Return to Transcripts main page


Flight 370 Data Released; Nigeria: We Know Where They Are; Bad Weather Today; Gun Battle in Ukraine

Aired May 27, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Now public. The satellite data officials say shows Flight 370's path over Malaysia and into the Indian Ocean. Families had demanded this data for months, but will it give them the answers they so desperately want?

We're breaking down just what this all means.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We know where they are. The new claim from Nigeria's military weeks after more than 200 girls were abducted from a school. This morning, there are new questions and a whole lot of doubt. We are live in Nigeria's capital with the latest on this search.

ROMANS: Dangerous storms take aim at millions this morning. Tornadoes, strong winds, heavy rain, all taking their toll serious damage, serious, from Texas to North Dakota. And guess what? There could be more bad weather today.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Great to see you today. It's Tuesday, May 27th, 4:00 a.m. in the East.

A whole lot of news developing overnight. We're on top of all of it, beginning with this. New information just made public about the final moments of Flight 370. This is information the families of missing passengers have pleaded for, for months.

Now, a breakdown of satellite data from that plane is in their hands. The fate of the plane and those on board now arguably the biggest unsolved mystery in aviation history. The big question, could this data that has finally been released be part of the key that unlocks this mystery?

Our aviation correspondent Richard Quest has been up all night poring through the data. He's been at the company that released the data, and give us, I think, unique insight into what it tells us. Richard joins us from Los Angeles.

Good morning, Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. There are 47 pages of data. They are the satellite logs. They show the last communications between the 777, the satellite and the ground station.

And crucially, what they have broken them down into several sections of flight. You've got the part before it took off. That's the area where you know where the plane is, you know the readings that you're expecting. You've then got the parts in the air and then the parts when the plane went missing.

And there are so-called up to six satellite handshakes. That's where the plane and the satellite are saying hello to each other. And it's on the basis of the timing and the frequency of that that they believe that the plane flew south into the south Indian Ocean.

Now, will this be enough for the families and the critics to basically say, yes, we understand what Inmarsat have done, and we are in agreement? I don't know it will be. There will be many people who will try to recreate this, but Inmarsat has not given sufficient information to do that, John. What they've done is give enough information that you can see, or one can see, how they came to the answer that they've come to.

BERMAN: They also didn't release the other analysis from, say, Rolls Royce or some of the other parties that were involved with poring through this data with them. I know that's something you focused on, Richard.

QUEST: I think that's the weakest point in that they're going to face. It's understandable at one level that they're not going to be able to publish all the data. You need to know about the modem on the plane, the various characteristics of the satellite, the ground station.

You'd effectively be publishing a book, if you like, if you tried to put all that information out. But what I think they may have done or could have done is say these are the other organizations that checked the work. They did their own models independently and came to the same result. And that they haven't done yet.

Now, we know the NTSB, the AAIB, we know Rolls Royce, we know Boeing, there are a whole variety of companies that have all worked with them on this. So far, none of those other bodies have been prepared to say, yes, we are the ones who verified Inmarsat's data.

BERMAN: And, finally, Richard, one piece of information that seems to be coming out of the analysis over the last few hours is the idea that this data explains now how they came to the conclusion that the flight ran out of fuel. Can you explain that to me?

QUEST: Well, you have the various data that shows these so-called handshakes. It's about page 38 or 39, if anybody's looking at it and wants to follow along. And those satellites -- and those handshakes continue until you get the last partial handshake.

Now, that is known as the endurance of the aircraft. In other words, that's a polite way of saying it's when it ran out of fuel. But as Mark Dickinson of Inmarsat told me, their biggest disbelief was, first of all, that the plane was still sending any form of data so many hours after it was believed to have been lost. And secondly, time and again, they have checked this.

I asked Inmarsat, could you be wrong? They said yes. They're prepared to consider they are wrong, but nobody's managed to prove on their data, using these numbers, that they are wrong.

BERMAN: All right, Richard Quest. Great to have you this morning. We'll check back in with you again.

What people are doing now is going over this data, trying to understand if it is telling us anything more than we already knew.

And coming up in just a few minutes, we're going to go live to Beijing where David McKenzie is following the family reaction to this data release. Now that it's public, what do they think and is it enough for them? So, stay with us for that.

ROMANS: All right. Now to Nigeria, where this morning, a top official says they now think they know where hundreds of kidnapped girls are being held. Those girls were abducted from a school more than a month ago. So far, other than this video you're watching here, there's been no sign of them.

Now, with an international team, including Americans, trying to track down these girls, Nigeria's warning a rescue may not be possible.

Arwa Damon live in Abuja, Nigeria, this morning for us. Arwa, make sense of this for us.

Nigerian officials now saying they think they know where the girls are being held but they're not sure a rescue is possible. What's the disconnect?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Those comments, Christine, were coming from the defense chief, Alex Badeh, and he was basically addressing a small crowd of protesters, saying, yes, they know where the girls are, they're not disclosing the information at this stage. That's understandable, operational security most certainly playing significantly into that decision, if, in fact, it is true.

A rescue operation not on the table at this stage, and that is because of the terrain that the girls might possibly be located in, but also because of the nature of Boko Haram, an organization so incredibly ruthless that there are very real and valid fears that should be captured, a sense that some sort of military operation is under way. They could begin executing these schoolgirls. Also, because of the difficulties of launching this kind of military operation, the girls could end up killed in some sort of crossfire. Important to note at this stage, Christine, that the U.S. is saying that they do not have solid evidence about the location of these girls. They do, however, have information and potential leads.

ROMANS: Can you give us an idea of what security is like in the area where they're looking for these girls, Arwa?

DAMON: Incredibly tenuous. This is Boko Haram territory, their heartland, the area where they were born, the northeastern part of the country, outside of major cities like the capital of Borno state. It is pretty much Boko Haram controls these lands.

And since these girls were kidnapped, despite the fact that there's been a beefed-up security presence -- that's according to the Nigerian authorities -- we're hearing Boko Haram attacks growing more frequent by the day, populations growing more fearful by the day, really feeling at this stage, and this is a sentiment echoed by the parents of those abducted schoolgirls, that the government is not doing enough. Much more needs to be done, not just to bring these girls back home safely, but to end the threat posed by Boko Haram once and for all, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Arwa Damon for us in Abuja. Thank you, Arwa.

BERMAN: About eight minutes after the hour right now.

A memorial service planned today in California as we learn new details about the man who took six lives in a senseless rampage. Police say Elliot Rodger recently fought with his roommates over noise in their apartment. They were three of his victims. They were found stabbed to death.

Also, investigators now say Rodger e-mailed a chilling 137-page manifesto to two dozen people minutes before gunning down three people and wounding 13 others. This morning, Richard Martinez, the father of one victim, is summoning his grief and reigniting a bitter debate over gun control.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Isla Vista, California.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This father's pain is unimaginable. This was his only child. He wants to talk because he says Washington is refusing to do so, refusing to listen, and he says Congress' inaction has led to this.

RICHARD MARTINEZ, VICTIM'S FATHER: Where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell is these people we elect to Congress and we spend so much money on? These people are getting rich sitting in Congress!

And what do they do? They don't take care of our kids! My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook! Those parents lost little kids!

It's bad enough that I lost my 20-year-old, but I had 20 years with my son!

LAH: Martinez says who is really talking about Sandy Hook? You can just replace the name Sandy Hook with Isla Vista now, and tomorrow it will be another town. And he says this will continue until there is a true national conversation and action about the proliferation of guns in America and the state of mental health.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Isla Vista, California.


ROMANS: A Memorial Day pledge from Vice President Biden, vowing to restore America's sacred obligation to care for veterans. The vice president speaking Monday at the sixth annual Ride to Recovery Memorial Day Bike Challenge amid the growing scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Twenty-six V.A. facilities now under investigation over allegations of veteran wait times. Biden pledging to do something about it.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only truly sacred obligation we have before every other obligation that exists in this country is to equip those of you who we send into harm's way and care for you when you come home and your families. That is a sacred obligation. And we're behind right now. The V.A. is having problems, and we've got to get to the bottom of it.


ROMANS: A handful of lawmakers have called for V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign over the issue. The White House is still standing by him.

BERMAN: Rescue teams expected to be back in western Colorado today, looking for three men missing after this just unbelievable landslide sent at least three miles of mud cascading down not far from the Utah border. The three included a county road worker and his son who traveled out to the region to check on damage from an earlier slide. That's when the ground just gave way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a sheer wall where it broke off of the mountain and it pushed an enormous amount of land, you know, a half a mile forward.


BERMAN: The sheriff says everyone is praying for a miracle, but the ground is so unstable right now, they don't want to risk more lives during the search.

ROMANS: A huge wildfire growing bigger in Alaska. The funny river fire -- wow, look at that -- now covers 248 square miles, forcing hundreds to evacuate, about 60 miles south of anchorage. The fire right now is 30 percent contained and authorities are hopeful some rain forecast for later today and tomorrow might help slow down the blaze.

BERMAN: For many in Texas, Memorial Day was something of a washout.


BERMAN: Not here in the Northeast, but in Texas it was ugly. Heavy rain falling on a big part of the state's Gulf Coast. These pictures from Victoria, not far from Corpus Christi, slammed with several inches of rain in just a few hours.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We looked outside and the rain was up to our sidewalk, close to our house. And in about 90 minutes, we had six inches of rain.


BERMAN: Closer to Houston, a lot of destruction there as wet ground and high winds tore down trees, sending them flying right into homes. Luckily at this point, no injuries have been reported.

ROMANS: Take a look at this incredible picture from North Dakota.

BERMAN: Oh, wow!

ROMANS: A tornado on the ground in Watford City, not far from Bismarck. This passed over the oil fields there.

BERMAN: Oh, my.

ROMANS: And then slammed into trailers at a camp housing oil workers. More than a dozen trailers were damaged. Nine people were hurt, one critically. Local officials say an earlier alert meant that most living there were able to get to safety before this tornado struck.

BERMAN: Just terrifying pictures.

All right. Let's get more on the storms and what to expect today.

Karen Maginnis tracking the forecast.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Christine, we saw severe thunderstorms erupt across a good portion of Texas. It's kind of wiped things out as far as the celebration goes for the memorial holiday.

And now, there's round two for Texas again! Look at this area where we've got shaded in yellow. We could see strong to severe thunderstorms, in places around Dallas to Galveston, all the way into Houston again. With scattered showers and storms expected across the Southeast, the mid-Atlantic, and yes, into the Northeast, but at least those temperatures are going to be warm. They'll be running about ten degrees above where they should be for this time of the year.

Look for 86 in New York City, 89 in Washington, D.C., 86 in Chicago, 84 in Minneapolis. That's way above where it should be. But they start to back off a little bit more by the middle of the workweek. We start to see some of that moisture again as these little ripples in the atmosphere kind of trigger those showers and storms. Some of them could be strong to severe.

And yes, Texas is still left in there on Wednesday for another round of showers and storms. High temperature Wednesday expected to be 65. Minneapolis is still warm at 85, 89 in Billings, Montana. And we're looking at 97 El Paso, and Seattle, showers and 60 degrees.

Back to you guys.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that.

Time for a look at -- that was the weather, now time to look at the money. Take the temperature of your money.

Stocks around the globe near record highs. The number to watch in the U.S. is 1,900 -- a little above 1,900. That would be a record on the S&P 500 and could be achieved again today.

We have elections behind us, the big story in world markets this morning. And Ukraine elections are behind us. The read this morning on CNN Money is that the election results show traditional left-center and right-center parties held the majority of seats in the parliament and Ukrainian voters seemed to be voting for more integration with Europe.

So, you've got Germany's DAX also near records. The E.U. leaders met today. They are set to discuss possible sanctions on Russia. There was a growing chorus of more radical groups in the E.U. winning, but the majority, looks like status quo.

"Reuters" obtained a copy of the memo detailing what those Russian sanctions could look like. On the low end, "Reuters" say the E.U. restrict luxury goods imports like Caviar and high end, the E.U. would move to stop importing Russian oil and gas entirely. Ukraine elected a new president over the weekend. Of course, he is voting to crack down -- vowing to crack down on Russian separatists.

So, that's the big story this morning, what it looks like in the E.U. parliament and what it looks like with the new president in Ukraine and what the ways going forward there with potential E.U. sanctions on Russia.

BERMAN: A lot of turmoil, though, overnight in Ukraine overnight as well. Gun battles on the streets there as militants fight security forces for control there of a very, very crucial airport. Peace shattered, that despite promises from the country's new president- elect. We're live with the latest there, next.


ROMANS: The fighting in eastern Ukraine shows no sign of easing up. Ukrainian forces are now trying to regain control of a major airport after it was seized by separatist gunmen, this as the new president- elect makes an ambitious vow to unite Ukraine after months of violent struggle.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has the latest from Donetsk -- Nick.

Nick, are you there? Tell us what's going on now. We know that now there's a new Ukrainian president-elect, but we also know there are those who are concerned that it's actual Russian military intervention in the eastern part of the country. What are you seeing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, what we're seeing today here, the first reports from separatist leaders that they lost 35 militants, they say, in the clashes yesterday, potentially a total of 100, including the injured as well here -- a stark admission. They also say that they claim to control part of the airport territory here.

And, of course, that is in contradiction with the Ukrainian government, who say they control all of it, although the spokeswoman I spoke to also said part of the territory is still under accept tuition control, so a mixed picture here, but yesterday we saw the strongest intervention as yet from the Ukrainian military here with jets, helicopters, heaviest clashes in fighting I've certainly seen since the crisis. We're still trying to work out what the death toll from that has been, but it's shaken people here significantly.

Partially a sign, perhaps, that the Ukrainian military has dropped that feeling of impotency we've seen over the last month, where nothing they did seemed to make any change. It seems yesterday the separatists crossed the red line of the airport and the Ukrainian government responded. But do we now today see in hand a response from the separatists themselves, an escalation on their part, or does this begin to shatter their ranks?

One small indication that the latter might be the case -- today, the Russian news agency reporting that the commander in a key town of Slaviansk among separatists has ordered two of his commanders shot dead, he says for looting in that case, according to the Russian media report, but that's the first sign, perhaps, of descension (ph) in the ranks here and the separatists are not necessarily communicating like they want to.

Interesting and intense days ahead here in a city which had thought, perhaps, it had escaped the worst of the violence during this unrest -- John.

ROMANS: All right. Interesting and intense, obviously audio issues. Thanks, Nick Paton Walsh.

You can take it from here, John.

BERMAN: I'm John, Christine. That's cool, though.

Interesting. Things seem to be devolving over there in the Ukraine.

ROMANS: You know, it is, and you're getting reports of who's acting in the eastern part of the country. Where are they from? Do they have the blessing of the Russian government? And it is dangerous, and as he said, a lot of misinformation on the ground. BERMAN: We'll check back in a little bit. Meanwhile, the demand of the information for months. Now families are poring over the just- released satellite data in search for Flight 370.

So, will this new data answer their questions? We're live in Beijing with what the families are saying right now. That's next.


BERMAN: Welcome back.

The families of missing Flight 370 passengers finally getting what they so desperately wanted for months. Satellite data released overnight, but will this information bring them the answers they want? Is this information everything they were even asking for? David McKenzie is in Beijing with how the families are reacting this morning.

Good morning, David.


I mean, the families are reacting in different ways. Some of them are happy that this information has come out, some of them disappointment that it's not exactly the level of detail they were hoping for. And others just say, well, it's irrelevant. It doesn't bring their loved ones back and they want the focus to be on the search for the plane.

But at this point, it's very difficult for many of the families to, in fact, trust the information that they're getting. Take a listen.


STEVE WANG, FAMILY MEMBER OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: What did they do for this more than two months? They haven't found anything. And we are suspicious from the first day that whether they are searching the right place, whether what they are telling us is true or not, because it is our loved ones who is on the plane. There is no direct evidence. We never believe it.


MCKENZIE: Well, without that direct evidence -- and that evidence they want is a physical piece of the plane or a photograph or something like that, John, that they can actually grasp intellectually. They say they won't really believe much of the information.

You know, it's been a very terrible and agonizing time for these weeks for the family members, first stuck in a hotel in Beijing for more than a month, then effectively forced out of that hotel home. They just want some answers, and they fear that these answers could be a long time coming with the search under water, at least, only going to be started again in several months' time, and then the process could take over a year. All they say they want is clarification, some kind of hard evidence, and they wanted this data so they could crunch the numbers themselves with their own experts, maybe to help them come up with those answers -- John.

BERMAN: Not much to hang on to, especially, as you say, with the underwater search essentially on pause for what could be a couple months here.

David McKenzie in Beijing -- thanks so much.

ROMANS: And we're going to have much more on this new data just released, coming up.

Also this story this morning, Nigeria's military now claiming it knows where hundreds of abducted schoolgirls are being held. Is the military telling the truth? And if so, why can't they go in and find them? We've got that after the break.