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Malaysia Airlines Flight Shot Down

Aired July 18, 2014 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: That's a large piece of what it was, the Malaysia Airlines 777, flight 17 inside that wreckage, the remains of a single life, human remains were everywhere. White ribbons mark the place where they came to rest after a missile blew their plan from the sky.

They lie in a war zone, of course and tonight because of that, more than a day after the fact they lie there still, there are other images, most of which we can none and would never show you, they're simply to horrific. There's the ugly fact that a weapon of war brought down a civilian jet and due to it, America is already tense relationship with it's former co-war adversary is getting tenser still. We're going to cover all the angles in the hour ahead, we'll take you live to CNN's Phil Black, who was the only correspondent to have access to the crash site and we will as always take time and great care to remember the lives, to honor the lives of the men, women and the children of flight 17.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think as of our boarding and (inaudible).


COOPER: Images from inside Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 before take off yesterday as the 298 passengers and crew prepare for their 11 hour journey to Kuala Lumpur. The consensus surface to air missile from Eastern Ukraine down to commercial jet. Who is responsible for the act is still unknown.

But take a look at this video released by the Ukrainian government, it looks to show a bulk missile system, the same kind believed to have shutdown the plane driving through pro-Russian territory in Ukraine, heading towards Russia. Look closely, notice one missile missing. The video said to have been taken just after the plane was shutdown.

A senior defense official tells CNN the working theory is that Russia provided pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine with the antiaircraft missile system that took down the jet. President Obama declined to place direct blame on anyone party but have strong words for his Russian counter part.


BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, 44TH AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The violence that's taking place there is facilitated in part, in large part because of Russian support and they have the ability to move those separatist in a different direction. If Mr. Putin makes a decision that we are not going to allow heavy armament and the flow of fighters into Ukraine across the Ukrainian Russian border, then it will stop.


COOPER: The Ukrainian government continues to blame both Russia and separatist for the incident, calling it an act of terrorism. In releasing audio recordings intercepted, they say, "The rebel is talking about taking down an aircraft, just after the plane crashed.

(Foreign Language)

COOPER: At the crash site, piece of white cloth dot the landscape, marking the spots where the victims well. Witnesses described the terrible moment when the plane and everything in it fell to earth.

"There was a very strong plane rumble, then there were a sort of explosion of flap and then people started falling from the sky", this mans says. People were appearing right from the clouds and then the planes (inaudible) appeared and landed there, 50 meters away from here. Complicating the situation where the crash occurred, the territory in Eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels making difficult to access the site and preserve the evidence.

Reporters have already observed looting by locals. And 30 monitors from the organization for security and cooperation in Europe were only allowed to view about 200 yards of the debris field, estimated to be six square miles.


MICHAEL BOCIURKIW: It basically looks like one of the biggest or the biggest crime scene in the world right now, guarded by a bunch of guys in uniform with heavy fire power who are quite inhospitable.


COOPER: More troubling, the whereabouts of the plan's flight recorders or black boxes are unknown, following rumor that they've been taken to Russia. A Ukrainian official told CNN they're in Ukraine, though he seemed unable to say where. Many claims and counterclaims complicating a crime and a tragedy and it's growing larger by the day.

Well the crash site in Eastern Ukraine, we said remains a very dangerous place. Phil Black is on the scene, he joins us now live. Phil, this is just one of several crime scene, just one of several crash sites. How big an area are we talking about? How spread out is this debris field?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a number of miles at least. And as the sun rises here and the skies are just beginning to turn light now, we hope to get a better sense of it. But it is a very wide area by all accounts. What we have here is one big piece of wreckage, the closest we are told is several miles down the road from here and again further beyond that.

So it is a vast area, indicating that the aircraft most likely to a very significant degree, broke up in the skies, overhead, showering this very wide area. With the wreckage that you see behind me and the many bodies that we see here as well Anderson.

COOPER: And I mean there was no attempt at this point to actually or no capabilities really at this point to try to deal with and persevere and bring dignity to those who died, correct?

BLACK: Very limited capabilities, certainly, I can't comment on what -- to what extent there was motivation, but we don't see a great deal of it at the moment. You're right, most - many of the bodies that we see are still effectively laying where they fell or where they were thrown from the wreckage. As you say some of them have marked or their locations were marked with white cloth and that's it.

We're told that some recovery operation has begun to some degree but we don't know how long it will take, the emergency workers we've been speaking to here say, it's not their job to collect these bodies. If not them then who? This is the moment, it certainly doesn't not look like the rebels which control this area are about to invite in other authorities, other officials, other workers and organizations from the rest of Ukraine to come in here and do this more effectively, in the sort of way that you would normally expect to see at a catastrophe of this scale Anderson.

COOPER: We learned that it was yesterday or last night that we've learned that three of those onboard are infants. Today we also learned that among the 298 people who died, 80 of them were children, 80 children laying in that field right now.

Phil is going to stay with us. I want to bring in our aviation correspondent Richard Quest, your France flight 447 search co-leader David Gallo, also aviation analyst and pilot Miles O'Brien. Richard, in terms of the investigation, in terms of, again, the priority of, I mean brining -- dealing with those who died with dignity that we are no where close to were we want to be.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Oh no, we're not even at the beginning. You got the investigation into what happen, let's put that to one side, that will have to happen in the fullness of time, it will have to be transparent, it will have to have integrity to that. Before we even get to that point, you have the much more humane -- humanitarian issue of "How are you going to deal with this wreckage? Recover the remains, deal with the dignity, the refrigeration, the biohazardous material that is now there, the prospective diseases."

Anderson, you need hundreds of specialize staff, reinforced the security forces that will protect the area, keep it secure, keep the people secure, reinforce with ambulances, refrigeration. The reason I'm putting it in these terms is just to give you the idea of how far away this is from where it needs to be, to even be a remotely decent operation. COOPER: David Gallo, the block boxes, I mean if they -- we don't know where they are ...


COOPER: ... we don't -- there have been some reports they have been handed over to Russian authorities already, we simply do not know, we can not confirm anything, there's a lot of rumors at this point and we don't want to go down that road.

GALLO: Sure.

COOPER: Can block boxes be scrub? Can they be broken into?

GALLO: Sure.

COOPER: They can certainly be made to just disappear up.

GALLO: They're just data recorders Anderson. So in the right hands or the wrong hands, with the right technology, sure you could compromise those seals and get them into change and erase things. I don't know what evidence would be on the black boxes that would change our opinion of what may or may not have happened. But never the less they're one of the most important pieces of evidence and they're apparently gone ...

COOPER: You could certainly get a sense of whether anyone try to make an attempt to contact the air craft, to identify the aircraft, whether were was any communication with the aircraft and also it would give you a sense -- I mean and again, this -- the horrible reality of these is whether or not and for how long this plane may have continued in the air with passengers, with crew members still alive.

GALLO: That's right. Yeah, and there's evidence too with the fuselage. We heard earlier about the kinds of missile that may have brought the plane down and would have left or left a residue. And a certain fragmentation in the fuselage, it would be important to sample that. And all of that is being compromised right now by not giving into the crime scene soon and protecting it.

COOPER: Miles, even without securing the side, you pointed out that a strong cases already being built for who's responsible for it based on what we know about the missile used in the satellite data.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yeah, Anderson, I mean let's face it, there really isn't much of a mystery here anymore. And there's lots of threads of evidence in our way for the wreckage which are helping out, U.S. intelligence assets, which identified the heat signature of the missile being launched, the radar signature, the tracking device used to track in and to home in on the target. We have additional material coming from the Ukraine side, hasn't been verified but apparently boost about the use of the bulk launching system, a boost from one of the rebel leaders indicating they had shutdown a transport aircraft which was later taken off being online.

There's many layers of evidence which are away from those horrible, horrific fields of debris and bodies. And well, we've reached a point where we're not thinking so much about a mystery but building a case, a strong forensic case.

COOPER: Phil, is it clear on the ground from where you are and from the pro-Russian rebels you talked to about what they want to see happen? I mean I know we are told that the people are being told not to touch the bodies, not to move the bodies. But are they willing, do we know -- are they willing to allow international observers in? There was a report about, yeah, OSCE observes where there was some issues about them being hampered in their work.

The people you talked to, are they -- do they say they would be willing to allow NTSB people and others into the site?

BLACK: Nothing on the scale that was required here. You're right, they let the OSCE in for a short period of time today but that is not an organization that knows how to deal with something like this, it's job is monitoring security in this region, not dealing with the dignified recovery of air traffic disaster victims and then looking into securing these area and beginning the investigation and so fort, that's not their (inaudible).

What is needed is something far greater than that, it needs -- this place needs to be open up, it needs to be secured, it needs to bring in experts and a match bigger force of people from Ukraine. And at the moment, there is no sign that's going to happen. We are standing in the middle of the debris field t is effectively changed very little in more than a day in a half and there is not sign that's it's going to change anytime in the coming day or so as well I was saying.

COOPER: And to our viewers, I just want to point out, Phil is being very cautions about where we are pointing cameras, I'm not asking Phil to move around and kind of show the scene because frankly there was an awful lot that -- I mean frankly if there were relatives of people onboard this flight or any viewers, it is a grizzly scene as you can imagine, we don't want people seeing their loved ones identifiable in this kind of a situation .

I want to read what we're just getting in, Ukraine's council of national security defense release a statement and below and I'm just getting it, reading it for the first time. Terrorist are interfering, they say, with international investigation of crash Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 and preventing Ukrainian experts who are conducting work at the scene, response units of the state emergency services at the scene or under the control of militants, all evidence is being ceased by the terrorist, terrorist by the way is the term that the Ukrainian government in Kiev uses to describe pro-Russian rebels.

The statement goes on to say, they announce their intention to find and remove black boxes and the bodies of victims as well. What do you think of that?

QUEST: This is just further evidence, whoever is right or wrong in this allegation of the enormity and I use that word correctly. The enormity of what they are now facing tonight as they try and deal with the recovery of the remains. The only way I can see forward, a chink of light is if you end with a relatively neutral country, in this case it will be maybe the Netherlands ...

COOPER: Right.

QUEST: ... or the Dutch, they did suffer the greatest lost of life. And in some way he Netherlands can put together the necessary coalition, they've certainly got the expertise, the experience of dealing with this issues. That's the only way I can see forth because European coalition as such, we're going to raise the hackles and would put us right back into ...

COOPER: There are plenty of countries in Europe right now who have cadaver dogs, who have a search and rescue teams, who have teams who could get in there if they can get their permissions in the sense of there would enough safety on the ground for them to actually do that.

QUEST: But is a controversy of would it be a British, would it be the French. But it go for the Netherlands and you have perhaps the opportunity of moving forwards.

COOPER: We're got to take a quick break, we're going to continue with the panel throughout the hour. And when we come back, the stories of some of the lives lost in flight 17, including three young children and their loving grandfather from Australia who are on their way home and all died together.


COOPER: On other reporting on how flight 17 was brought down, we do want to take extra care to remember, this is not just a story about that, it's not even primarily a story about that or the geopolitics of all these or the diplomatic efforts or the military efforts. At the end of the day, this is a story, a story cut short but now preserved in memory of 298 lives.

Nick Norris lived, he was traveling home with this three grandchildren, three of 80 kids onboard that flight. He was bringing them home from new school year. His nephew Matthew Jones tonight.

Matt, I'm so sorry for what you and your family is going to through. Your uncle Nick was with his three grandchildren, what was Nick like?

MATTHEW JONES: Hi Anderson. Look, Nick was a real inspirational hero to me, he was a really strong family man, he was really -- he was a (inaudible) also, a very pragmatic guy and I think it's a real tragedy, the whole thing, for all the families concerned. But also for Nick, you know, there's no way to make this a better story but the fact that he was with his grandchildren right to the end, caring for his family is perhaps a way of looking at the strength that he brought for things.

COOPER: That they were all together. How is your mother and your other family members, how are they holding up? JONES: I think understandably, you could say that -- and imagine that they are quite devastated. Not only the lost a cousin or a brother but importantly they've lost three beautiful -- these three beautiful children have been lost as well. And I think that's the real hard of this tragedy, it's such a stealing of innocent life.

COOPER: Nick sounds like a incredibly strong guy. What did he do for a living?

JONES: Well Nick was really a great thinker, he successfully run a consultancy company, looking at clarity and systemic change, he works around in West Australia but also internationally, helping to bring change about to communities. And he was also an army officer, he commanded the battalion which his father served in, during the Second World War. So ..

COOPER: Wow, that's amazing.

JONES: ... -- but he had range of experiences, it was -- yeah, he was a real inspiration, yeah.

COOPER: Well Matt, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us and again I'm so sorry for you lost and your whole families losses, thank you so much.

JONES: Thanks Anderson.

COOPER: Well for all the people experiencing these deep feelings of lost, there are some who are in a different kind of shock and still being alive frankly, they're shock that they're alive. Thanks to a stroke of lack, they might have actually taken flight 17 but choose not to. There's that -- there are others, of course who ended up on the flight almost by chance. In every tragedy there were strange twist of all kinds.

More on that now from Deborah Feyerick.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONENT: If it disappears, this is what it looked like wrote Cor Pan, posting what's believed to be a photo of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on his Facebook page an hour before take off.

The Dutch man making a dark joke, referring to missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 which vanished from radar in March. His is one of the only known photos by a passenger purportedly at MH Flight 17 shot down in rebel-held area of Ukraine.

For MH 17 passenger, Mohammad Ali Mohammed Salim, the missing flight was also very much on his mind. Under the hashtag, feeling a little nervous. He posted video reported to be the inside of Flight17.

Listen as a flight attendant prepares the cabin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in our final stages of our boarding and cargo loading. Once again, do ensure that there are (inaudible) flight to Kuala Lumpur international.

FEYERICK: Australian Kaylene Mann story is too much to believe, still grieving her brother who vanished aboard Flight 370, she now lost her stepdaughter on Flight 17.

And then there's a married coupled, both Malaysian Airline Flight attendants. The wife allegedly swapped shifts of missing Flight 370 and survived. But her husband, Sanjid Singh swaps shifts unto Flight 17. Sadly, he died along with the other 297 passengers and crew.

But there are other would be passengers who are counting their blessings today, thanks to a chance decision or twist to faith that keep them off the doomed flight.

IZZY SIM: I feel like I've been given a second chance. And hopefully that we'll there safely and that I will see my family again.

FEYERICK: Izzy Sim, her husband and baby were boomed off to full flight.

SIM: I feel like there's a (inaudible) and that was like from (inaudible) coming to the airport and the (inaudible) crime.

FEYERICK: Also supposed to be on Flight 17, Juan Jovel and his bride Simone La Posta. After a five and a half week honeymoon, they switched flights to return to work without jet lag.

JUAN JOVEL: Feeling lucky but at the same time, you know, just hearts bleed for these families that, you know, expecting their loved ones to come home.

FEYERICK: Stories of improbable loss and improbable survival, each one resonates because each one reminds us how fine the line is between what was and what might have been.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN New York.

COPPER: Well coming up tonight, we're going to speak to someone who's doing some of the toughest work imaginable at the crash site. He is there and witness and talks about it next.


COPPER: Remember the first investigative team who arrived at the crash site out of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 says it looks like the biggest crime scene in world guarded by heavily armed men in uniform who were "quiet and hospitable."

That's what the spokesman told (inaudible) report today. He also said, no one really seems to be in-charge and the perimeter is not secured. All of course troubling information considering this is not only a debris field crucial to an investigation, more importantly a grave site where 298 people lost their lives.

Freelance Journalist, Noah Sneider has been at the wreckage site. I spoke to him earlier today. (BEGIN VEDIO CLIP)

COOPER: You spend the night at the crash site. You were there this morning. What was the scene this morning when light finally broke?

NOAH SNEIDER, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: The scene was a bit strange and so real it was quite empty.

There was a group of emergency services, workers would also spend tonight, essentially fixed a tent camp. And they be (ph) on working. Certainly after 7:00 a.m. they all sort of lined up and took slightly more organized approach to marking the landing sites of the bodies in the field that actually have some maps out and this but it's a territory but at the same time it wasn't -- it was the sophisticated approach. There was still time, white cloth and just to (inaudible) and basically walking through the fields and marking these spots.

COPPER: There had been some reports of possible looting or removal of items or removal even of debris. And did you see any of that?

SNEIDER: To say that has been extensive looting at least during the morning period while I was there is pretty difficult. You know, the parameter there is being controlled as one -- one rebel commanded that taught me by essentially by three groups. One is set of fighters from nearby (inaudible), second from (inaudible), and third from a battalion of Kazakhs. The Kazakhs secured at the wild card as always in this situation.

COPPER: Did -- yesterday, you had talked that in some cases they were removing bodies, so they're trying to get all the victims together, does that continue today? Did you see that?

SNEIDER: The prime minister of the so called -- that People's Republic said today that they've been announced not to touch the bodies, by Dutch and Malaysian authorities. Suggesting that people are still hoping there will be a chance for folks to international observers and international investigators into the area.

The concern of course is that you have a hundreds of bodies that came to the field before anyone has a chance to get for them. Its summer here, it was raining actually earlier in the day. But it's simply -- it's not a ideal conditions.

COPPER: So, did it seem to you that most -- I mean, obviously, investigators are going to be looking at the -- what kind of wreckage -- the pieces of the wreckage and also even the people themselves. Are most of the people -- I'm not sure it even had to -- to how to ask this. Are most the people intact?

SNEIDER: I think it's about 50-50. I did a walk through this morning and sort of -- in the daylight and count it to roughly to 50 bodies and I'd say at least half of them are still mangled that you simply couldn't identify them.

Some just kind of twist in corpses that look almost a (inaudible) but at the same time, there are others that is handles properly. It could be good and identified.

COOPER: I know now, you have been talking to a number of pro-Russian rebel leaders and spokes people. What are they telling you in terms of claims and responsibility in terms of what they want to see happen?

SNEIDER: Most of the rebels here -- I'd say frankly across the board, deny responsibility for this. They claim that it's a provocation conjured up by the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev. They -- many of them claim that they don't have the equipment or that they don't have enough the components of this missile system group to actually hit this plane.

COOPER: So the video posted by Ukraine's interior ministry in his Facebook page showing a BUK system in -- according to Ukraine officials heading towards Russia with one missile missing. Things like that, that's all discounted by anybody and the rebels that you talked to.

SNEIDER: Absolutely. They submitted (ph) mildly -- don't talk the word, the kids says.

COOPER: It's very possible that you may have family members wanting to come to the crash site as soon as possible is -- how remote is it, how possible is it to actually get there.

SNEIDER: It's about 90 minutes from regional capital Donestk where I'm actually sitting right now. It's also in a (inaudible) classic Ukrainian country side storage down sort of pot hole riddled roads. But the main issue I think for anyone traveling in this region right now is that effectively the roads are controlled by these separatists groups. And that's not an especially safe place to be traveling.

COOPER: The freelance journalist Noah Sneider. When we come back another angle, the search for accountability by learning all that can be learned about the missile involved, where it came from, what it takes it to send it on it's deadly way.


COOPER: Picture that says a lot. You have pro-Russian rebels there on the crash site. One of them holding a stuffed animal from one of the 80 children on board that flight.

As we've been reporting, the working theories that pro-Russian theories that pro-Russian rebels are the ones who brought down Flight 17 with the BUK Missile System Supply by the Russian military that according to a senior defense official from the United States who would not give details about what specific intelligence led to that assumption.

Meanwhile though, U.S. intelligence and military analysts are examining this video -- take a look -- released by the Ukrainian government apparently showing a BUK system what they say is being driven back toward the Russian border after the plane went down.

Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto joins me now live.

So what more we finding out about the weapons used -- the weapon used to bring down this plane?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I think the most substantial step forward today is the U.S. assessment that to fire these missiles, these pro-Russian rebels would have needed some Russian help.

That was said on the floor of the U.N. Security Council by the U.S. Ambassador, the U.N. Samantha Power, the Pentagon Spokesman Admiral John Kirby going a step further and even saying that it would strain cordiality for those rebels who have fired this without Russian help.

They don't have it yet. They don't have hard evidence that they were Russian advisers presents at the time that it happened but at least but they are at least raising hard questions suggesting that they would at least needed some help to make this happen.

COOPER: Are things any clear today as to exactly where the weapons may have come from. You know, I talked about this earlier today because yesterday, there been reports that perhaps they weren't -- had been taken from a Ukraine military base months ago in Crimea and there was also one person who said today an official of (inaudible) and that they came from Russia.

SCIUTTO: Well, this is the working theory of U.S. officials that weapons came across the border. This missile under came across the border from Russia. Yesterday, Ukrainian officials were saying they knew they were pictures up in the internet that the rebels had somehow captured one of these in the Ukrainian base and might have gotten to Eastern Ukraine.

It is still not established if this is still the same one. But I'm told by U.S. officials that at least the working theory now is if it came across the border. You reference that video that shows this missile entry going back into Russia after the strike.

Ukrainian officials gave us recordings earlier today that report to show those pro-Russian rebels describing the missile entry as it came into Eastern Ukraine from across the border in Russia. And I've spoken to U.S. officials. I've asked him. Do they have any reason to doubt the authenticity of these recordings. They say no they do not. They cannot confirm them but they do not have the reason to doubt them.

COOPER: Jim, I appreciate the update tonight. Thanks, Jim Sciutto. With me again is former FBI and senior -- CIA senior official, Philip Mudd, also CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.

You're familiar with this missile system. We heard from Pentagon today that it is relatively sophisticated, that they believe there must have been -- or in all likelihood, there was some sort of training by Russian forces where that took place, when that took place is unclear. How much training would somebody need? LT.COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, for the similar U.S. system, we put someone from six months of training. And this is a four man crew so it's not just one person being trained. You have to have somebody that can run this. So you got four people.

COOPER: Four people -- all of them have different roles to play.

FRANCONA: Right. Right. You know, one will run the radar, one will run the missile, one will run the other radar. There's several different radar systems that have to be run. This is a very sophisticated system but what we're seeing and, you know, Jim brought us some good points. We're watching one unit. One forth of this system. That's the key part the transporter erector launcher and radar.

We're not seeing the acquisition radar which leads me to believe that when they turned this on, they had a very limited radar capability and probably had trouble identifying that target as a civilian airliner.

COOPER: So from intelligence perspective, what can you add in the investigation by tracking this weapon I mean if in fact, Ukraine internist would put on the Facebook page allegedly being brought back to Russia. If the weapon itself crossover to Russia and disappears, is that kind of a game over in terms of determining the trajectory of this more about it?

PHILIP MUDD FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: Boy, it's not close to game over. First there's the pre-attacks stuff the pre-strike stuff you're going to be looking at volumes of imagery intelligence from satellite saying did we see something in the weeks before hand that showed missile systems like this moving around from Russia to Ukraine or within Ukraine. Then, there's a lot of after action, Anderson, that we haven't talked about.

Again you're going to be looking imagery intelligence to say, "Hey, do we see a system like this that's moving around? Do we see it moving across the boarder?" But there's an interesting piece of this and that is human intelligence that we haven't discussed.

You have presumably sources within the Ukrainian opposition. Maybe they're run buy the U.S., maybe they're run by the Ukrainians. What are they're saying, when can we get access to them? And finally in my experience when you have tragic like this you might have members in the opposition who's sort to become disaffected from opposition.

People in my own business at the CIA we call walk-ins, who walk into U.S. facility call in, send an e-mail and then say, "Hey, I'm disgusted with what I've seen. I'd like to talk to you about what I know." The walk-in situation here where do we find people in the coming days or weeks who want to talk about what they've seen is pretty significant.

COOPER: Can you definitively match, you know, a particular weapons to (inaudible) to this crash or do you need the actual radar that's on the weapon system? FRANCONA: Well not, yes you can the short answer. The warhead will be the key here and that's why they need access to this site fairly quickly so they can check the residue that's on that aircraft. This was a proximity fused warhead. So it would approach within about 100 meters of the aircraft and then detonate. And this would spray out a lot of shrapnel and explosive material all over the side of the aircraft. If they can find out what that was they can match it to the type of warhead, the type of explosion.

COOPER: So what you're really talking about is a warhead that explodes sends out shrapnel that disables the aircraft in some cases rips it apart. And that's why in some cases we're seeing large pieces of the aircraft. It's not something that completely disintegrated necessarily at 33,000 feet.

FRANCONA: This is not a kinetic strike. The missile doesn't strike the aircraft the warhead explodes in the proximity and shoots out all the shrapnel. And that's why you're seeing the aircraft breaking up but not necessarily exploding.

COOPER: Lt. Col. Rick Francona, it's good to have you on, and Philip Mudd as well. One late note on the missiles it goes directly to Jim, Phil, and Colonel Francona were just mentioning, we've just got a new information from the senior Obama administration official who tells us they do in fact believe they transfer, they were -- the weapon that was transferred into Eastern Ukraine from Russia in a recent days or weeks.

That same officials who says the U.S. lose a pro-Russian separatist could not have operated it without Russian training -- we're talking about the BUK system -- but does not yet know whether Russian personnel themselves were unseen at the time of about the shoot down. That information just coming in. Now coming up, the red flags that came before this horrible tragedy and the looming question to the airspace had been restricted given the violence that was ranging on the ground.


COOPER: Tonight the red flags and while I despite them Flight 17 was in that airspace above a war zone here's Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The signs of danger we're all around...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This also follows a pattern of actions by Russian-backed separatists.

MARSH: June 13th pro-Russian rebels shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane killing 49 people. June 24th rebels shoot a Ukrainian helicopter killing 9. And this week Monday, July 14th a cargo plane shot out of the sky.

Then Wednesday a fighter jet shutdown, the next day Flight 17 suffered the same faith. Were red flag ignored? Malaysia Airlines says no.

LIOW TION LAI, MALAYSIA TRANSPORT MINISTER: The Flight path taken by MH 17 was approved by the International Civil Aviation Organizations and by the countries whose airspace the route passed through and the International Air Transportation Association.

MARSH: Ukraine authorized flights above 32,000 feet an altitude that was considered safe. Nonetheless some airlines did avoid the area. Unless the airspace is restricted it's their call whether to fly through. The New York Times report shows carriers like British airways and Air France flew around the conflict zone all together. Reuters reports so did Qantas, Air Berlin, Asiana Airlines, Korean Airlines and Taiwan's China Airlines. Carriers like Malaysia Airlines flew directly over the was zone.

RICK ASPER: You can simply take every airspace that might have a problem and say we're not going to fly there because as I say the global scope of that would be enormous.

MARSH: Late this week the dangers of the airspace now abundantly clear. Those aviation authorities took action. The Aviation arms of the U.N. and Europe recommending that airlines avoid airspace. And the U.S. and Ukraine prohibiting flights there, but for flight 17 it's too late. Rene Marsh, CNN Washington.


COOPER: Joining me again CNN Safety Analyst David Soucie and CNN aviation analyst and pilot Miles O'Brien. I mean this flight was, it was an illegally approved to airspace David, shouldn't been able to fly 33,000 feet we know that Ukraine have limited the airspace below that.

DAVID SOUCIE AUTHOR "WHY PLANES CRASH": Yes, should have been was illegal too, was it OK to be there absolutely on paper, you know, but you have to think beyond that sometimes. And think that part of this, I have to think that at this point because the Ukraine has some instability in the government right now. These totems are supposed to be issues by the country of origin.

So there was suppose to be under annex 13 -- annex 15 excuse me -- like KL (ph) there suppose to be issuing these notems and say "this is not a safe place to be." The distraction was going on there could've played a part in that. And not being able to report that.

COOPER: Miles, how much of this -- I mean again hindsight is 20/20. But how much of these is a financial decision by an airline like Malaysian Airlines which we know is obviously in financial trouble. Given what happened even, you know, months ago with the other plane.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST AND PILOT: It's the only explanation, Anderson, why else wouldn't you go around that heavily contested part of the world. Take a few minutes to either go to North or South as many airlines choose to do in approve with fashion and burn a little more fuel. It's a commercial decision which comes to safety decision. This happens all the time in the airline industry. Ultimately, the captain of that airliner should have the right to refuse a flight plan that is been laid out by a dispatcher but maybe the culture of the airline was such that it was tremendous pressure on them to deliver these flights as efficiently as possible.

You know, I looked at this particular flight over the past month or so on FlightAware and compared it to what they flew today which incidentally was still Flight 17, usually they change the number. It was interesting. They flew way south today over the Black Sea and it took them five more minutes, five more minutes over a 12 hour flight. That's what we're talking about here.

COOPER: I mean David is that fair to raise the question as where how much was this just a financial decision?

SOUCIE: Yes. I think that he is right about that. I think that there's a financial decision but if it's only five minutes, how much money do they really save or not save as well. So, you have to think about that. It's easy to say, "Yes, the airlines made the financial decision." I tend to think more of this atrophy of vigilance, the ideas that it is not really as we've done is over and over and over and it's not better risk.

COOPER: The atrophy of vigilance.

SOUCIE: So the more that you go -- the more that you do something and unless you think that you're at risk.

COOPER: Right.

SOUCIE: ... and eventually you get use to that and you are numb to the additional risks.

COOPER: David Soucie, Miles O'Brien, there still a lot of questions that -- to be ask and no doubt we will be asking them in the day, in the weeks ahead.

When we come back I want to focus on and again on more of those on board to plane what we now know about them and also the missile that took down Flight 17. We're really wipe that decades of knowledge and expertise in the HIV/AIDS Research Community, dozens of researchers and workers were on board heading to a conference. One of them is being remembered as a giant in this field.

I'm going to talk to a friend and a colleague -- there actually several people on board on plane, the legendary HIV/AIDS activist himself Mark Harrington, he joins me ahead.


COOPER: The lost of 298 people is of course immeasurable. We wish the loved ones of those who perished on the flight strength in the difficult days and weeks and months and years even ahead.

As we've reported dozens of the passengers were on their way to an international AIDS conference in Australia including a prominent HIV researcher, Joep Lange.

Former President Clinton as keynote speaker at the conference, he said it's sickening what happened to so many gifted people.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: This is gathering. We do this on a regular basis. We have this International AIDS Conferences and I tried to go all because I'm always so inspired by what other people were doing and what we can learn from them So since I left office it's been a kind of a regular part of my life thinking about those people being not knockdown of the sky is pretty tough.


COOPER: And the lost of these dedicated scientist and activist has left the globe where health community reeling. Mark Harrington, Executive Director of the Treatment Action Network and a friend of Dr. Lange, he joins me.

You knew Dr. Lange 20 years as I understand what was he like?

MARK HARRINGTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TREATMENT ACTION NETWORK: Joep Lange was a really passionate, smart, community AIDS researcher who started out doing one of the world's best AIDS treatment programs in Holland in the 1990's. And as soon as effective treatment became available, he was passionate about having global treatment access and he worked really hard doing research in Thailand, doing treatment access all across Africa. He was a passionate believer that the poor should have access to equally high quality treatment as the rich.

COOPER: He had famously said the thing about that if Coca-Cola can deliver...


COOPER: ... refrigerated drinks to all of Africa that...

HARRINGTON: ... we should be able to deliver HIV treatment.

COOPER: He say of countless of lives as many of the other ...

HARRINGTON: In his part of his huge movement to which is now resulted in 10 million people around the world being on effective HIV treatment, one of the greatest accomplishments in public health history.

COOPER: What sort of effect do you think this has on the movement on the HIV/AIDS community around the world?

HARRINGTON: Well, I think it's a devastation that share by thousands of people because he affected thousands of peoples lives. And we all, you know, we're all one -- part of one AIDS community, whether we're activist or doctors or whether we're living with HIV or whether we're in the North or in the South men and women, gay, straight. We all work together. We're all one community and he was a leader within our community. So...

COOPER: And also...

HARRINGTON: ... there's going to be a lot of grief.

COOPER: ... the sure number of people in the community who are on board this flight heading toward this conference. I mean, there is brained and beyond the personal loss for the family and the love ones of these people the collective sort of brain trust of all these people the decades that...


COOPER: ... collectively that they had all work on this issue that's been loss for us all.

HARRINGTON: Yes. But I would say that, you know, his message will live on. I mean, he give a talk to us just a few weeks ago in Vancouver at the treatments prevention meeting about how we really need to continue at the scale up treatment so that we can end the epidemic.

And I think that message will resonate. And maybe in a way although it's tragedy, you know, maybe his work will even have a more profound effect because people will remember him and they will want to work harder in his honor.

COOPER: Did you know other people on board to flight ...

HARRINGTON: Yes. There was a friend of mine from the World Health Organization who works in UTB Tuberculosis program who was a really excellent, wonderful, very kind, good-hearted person, almost too nice for public health.

COOPER: Too nice for public health.

HARRINGTON: Yeah, he was really, really a sweet.

COOPER: What was his name?

HARRINGTON: His name was Glenn Thomas.

COOPER: I -- we -- yes. I talk to somebody else from the WHO about this earlier today.

HARRINGTON: Yeah. And he was just a wonderful person. So, we were still waiting to hear all the names. There could be others.

COOPER: We'll thank you very much for coming and talking about it.

HARRINGTON: Yes. Thank you for honoring his memory.

COOPER: And that's it for this hour. Stay with CNN through out the night for continuing live coverage for the shoot down of MH 17 CNN tonight starts now.