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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Shoot-Down of Flight 17; Discrepancy in the Remains Being Recovered; FAA Bans U.S. Flight to Tel Aviv; More Pressure on Russia; Dutch PM: Identifying The Bodies Could Take Months; Remembering The Victims
Aired July 22, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks for joining us. Welcome to our special two-hour edition of 360.
There are significant new developments on our two big stories tonight. Israel's war with Hamas where there's now direct and immediate fallout for Americans traveling to Israel and of course Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, more evidence today, photographic evidence -- you see it right there -- suggesting that a missile brought it down.
In addition to that, the American intelligence community is providing more details pointing toward Russian involvement. The latest on that from Washington tonight.
From the U.N. a Dutch diplomat's heartfelt outpouring about his country's human ordeal, nearly 200 deaths in a country of 17 million, their equivalent of American losses on 9/11.
President Obama telling the Dutch prime minister tonight that once their remains are repatriated, the first priority should be on safe and secure access to the crash site, a site we learned today that could still contain some of those remains, as many as 100 people.
We'll talk about all that.
You'll also meet a young woman who's mourning the loss of her kid brother. She said that despite being younger in years, he called her his little sister because he stood so tall in life. Now as you'll see in her eyes.
Let's get started.
COOPER (voice-over): For many victims, this is the first leg of a long, slow journey home. What are believed to be the remains of 200 people, of the 298 killed aboard Flight 17, arrived by refrigerated train to the government controlled city of Kharkiv today.
Pro-Russian rebels have said they've loaded the bodies of 282 people on board the train but authorities today said that number was incorrect. The tragic reality nearly 100 victims likely remain at the crash site. There was no procession to greet them. Only a small gathering of
reporters, pro-Russian rebels on the train and the Dutch officials tasked with preparing them for transport. The remains were brought to a local factory where they will be place in coffins before being flown back to the Netherlands. There, forensic experts will begin what's expected to be a difficult task, identifying each victim.
Also aboard the train, the plane's two black boxes handed over to Malaysia officials upon arrival. The boxes will eventually be sent to the United Kingdom, not Malaysia as originally thought, where accident investigators including one member of the NTSB will retrieve and analyze data from the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder.
But what likely won't be contained within are answers to the two questions that become more pressing each day -- who shot down the plane and why.
New images of the debris have emerged today seeming to confirm a surface-to-air missile brought down the ill-fated plane. Parts of the fuselage riddled with small puncture holes that appear to be from high velocity shrapnel. Damage consistent with the Buk anti-aircraft missile system.
Meanwhile, European leaders are said to be close to more limited sanctions against Russia and Russian companies but fell short of stronger action urged by others.
President Obama, for his part, paid his respects to the victims today, signing a book at the Dutch embassy in Washington and vowing to bring those responsible to justice.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not for me to extend on behalf of all the American people our deepest condolences over the loss of family and friends and to assure the Dutch people that we will work with them to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a proper investigation is conducted and that ultimately justice is done.
COOPER: Duly justice requires evidence, in this case evidence gleaned directly from the crash site but also gathered by other means, by using intelligence sources and methods. Tonight that effort may be bearing some fruit.
Barbara Starr has been working her sources. She joins us now.
So I understand U.S. officials are saying they haven't yet found a direct link between the Russians and the shootdown but that doesn't mean that they're innocent actors in all this, right?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Far from it, Anderson. And in fact, after briefing reporters, what we learned that U.S. is -- that U.S. intelligence officials say, you know, if you think Russia is about to start behaving, think again.
I want to put up this picture of two satellite images and show it to everybody and just walk through it for a moment.
This is a place called Rustov just across the border inside Russia. On the left you have an image from June. You see a couple of white spots there, indications of some military equipment but one month later, July, just this week, a huge buildup of Russian military equipment there.
The U.S. intelligence community analyzing these pictures with other intelligence says this is the place from where Russia is sending equipment across the border. Just today they say they have evidence Russia sent some 20 tanks and armored vehicles across the border back into Ukraine into this separatists held territory.
Every indication that the Russians are still very much trying to exert their influence in this entire situation -- Anderson.
COOPER: I've heard a report, Barbara, and let me know if you've heard this as well that Russia is actually sending equipment that they know the Ukrainian military has so that if it's discovered, it appears that it could very well have been taken from Ukrainian military possession.
STARR: Yes, exactly. Talk about plausible deniability by the Russians. Very much so. What the U.S. is beginning to analyze from these satellite images is they are sending the very same type of equipment that the Ukrainians have. In the case, however, of this SA- 11, this Buk missile launcher, the Russian claim that it could been a Ukrainian system, the U.S. has looked at that very closely.
There were no Ukrainian SA-11 missile launchers anywhere near this area and what the U.S. is saying is look, you would have to assume that the Ukrainians fought their way across separatist territory with this missile launcher, had some reason to shoot down an airplane, and then fought their way back out bringing the missing launcher out with them. The U.S. says that is just not plausible.
And actually, in fact, you know, they can't pin down whether there were Russians, you know, with their finger on the launch button but what they do think is possible whoever launched this missile simply didn't have the technical expertise, the understanding of what they were doing. They may have thought they were launching at a military plane having no idea that they were about to bring down a commercial airliner and cost so many lives.
COOPER: You've also obtained a diagram that shows the missile trajectory.
STARR: Very interesting stuff here. This is based on the U.S. intelligence community looking at all of their satellites, their heat signatures, their radars, all of it. What you see here is MH-17, that yellow line, coming down in a southeasterly direction. Then the missile launch from further down and that missile travels to the northwest before it hits the plane. What they have found from the intelligence they have looked at, the
technical intelligence, the heat and infrared and radar signatures is the missile hit the plane, there were secondary explosions, it then fell to the ground. All of the pictures of the wreckage, that shrapnel that everybody sees, the pattern of holes throughout the wreckage, that is the pattern caused by a surface-to-air missile flying at a high rate of speed they tell us.
COOPER: All right. Barbara Starr working your sources -- thanks, Barbara.
We're going to be talking shortly to our panel of intelligence and airline safety analysts. There is a lot of ground to cover tonight, not the least of which involves what ought to have been -- ought to have been dignified, ought to have been organized, ought to have been humane, decent and as blessedly quick as possible but it wasn't. None of it. Not by any measure. None.
The first step of the terrible yet vital work of identifying the dead, preparing the remains first to transport back to the Netherlands and soon we hope to their loved ones.
The process now underway belatedly in Kharkiv where our Nick Paton Walsh joins us now.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a discrepancy over the numbers of victims on board that train who were transported on that train.
What are you learning?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is going to be the very messy business of the days ahead. One Malaysian security official I spokes to who traveled on board that train with the bodies said that he believed there are 282 bodies in a reasonable condition and 87 body parts.
That tallies with what separatist rebels have been saying and in fact even what the Ukrainian government said just in the past few days. But the key question is Dutch investigators don't really buy that at this stage.
The head of their investigative team, and they make up the majority of international experts, says he's more comfortable with the idea there were 200 bodies in fact on there. They accept, as they keep going through the wagons, and they're already on to the second of five refrigerated units at this point, they may find a larger number than 200 but there are growing fears tonight, Anderson, that at that crash site there could be in that vast area further humane remains that have yet to be gathered up.
COOPER: So potentially dozens of victims may still be out there in those fields?
WALSH: That is the fear, of course, raises the issue of further access to that crash site. This is enormously complex business certainly because as one investigator described to me, the sheer damage done to people when they're hit by a surface-to-air missile and for that distance makes recognition extraordinarily hard.
The issue now is timing. It seems like identification and the real bulk of the forensic work is going to have to happen back in the Netherlands. All the bodies are going to get back there by current estimates until Friday. That leaves relatives an awful long period before they even know how little they know at this stage then investigators may have to continue working crash sites here if they can get back there given the separatists violence and the civil war still raging.
COOPER: I talked to the uncle of someone who was killed aboard this plane and they said that family members have already been asked by Dutch officials to give DNA samples to help in the identification process but they were told very clearly that it might be weeks and/or months before their loved one is able to be identified.
WALSH: That's certainly the problem. I think it's extraordinarily hard for the investigators they tell me to be sure that entire area was combed. Were this to have happened in a Westernized country with a fully functional state, we're talking about an area which is racked by civil war where much of the combing of the area was done by separatist militants who have obviously other concerns in their fight against the Ukrainian military.
If it's determined they haven't got all 298 remains on that train, which frankly I think most investigators think here is pretty likely, there will be days, as you say, perhaps months ahead where further investigation is done here but also in the Netherlands, too, where they have the technology and resources -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nick, appreciate the reporting.
We'll of course have much more as this story as the next two hours unfold.
Next, though, late developments in the Middle East, a major one involving flights in and out of Israel's main airport, not far from where a Palestinian rocket landed. The question tonight, is it safe to fly into the country, that and new cease-fire efforts when our special extended edition of 360 continues.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight, the FAA has suspended U.S. flights to or from Tel Aviv because of a rocket that landed about a mile away from Ben Gurion International Airport this morning. Now that airport is the gateway between Israel and the rest of the world and other countries airlines including Israel's El Al are continuing operations.
The FAA ban is just the latest of what seems to be an escalating conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza and comes just a day after the State Department issued a travel warning for Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
Meanwhile, the death toll climbs, at least 630 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and nearly 4,000 have been wounded. The United Nations says up to 80 percent of them are civilian casualties, 28 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians have been killed.
CNN's Atika Shubert is reporting from Ben Gurion airport tonight. She joins me along with our Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.
Atika, you've been at the airport all day. Flights continue to come in and out of the airport, correct? What have you been seeing?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, for Tel Aviv International Airport, it's business as usual. We've seen El Al flights coming and going and DHL cargo plane landing as well. But it's really the U.S. carriers that are most affected and we had actually really good example of what they're worried about. We had a siren go off and then the red alert went out. Few seconds later a rocket from Gaza was intercepted by the antimissile system Iron Dome, but it was right over Ben Gurion International Airport.
And a few seconds later a plane took off and it's exactly that combination of events and timing with which the FAA is so concerned about. They want some sort of assurance that the planes are going to be safe enough from these rockets to land and take off from.
COOPER: A lot of pushback from Israeli officials over the flight ban, what are they saying?
SHUBERT: Yes, Israel's transportation minister is very upset about this and he specifically said that this is like giving a price to terrorism, that this is exactly what Hamas wanted. And so Israel is campaigning very hard to have this overruled, that this FAA warning overruled and even Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to Secretary of State John Kerry about this but so far the FAA warning stand.
And I think the important thing here is that this would have a significant impact on Israel because this is the main gateway to the country. If Secretary Kerry comes here for diplomatic talks, for example, this is where he's going to land and that's why it's so important for Tel Aviv International Airport to remain open.
COOPER: The planes that are flying in to Ben Gurion airport, are they taking any special precautions that they've at least announced?
SHUBERT: No, no special precautions are being taken but a lot of airline carriers are basically saying they're watching and monitoring the situation, even the U.S. airlines are really saying it's only for 24 hours and they'll monitor it after that. But the problem is, of course, is you never know when these rocket attacks are going to be launched and these aren't particularly accurate rockets. They're really sort of flying all over the place here, which is part of the problem, you just never know where it's going to come out and where it's going to land.
COOPER: Wolf, both Secretary Kerry and the U.N. secretary general are in the region tonight. Is a cease-fire looking any more likely today?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: You know, I spoke to some Palestinian officials, Palestinian officials from the Palestinian Authority, including a Hamas spokesman. They seemed a little bit more upbeat that maybe over the next 24 hours they could come up with some sort of cease-fire. We'll see if in fact that happens. I know Ban-Ki Moon, the U.N. secretary general, met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, met with the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas.
They are working hard behind the scenes to see if they can come up with a cease-fire. We'll see if they can do it. The last time they tried, the Israelis accepted, Hamas rejected it. We'll see if Hamas is willing to go along with it this time.
COOPER: And what about the reports of Israeli soldier missing possibly in Gaza? What do you know about that?
BLITZER: There is one Israeli soldier according to the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, who's now officially listed as missing. They don't know if he's alive or dead. They know he was in this one battle, it was a brutal battle. He was an Israeli armored personnel carrier. Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed when a shot came in from Hamas. They are looking for this soldier.
Hamas says they have an Israeli soldier, although they've have shown no proof of life of this Israeli soldier so right now the soldier is simply listed as missing. It's a big -- it's a big mystery here in Israel what really happened and the IDF says they're continuing their search, their investigation.
COOPER: Wolf Blitzer, Atika Shubert, thank you.
Well, for more on the story, of course, you go to CNN.com. We're going to have a lot more on it throughout this two-hour broadcast.
Coming up, will Russia take any responsibility for the downing of Flight 17? We'll tell you what the Russian ambassador to the EU told our Christiane Amanpour today. Why he says it's a game changer.
Also ahead tonight, echoes of Korean Airlines Flight 007 shot out of the sky by Soviet fighter pilots in 1983. Hundreds of people died and the Soviets denied any responsibility.
COOPER: Welcome back. A looming question in the downing of Flight 17 is when and if Russia will own up to any responsibility in the attack and what will it take for that to happen.
Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has said that Ukraine is at least indirectly to blame because of what he characterizes as its offensive against pro-Russian separatists.
And the Russian propaganda machine is turning out all sorts of theories about what happened including the plane was loaded with people who are already dead in Amsterdam or that a Ukrainian war plane caused Flight 17 to crash.
When our Christiane Amanpour today asked the Russian ambassador to the EU about that propaganda he says it's a quote information war that has its own rules and also had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR CHIZHOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE EU: I can assure you that it is in the national interest of Russia to see this conflict end as soon as possible. It has never been Russia's intention to launch this conflict. It started not -- it was not started by Russia and we never thought it would serve any interest to prolong it or exacerbate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Christiane joins me now along with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor who's the vice president for Middle East and Africa in the United States Institute of Peace.
Christiane, listening to the ambassador there, I mean, it's sort of beggar's belief. The stuff that's coming out of his mouth. I mean, Russia is still denying playing any part in this conflict whatsoever, yet at the same time, according to U.S. officials and others, pumping in weaponry -- continuing to pump in weaponry to pro-Russian rebels.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that, as you've been discussing with Barbara from that training facility just across the border is truly appalling to consider because this has been something that the West has been demanding and NATO and everybody has been demanding that that flow of weapons and people stop and if it's still going on at this precise moment, it does, as you say, beg the question, is Russia going to stop it any time soon?
And Ambassador Chizhov, on the one hand, said things like what happened is a game changer. What happened should be a serious wakeup call for all of us. So on the one hand he was saying sort of the right thing and on the other hand in the same breath, he would repeat the sort of -- I put him to him, the conspiracy theories and the propaganda that it's all the Ukrainians' fault that, as you heard him say, Russia never started any of this.
I mean, if you just cast your mind back to when this all did start, it actually did start because Ukraine had the temerity to want to sign a free trade agreement with Europe and that's when all of this started. So it's very difficult to see whether or not they feel that President Putin will actually try to exert his influence to stop this at this point.
COOPER: And Ambassador Taylor, I mean, we're hearing a lot of talk from Russian officials about wanting a cease-fire in Ukraine but a cease-fire just allows the pro-Russian rebels to really strengthen their grasp on the territory that they -- that they currently hold. Isn't that exactly what Russia wants?
WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: That's exactly what Russia has wanted up until now and a cease-fire helps the rebels, the separatists, the terrorists, consolidate themselves. As you've indicated, there is more equipment coming across the border even today. So the sense that the Russians are trying to calm things down while they establish the rebels more firmly in the eastern part of the Ukraine is a real mistake.
COOPER: It's also extraordinary, Ambassador, when you hear from U.S. officials that Russia is sending over equipment specifically picked because it's equipment that the Ukrainian military that Russia therefore has deniability that that equipment ever came from Russia in the first place.
TAYLOR: But of course U.S. intelligence is pretty good. And we can tell. We have ways of looking down at that terrain to find out what is moving and where. So for them to try to pull this trick and then move it back across as they apparently did with these anti-aircraft missiles just seems like a fool's errand.
COOPER: And Christiane, and part of the issue here is that the international community has not been unified in how it plans to respond to Russia. We are now seeing only an incremental increase in EU sanctions, France, for instance. I mean, they're continuing forward with the sale of warships to Russia. They have a very active sale of military parts to Russia.
Other European countries, European leaders are not really taking a hard line with Russia because of their own economic concerns.
AMANPOUR: Well, that certainly has been the case up until now and the thing that is really getting under the skin and under the collar of the British prime minister right now is this French military sales, the helicopter assault ship carrier, and they are very, very upset about that, because as you all know, there is not going to be a war against Russia but sanctions are the way people deal with these kinds of things right now and generally when you start with sanctions, you start with the obvious thing and that is military sails. You start stopping that.
And if France continues with that, it is a very, very bad signal, according to other Western leaders. However, today in Europe they did ratchet up the notion that they would expand sanctions, not make them complete against certain sectors of the economy but against organizations and companies instead of individuals. And certainly something has changed, at least if you listen to all the prime ministers and foreign ministers who've been talking today.
Many of them said, even those who said that they were always willing to give Russia the benefit of the doubt, since what happened on Thursday, that is no longer possible and the whole -- the whole climate has changed in that regard.
COOPER: But it is interesting, Ambassador Taylor, you know, you hear European countries point the finger at France saying, well, we should start with military sanctions and stop the sale of military components. Those are countries that aren't selling weaponry to Russia. But then France will say, well, no, we should start with financial sanctions but a country like Germany or England which has financial ties to Russia, they don't want to start with financial sanctions. So each country in Europe is sort of pointing at the other country and saying well, we should start with sanctions, but not ones that may hurt our pocketbooks. TAYLOR: So that's been the case for the past several weeks. But I agree, actually, on -- with the Russian ambassador there that Christiane interviewed. This is a game changer. This is a real game changer. Things are different now. I expect that the Europeans will be able to work out some way that the Germans, British and French will accept some form of economic sanctions on the Russians.
Even though it was going to be painful for them. That there is a way to spread the burden. The French sail is so outrageous that they will find some way to do that. They can sell them to the United States. We could buy them for our Navy, these naval ships. There are ways this could happen.
COOPER: Ambassador Taylor, good to have you on. Christiane Amanpour as well, fascinating interview today.
This isn't the first time that Russia denied responsibility for commercial airline shot down. You remember Korean Airlines Flight 007, a flight from New York to Seoul. As with Flight 17, hundreds of people were killed and the denial of responsibility came quickly. Randi Kaye looks back.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): September 1st, 1983 Korean Airlines Flight 007 heading from New York's JFK Airport to Seoul, South Korea suddenly becomes a target in the sky. That's the voice of a Soviet fighter pilot taking aim at the airliner.
The plane is carrying 269 people, including at least 22 children and United States Congressman Lawrence McDonald from Georgia. It's been on auto pilot for hours, but somehow has drifted off course and into Soviet air space off the coast of Siberia. It's the height of the cold war. So the Soviets scramble fighter jets. A fighter pilot is ordered to destroy the airplane so he takes aim from about three miles away and fires.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Missile war locked on. I executed the launch. The target is destroyed.
KAYE (on camera): According to Flight 007's cockpit recorder, there is an explosion, but the pilots never regain control of the airplane. They report rapid decompression and emergency descent. The airplane spirals downward for 12 terrifying minutes before crashing into the Sea of Japan. It's destroyed on impact.
(voice-over): President Regan calls the attack a mass cure but the soviets deny any responsibility.
FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: They have persistently refused to admit their pilot fired on the Korean aircraft. They have spun a confused tale of tracking the plane by radar until it just mysteriously disappeared from the radar screens, that no one fire a shot of any kind.
KAYE: When the United States exposed the Soviets by making public the fighter pilot's radio transmissions, the soviet government turned around and blamed the United States, charging that KAL 007 was likely a spy plane, an RC 135 recognizance plane. They concluded a Soviet pilot was directed by his ground command and control units to shoot down an aircraft, which they assumed to be a United States RC 135.
Incredibly, though, three years after that report, the Soviet pilot who shot down Flight 007 told "The New York Times," he had no doubt it was a civilian plane, and not a spy plane. He also told the paper this, "I did not tell the ground that it was a Boeing-type plane. They did not ask me."
All these years later, it's still unclear what caused KAL 007 to fly off course, but the investigation did find pilot error likely contributed, if only an attempt was made by the Soviets to contact the plane by radio, it would have become clear the aircraft was off course and 269 lives would not have been lost. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Having seen what the Soviet Union was capable of and what Vladimir Putin's Russia has said and done about the incident so far. Let's dig deeper next into the question of an actual culpability in all this. We'll return to the evidence, new evidence tonight that a missile did it. That it came from Russia and came with training from Russia.
David Soucie joins us. We'll talk about the physical signs of a missile strike. Lt. Col. Rick Francona has perspective on the intelligence communities' suspicions of direct Russian involvement. A lot ahead, stay tuned.
COOPER: Well, as we've said at the top of the program, the Flight 17 crash site may still be covered of the remains as many as 100 men, women, and children. It's certainly has been the site of a lot of chaotic, careless and callous behavior by the militia that controls the area as well damage done to important potential clues from some of the well-meaning villagers who initially showed up to help.
The question now centers on further recovery efforts and physical clues that may already have been tampered with and of course, the image, everyone has talked about a piece of the 777 peppered with shrapnel damage.
I want to bring in aviation safety analyst, David Soucie, military analyst, Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Rick Francona and aviation correspondent, Richard Quest. David Soucie, when you look at those images, when you look at the pieces of wreckage, it looks basically like it has been hit with a shotgun spraying shrapnel. That's what you would expect from a missile like this.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It is. Some of that damage if the aircraft crashes into a rocky field or something like that, it may be fairly similar to that, but there are some distinct characteristics about this that lead me away from that. What's not there is any kind of exterior, like an engine decompression, engine coming apart uncontained failure that would throw knives. We had sharp, sharp cuts through the skin from something from the engine. This is not that. These are unique in that they are pretty similar in size, the impact.
COOPER: So you're saying if it was an engine failure or coming apart or something mid-air, the actual cuts look different.
SOUCIE: Absolutely different because it's going fast through and titanium and this is aluminum. They are aluminum plugs from what --
COOPER: Colonel, let's talk about that. You and I have talked about what this missile does, how it works, explain it to our viewers here.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The war head is 150 pounds total but not all of that is explosive. It's got an explosive charge and wrapped around it is a metal aluminum shell. It's breaking into a pattern.
COOPER: So when it actually breaks apart it breaks along the lines.
FRANCONA: It's got break lines so it forms diamonds about the size of a quarter, half dollar.
SOUCIE: Which is consistent.
COOPER: Those are sprayed out.
FRANCONA: Just like a shotgun. And they go out and spin and causes tremendous damage, as we see.
COOPER: Taking apart not only engines, but piercing through the aircraft itself.
FRANCONA: Yes, the reason they do this is years ago when these systems were first designed, they knew they probably couldn't hit the aircraft with a solid object so they created a fragmentation and this goes out and cripples the system to the aircraft. We don't always get an aircraft explode, but it cripples all the systems and forces the aircraft down.
COOPER: You know, Richard, we haven't heard a lot in the last 24 hours because we've been so focused on the remains, transportation of the remains, but the idea there could be 100 victims still at the crash site or multiple crash sites is extraordinary and there still is -- should be a big emphasis on the crash sites.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. No question about it. I was always somewhat concerned about the number when we heard 230, 250 people remains had been recovered because of the nature of the search. This was not a very well organized forensic search shoulder to shoulder and as David Soucie said to me earlier that there are parts where seemingly hasn't been looked at on the ground yet.
So it wouldn't surprise me if there is this large discrepancy between the number of bodies that they say they've recovered and there still have to be is when proper professional investigators go in, grid the area and start searching it methodically using the satellite knowing exactly where every bit of the plane likely feel and then following it through to see if there are any bodies.
COOPER: Colonel, I mean, the question so many people certainly in the U.S. intelligence community have and the media around the world have is who pushed the button? Who actually did this? Who made that determination? Is there any way to figure that out unless you have eyewitness accounts, interviews with people who were there, whether it's in the next week or month or years down the road, is that the only way to really be sure?
FRANCONA: Nothing we see on the black boxes and I think we see on site is going to tell us who push the button. We'll know what kind of missile. We'll know all about the weapon, where it came from, what we won't know is who is sitting in that track vehicle pushing the button.
COOPER: Not even signals intercepts that may have taken place.
FRANCONA: It doesn't look like they were communicating because this was operating in a standalone mode. Now, the only way we do this is through finding an eyewitness on the scene and that's going to be difficult because we don't control that area. We could do it, but it's going to take a long, long time.
COOPER: And you were saying this was done a standalone mode. Normally, this type of weapon would be linked electronically with others that would be communicating?
FRANCONA: It's part of a system and there will be a command vehicle and a radar vehicle and then this -- these launchers that we saw. What we're looking at here is probably this thing operating by itself. It can do it. It doesn't have the advantage of information and that's why I think we had this tragedy here is because whoever was sitting in that vehicle did not have access to all the information that could identify that aircraft as a civilian airliner.
COOPER: Colonel Francona, it's good to have you on. Richard Quest, as well. David Soucie, just in terms of the crash scene itself, what do you still really need to determine from the crash scene beyond recovery of the remains, it seems like all evidence points to the missile, is there anything really that you can find out from examining the crash?
SOUCIE: I think that we found out everything that we need to find out. The challenge becomes in proving that this is exactly what happened. Once we get into court, I've been in court many times with aircraft accidents and the things that get thrown out are just preposterous. You don't have the evidence. Who handled it? Who didn't? Maybe it was altered. That's under question in the court of law.
If you start trying to get back to the scene and say, I picked this particular piece up right here and I moved it to this other spot, even the black boxes don't have that traceability. We don't know who handled it and where it went. Those things will be scrutinized. COOPER: Is there anything that could have been done to those black boxes in the time that they were in the hands of these pro-Russian rebels? I mean, this may be incredibly stupid, but can a giant magnet run over the black boxes, do something to the data on those black boxes?
SOUCIE: There is low-technology things you can do to erase those black boxes, no doubt about it.
COOPER: All right, David Soucie, Col. Francona as well, Richard Quest, again, we want to thank our panel.
Up next, the human side of the crash, the sons, daughters, husbands, wives and in some cases, entire families were lost on board that flight. We remember some of them ahead.
COOPER: The passengers that died came from all over the world, nearly two-thirds were Dutch nationals. That's not surprising since the flight, of course, originated in Amsterdam. The Netherlands lost 193 of its citizens when the airliner was shot down. Heart break has been compounded by the unconscionable treatment of the remains and by questions that could never be answered.
At the United Nations, the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, expressed his country's grief and their outrage. Listen to his remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANS TIMMERMANS, DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: How horrible must it have been, the final moments of their lives, when they knew the plane was going down? Did they lock hands with their loved ones? Did they hold their children close to their hearts? Did they look each other in the eyes, one final time in a wordless goodbye? We will never know. The demise of almost 200 of ours left a hole in the hearts of the Dutch nation.
This caused grief, anger and despair. Grief for the loss of the loved ones, anger for the outrage of the downing of a civilian airplane and despair after witnessing the excruciating slow process of securing the crash site and recovering the remains of the victims.
The last couple of days we received very disturbing reports of bodies being moved about and looted for their possessions. Just for one minute, not addressing you as representatives of your countries, but as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, just imagine you first get the news that your husband was killed and then within two or three days, you see images of some thug removing a wedding band from their hands, just imagine this could be your spouse.
To my dying day, I will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs and that human remains should be used in the political game. If somebody here around the table talks about a political game, this is a political game played with human remains and it is despicable.
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COOPER: Despicable indeed. We're committed to sharing the stories of the 298 people killed on board the flight. One of the many haunting facts about the tragedies that whole families perished together. Wiping out generations. Dozens of children still on their summer breaks were on the flight, many with their parents, July is a peak travel season for many families.
COOPER (voice-over): They were heading out on vacations to visit relatives or simply returning home, families on board Malaysia Flight 17 traveling to together tragically lost together. There were four in Gunawan family, they were on their way to a family reunion. Budi Gunawan worked for Malaysia Airlines and was taking his wife, Irene, and their children, Darrell and Cheryl to the Philippines where Irene's family lives. The 20-year-old Darrell was an up and coming DJ in the Netherlands, his little sister Cheryl, just 15 years old.
This Polisons were on their way to Indonesia. The 44-year-old Yuli lost her mother a year earlier and was heartbroken she couldn't attend the funeral. She arranged this trip to visit her mother's grave. Their son was 5 years old, his little sister 3, just 3.
This couple were returning home to Malaysia with their new baby daughter. They brought Kayla to the Netherlands to introduce her to Paul's family. It was the first time meeting her Dutch grandparents. Kayla was just 1-year-old.
The Alans had five in their family, John, a British lawyer, his wife, Sandra, a Dutch elementary school teacher and their three sons, Christopher, Julian and Ian. Friends say they were on their way to a dream vacation in Indonesia, the youngest, just 8.
There were two members, Petra and her 15-year-old son, Gary on board. They were heading to a vacation in Malaysia for single parents and their children and took this picture shortly before takeoff.
Tombi Ji and his wife, Arisa Gazali, were moving to Kuala Lumpur with their four children to start a new life. They were on vacation together in Europe before the big move, tweeting this picture of suitcases as they were checking in for the flight.
Nick Norris was on vacation in Amsterdam with his three grandchildren. The kids needed to get home for school and so Nick was in charge of taking Mo, Evy and Otis on the flight back to Australia. Mo was 12 years old, Evy 10 and Otis just 8. Family members say they take some solace and the fact that Nick was protecting his grandchildren until the very end.
COOPER: We'll have more profiles of the victims in the next hour of 360. We also have much more ahead including new information from the U.S. intelligence community, what they say they now know for sure about the downing of the plane and questions they are hoping to answer.
And the terrible the human toll, fighting in Gaza, whenever you think of politics, why Secretary of State Kerry is now in the region scrambling to arrange some kind of ceasefire. The latest from a very troubled region ahead.
COOPER: Good evening and thanks for joining us on our special extended 360 coverage tonight. We have breaking news on two fronts, the FAA grounding American flights into Tel Aviv because of the fighting and many late developments in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, one of them shocking though perhaps not surprising.
The long delayed recovery of human remains may be far, far from complete. The train said to be bearing some 282 bodies from the crash site may only have carried some 200. Meaning, there could be close to 100 remains, 100 victims with partial sets of victims left on the ground at the crash site.
Also tonight, photographic evidence suggesting not conclusively but to many persuasively that a surface-to-air missile brought the plane down.