them continued on to Orlando.

BERMAN: The next phase for the search for Flight 370 coming into focus this morning. Officials say they need more sophisticated equipment to get a better look at the ocean floor. They're also dramatically expanding the search zone, insisting they still believe they're looking in the right place, however.

Let's go live now to Kuala Lumpur and bring in Will Ripley.

Will, give us a sense of where they're headed now.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, John, from a very stormy Kuala Lumpur. This is the city where that international team of experts worked so hard in the days and weeks after the plane disappeared to calculate where they feel MH-370's flight ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.

And now we have just learned overnight that just within the next two days or so, those same experts are going to be flying to Canberra, Australia, where they're going to take a look at all of the data once again to make sure, absolutely sure, that they're still looking for this plane in the right place.

We continue to hear a lot of confidence, not only from the Australian search chief, but the acting transport minister in Malaysia and the Chinese transport minister as well, but you can understand why there is some natural skepticism, some natural questions out there, considering that 4.6 million square kilometers have already been searched, thousands of hours have been spent in the air, and yet, not a single piece of the plane has turned up yet.

But listen to the Australian deputy prime minister talking about why that may not necessarily mean the plane isn't not in the area where they're looking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN TRUSS, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, AUSTRALIA: It is disappointing that we've had no debris that has led us to this wreckage. It's also interesting to note that the search in the area we have concentrated on began quite a number of days after the aircraft had disappeared. The likelihood that if there was debris floating, it had drifted to the bottom of the ocean before we even began our search.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: So there's now a massive search effort that needs to get under way, and those meetings in Australia will also determine the best way to search this huge area of the ocean floor. They're talking about 23,000 square miles. And if you put it in perspective, all of the Bluefin's 18 missions so far, John, have searched just 154 square miles. So, clearly, they have a lot of ground to cover and a lot of decisions to make about how to do it the most effectively.

BERMAN: Will, you know what, I'm going to let you go because there is a dramatic lightning storm happening right behind you right now. I want to make sure you're safe.

Thanks for being with us this morning. I really do appreciate the latest on the search for Flight 370.

ROMANS: His poise is noteworthy.

BERMAN: It's unflappable, that guy.

ROMANS: He's totally focused.

BERMAN: Not flinching, and I'm seeing lightning after lightning strike right behind him there.

ROMANS: Thanks, Will. Thanks for that report.

In South Korea this morning, rescue crews hoping to recover more bodies from a capsized ferry. It has been 20 days since that ship sank. The death toll now stands at 260 with 42 people still missing.

On Sunday, South Korea's president met with family members awaiting word on their loved ones. Many of those on board, of course, were high school students. The investigation is now focused on whether human error by the crew was to blame for the sinking.

BERMAN: In Afghanistan, authorities have ended their efforts to find victims from a devastating landslide. More than 2,000 people, some 300 homes are believed to have been buried when the land gave way in a rural northeastern province.

Officials there have now declared that site a mass grave. President Obama has expressed his condolences to Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and offered continued support. ROMANS: Fire crews in Oklahoma trying to get the upper hand on a deadly wind-driven wildfire north of Oklahoma City. So far this blaze has burned through at least 20 homes and some four miles of rural farmland, killing one man who wouldn't evacuate. Ranchers racing to get their herds out of the way at this hour. Officials say the fire's growing so fast, it's hard to tell exactly how many acres have been consumed.

BERMAN: Yes, the wind and the heat dangerous, dangerous conditions out there.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: Let's get the latest on that from Indra Petersons.

ROMANS: Hi, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Yesterday we were talking about temperatures soaring to near record-breaking, 20 degrees above normal, guys, single-digit humidities, winds are gusting 30, 35 miles per hour, and unfortunately today is going to be no different. We're still looking at an elevated fire danger out there, critical fire danger just a little farther west, out towards Vegas and Flagstaff.

So what are they looking today? Temperatures still about 20 degrees above normal, winds especially expected to gust 30, 35 miles per hour. All of this thanks to that jet stream lifting to the north. So definitely a lot of heat expected into the southern plains today. Two little pockets of cool air, one is going to be of course in the pacific northwest. A little bit of showery nature for them, also into the northeast today.

But that's going to be a big story because you get all this warm air again, and you get this cool air by the middle of the week, once they get close to each other, we are going to have to be watching for the threat of another severe weather outbreak, so be looking for that by the middle of the week.

What we look at first, temperatures, look at this. We're talking about above normal, not a little bit here. Wichita 93 today. Notice what happens by tomorrow, 100 degrees. This is a 25 degrees above normal.

Look at Chicago, 50s today, 60s tomorrow. And then by the middle of the week, look at that heat spread in. We're talking about 80s. So definitely a lot of record-breaking heat is potentially going to be out there. We're going to see that huge clash by the middle of the week as that system kind of cruises across.

Just keep in mind, northeast today, maybe around Virginia, West Virginia, maybe just south of D.C., a couple of showers expected overnight tonight, but I think the heat's going to be the big story throughout the week.

ROMANS: All right, Indra, thank you. PETERSONS: Sure.

ROMANS: All right. This morning, more than 200 girls, 200 girls being held by militants in Nigeria, as thousands rally now around the world. The U.S. is promising more help, but is this attention now too little too late? We're live with the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. We'll get them out. In the face of international outrage, the president of Nigeria now vowing to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic militants last month. And this morning, he's calling on the White House for help.

Vladimir Duthiers has the latest live from Lagos this morning.

New attention on this, international outrage. A campaign to rescue these girls has gone viral around the world. What is the president of Nigeria saying he can do now to try to get them out?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christine. Well, it's been three weeks since these girls were abducted in the middle of the night from their dormitory classrooms in a remote corner of Nigeria, Borno State, the village of Chibok. The president appearing last night on television, essentially saying that we will get these girls out, but also admitting that he didn't know where they were.

If somebody's looking at a map, you can see that this area of Nigeria is a very remote corner of the country. It borders Cameroon. This is considered a Boko Haram stronghold. Boko Haram is the group that authorities are saying may have been responsible for this abduction.

Now this is a group whose aim is to establish Islamic law across Nigeria. In the past, they've burned churches, mosques, attacked schools and police barracks and government buildings. This time, their target, young girls, 200-plus girls gone missing in the middle of the night.

Residents that we've spoken to on the ground, the parents of the missing children say that to their eyes, they have not yet seen any kind of significant military presence or police presence or search- and-rescue operations to bring these girls home. They say, in fact, that they've risked their own lives, grabbing sticks, stones, machetes, anything that they can get their hands on to go themselves into the bush to try and rescue their daughters, their sisters. So far, unsuccessful.

The president, on the other hand, saying that he's confident that they will bring these girls home. But even as remarks yesterday left a lot of people scratching their heads as to what's next -- Christine.

ROMANS: So, I mean, obviously, you think about a child asleep in a dormitory and then being snatched away with all of her, you know, school friends, parents having no idea where they are, if they're even still in that country. To a lot of us, we think, why wouldn't the government mount military assaults and take these children back immediately. There are huge security challenges in this country. That's part of the problem here, right?

DUTHIERS: Yes. In fact, this area is considered, as I said, a Boko Haram stronghold. They do control to many people this forest where they are believed to be encamped with these girls. If you launch a military operation, there's a chance that they may harm the children. If you -- you can obviously use air strikes, which they've done in the past.

But as you said, at the end of the day, this story is about parents sending their children to a part of -- this is a part of the state which is the least educated region within Nigeria, so sending children to school to get an education in a country where these opportunities are few and far between is something that parents aspire to around the world.

And to wake up one morning and to find out that your child was taken in the middle of the night, and then to bear that and then also have to deal with the fact that your government isn't doing anything, as far as you can tell, to bring them home. It's something that I don't think anybody can imagine they wouldn't want to -- Christine.

ROMANS: Vladimir Duthiers, thank you -- Vladimir.

BERMAN: The fact this has gone on for three weeks is simply unbelievable.

ROMANS: I know. And you know, two of these girls -- a Nigerian newspaper published interviews with two of the girls who escaped. So 200 girls taken. Two of these girls escaped, talking about, you know, giving the play-by-play of the abduction, talking about just how desperate the whole situation was, just horrific.

BERMAN: Too long. Something needs to happen.

All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us this morning.

ROMANS: Hey, Chris.

BERMAN: Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Good morning, J.B., Christine. We're going to dig a little deeper on that Nigerian situation. As you said, three weeks, these girls are still missing. Unacceptable. We'll get into that.

We also have some scary stories overnight that we're going to talk to you about. This plane on the way from Philadelphia to Orlando, six people wind up injured, a forced landing. What happened? What was going on? We have passengers who were on board. They'll tell us.

Also, another scary story. A circus. We all love to go, take our kids. We know there's danger involved, but look at what happened. These performers, they're hanging from their hair. It's called the human chandelier. They plummet to the ground, all of them seriously injured. Was this a one-off or is there something going on with Ringling Brothers that really needs to be changed right away? We're going to talk with a performer who knows the act very well, as well as the spokesman for Ringling Brothers, and we'll test the theory of whether it's safe enough there.

We'll take that on and of course, all the news as it happens, my friends. We'll have it here on "NEW DAY."

BERMAN: Great to see you. Congratulations on the Knicks this weekend in the playoffs, too, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Listen, you are celebrating the New Jersey Nets because they have former Celtics on it, J.B.

BERMAN: The truth. The truth. He -- he blocked the shot in there, Paul Pierce.

CUOMO: I thought you were congratulating me because -- I thought you were congratulating me because of my son's communion, which was on Saturday, but far it be from you to be actually sentimental. Where's my coffee?

BERMAN: Congratulations to you and your family and to the New York Knicks, who are at home right now enjoying.

This morning, Oscar Pistorius back in a courtroom facing murder charges in the shooting death of his girlfriend. The case nears its conclusion with the defense arguing for innocence. We are live with what's happening right now. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Happening now in South Africa, the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius back under way, two weeks after it took a little break because of national holiday, and so the lawyers for both sides could get some work done on other cases they had.

The defense is now presenting its witnesses and arguing that Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend by mistake. It could take several more weeks of testimony before this all wraps up and the judge makes her decision in this case.

ROMANS: She insists she is an owner, too. Shelly Sterling, the wife of Donald Sterling, speaking out about the future of the L.A. Clippers. In a statement, she says she supports efforts to find a new CEO for the team, but she made clear she's not going anywhere and intends to play an active role going forward.

Her husband has been banned from the league for racist remarks. The league is trying to force him to sell the team.

BERMAN: So this morning, researchers say they found a potential new way to reverse aging. It involves blood and mice. So they put the blood of young mice into older mice and discovered that some of the effects of aging were reversed. The older mice suddenly ran mazes much faster. And for younger mice, the older blood seemed to make them age prematurely.

Of course, this is far from being used on humans, but researchers say it is a promising area that could have implications for Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

ROMANS: I mean, for centuries, for centuries, philosophers and doctors and medical people, you know, young blood, that's always been kind of, you know, the fountain of youth.

BERMAN: And Keith Richards.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: We're going to get a check of the markets and what you need to know from Wall Street this Monday morning, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Stocks are down. London markets are closed for a bank holiday. Dow futures pointing to a lower open on Wall Street. You know, the jobs report Friday was the best we've seen in two years, but really failing to impress investors. Stocks closed lower Friday. The Dow now down ever so slightly for the year.

Warren Buffett hosted his annual shareholder meeting this weekend in Omaha. Buffett is a big proponent of housing as driving the economic recovery. A big factor in the economic comeback. He weighed in on that this weekend saying that housing isn't coming back as quickly as he had hoped. Recent home data -- home price data shows the recovery may even be slowing, but Buffett says he's not worried. In true Buffett fashion, here's why he's bullish on housing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: Hormones are still out there and it will cause people to form families and families that are formed will get tired of living with their in-laws. I mean, you've got a little -- you've got some things going for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: You've got some things going for you. Hormones and housing, as only Warren Buffett can say it so he thinks that we're going to have more family creation, which will mean more home ownership, which will mean that the housing market --

BERMAN: Warren Buffett, there is no aphrodisiac like Warren Buffett.

(LAUGHTER)

That's what I like to say, nothing sexier than Warren Buffett.

All right. That's it for us today. "NEW DAY" starts now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Climbing, climbing, climbing, and there was a huge job. The lady three rows in front of me, she bashed her head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, a US Airways flight has a major air scare. Six injured and the plane forced to land immediately. What happened up there? We hear from those on board the terrifying flight.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: On the brink. The violence in eastern Ukraine hits a new level. Dozens killed as clashes, protests, even jailbreaks spread across the region. We're live on the front lines.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: What went wrong? A horrible accident caught on tape. Circus performers plunging from two stories high, nearly a dozen injured as horrified spectators watch on. We have the latest for you.

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. It is Monday, May 5th, also known as Cinco de Mayo. 6:00 in the east. And we do have breaking news overnight.

Terrified U.S. Airways passengers describing the fear that their plane was going down. The pilot was forced to turn the Orlando bound plane back .