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Day of Mourning in Netherlands; Identifying the Remains of Victims; MH-17 Black Boxes Arrive In U.K.; Ukrainian Security Council Spokesman Says Missiles May Have Been Fired From Russia; FAA Extends Ban On U.S. Flights To Tel Aviv

Aired July 23, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks very much for joining us.

On the day of significant developments in the search for answers in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, we begin not there but in a very different place. A different place from the fields where 298 people came to rest, their names you see at the bottom of your screen for the next two hours.

A different place from where they lay seemingly forever, surrounded by armed thugs, by political posturing and propaganda bordering on obscenity. A different world from the war zone that created the conditions in which 298 men, women and children can be blown from the sky. A different place, thank goodness, in every way imaginable.

Today in quiet dignity, the coffins bearing some of the remains of the 298 people aboard Flight 17 finally arrived in the Netherlands.


COOPER (voice-over): They arrived to a nation in mourning, the country stunned by the horror of the loss. Forty coffins carrying the first victims of Flight 17.

The king and queen of the Netherlands were there to greet them, so were the people who loved them. No one yet knows exactly which victims these are.

A day of national mourning in the Netherlands, a day of grief and sorrow around the world. Today, finally, there was dignity.

A bugle's call, followed by a moment of silence. Then, one by one, each unadorned wooden coffin loaded into waiting hearses.

It was a 60-mile journey to the town of Hilversum, the first leg of a long journey home. Tens of thousands lined the route. On the highways cars stopped to watch. And at overpasses, scattered applause as the solemn procession passed underneath.

In churches throughout the Netherlands, prayers were said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Please be with them and stay with them, God, give them lights in the darkness. COOPER: Music helped mourners begin to heal.


COOPER: The coffins finally arrived nearly four hours after landing to roses tossed gently towards the hearses.


COOPER: This was just the beginning, the beginning of the identification process, the beginning of more arrivals still to come.


COOPER: It was an extraordinary thing to witness. According to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Ukraine authorities said expect 74 coffins to depart tomorrow.

Joining us now from Amsterdam is Michel Krielaars of the Dutch paper "NRC Handelsblad," with me here tonight aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Michel, let me start with you. You knew people on board Flight MH-17 and as a citizen of the Netherlands, what was it like to be there today on this first National Day of Mourning in some 50 years?

MICHEL KRIELAARS, JOURNALIST, NRC HANDELSBLAD: I've never seen my people as much in shock as today. I think this is -- when the airplane was shot down, it was a day since the Second World War, and that as many people died in one day because of an act of war as last Thursday, and for me today, my neighbor died, he was the famous HIV researcher, Joep Lange, and a senator for parliament dies. He was an acquaintance of mine.

And I had a feeling even though probably (INAUDIBLE) in those coffins, as I was very close to them, and I was sitting at the office of my newspaper this afternoon, and then watched it on television when the U-2 airplanes arrived at Eindhoven Airport.

And I really was very moved and I've seen people in tears. Many of my colleges, as you know, journalists are very often very noisy people. They were all so quiet, they were all probably in tears or very emotional.

COOPER: Michel, Richard Quest and I had the privilege really of anchoring our coverage for about two hours this afternoon as the hearses made the procession and it was just extraordinary. Richard talked about a sense of community that, you know, the people who were lining the roads, the family members who were there, they didn't know who was in those coffins, but it didn't -- it almost didn't matter.

There was this sense of being together and I certainly had the sense that it goes beyond just the Netherlands, the sense of community really was something today that all those who were watching around the world today truly, truly felt, and you must feel that very strongly there right now. KRIELAARS: Yes, it's -- Holland used to be a very church-going

country 50 years ago and today it was like the times of the past return. People were united. They were standing on the roads throwing flowers to the cars with the coffins, and it was like in a movie. Actually, I couldn't see my eyes when I saw all those people being united everywhere and actually it seems last Thursday the people we had everywhere like that.

COOPER: Richard, again, I mean, you and I watched this along with the world for much of this afternoon, and I keep coming back to the word that you use, community, and just the enormity of the moment.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: As I said at the time, today we were all Dutch, we were all German, we were all New Zealand, Canada, British, and German, Malaysians, Australians, South Africans.

COOPER: Indonesians and Filipinos.

QUEST: Indonesians. Filipinos. And today we were all those countries, our individual national identities were subsumed as we join something that was far greater, and what that greatness was today was the reclaiming of decency and the reclaiming of principle and value, because no matter how heinous the act that had taken place that caused these people to perish or how they had been treated, body bags on trains across central eastern Europe, today we were able to say no, this is what we stand for.

So on one point, and I don't know whether you feel the same way, but at one point, it was the most difficult of assignments to talk this through but frankly, it was also one of the easiest because you had to look at it and it wrote and spoke itself.

COOPER: And also, Michel, I mean, I -- one of the things I tweeted out this afternoon was thank God for the Netherlands, the way you came together and the way your country showed such dignity and such grace and juxtapose -- particularly it shines so brightly, juxtapose to the horror that we have witnessed, not just in the act of the shooting down of this plane, but the horror of the day after day of the way the victims of this crash have been treated really up until, up until today, up until this moment.

KRIELAARS: And you're completely right. Truly you have seen the speech of Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans gave in the Security Council, and it was also a very emotional speech. And it was a speech about decency, about respect, about humanity and that's the thing which does exist in eastern Ukraine at the time being.

COOPER: And it's one of the things we replayed, in fact, today in the coverage, Richard, and I honestly can't even repeat what the foreign minister said. I can't get through it because I find it so moving to this moment.

QUEST: Well, you'll forgive me if I do remind you what he said. As they -- after the attack happened, let us try and imagine what those people were going through, did they lock hands for that last moment? Was there a silent glance between them as they had a silent good-bye? Did they hold their children more closely as they realized the end might be close?

You can't help but recognize that this is the clarion call. Politicians are elected for a purpose. Frans Timmermans told us yes, we are elected and now we must give voice to that which has to be done.

COOPER: Michel, it also is stunning when you consider, this is just the first, this is just the beginning, there are, I believe, two more planes said to be arriving tomorrow? This is just the beginning of this process that will take weeks, if not months in some cases. Do you know what happens tomorrow? I mean, is -- tomorrow is not a National Day of Mourning, it's not, correct?

KRIELAARS: No, tomorrow, two other planes will land. I think one of them will take 75 bodies to Holland and there will be a small ceremony, but it will be the same ceremony as there has been today at Eindhoven Airport. There will be present one cabinet minister, there will be present several officials from the government.

Of course, the king and queen will be there and the prime minister also, but the whole ceremony with all this military and police being present will be the same as today. And they will also drive in a convoy to Hilversum, to this military base where they are going to proceed with the identification of the bodies.

QUEST: Unless anybody thinks that this is in any shape or form moving to a closure or a conclusion, 74 coffins will be returned to the Netherlands, 40 came back today but they are coffins. We do not know how many victims are inside. It's gruesome, it's distasteful, it has to be faced that there may still be -- there probably are still recoveries to be made.

COOPER: And we know that for a fact. One of the OSCE monitors today in an interview I saw said that he was out at the site, one of the sites, and saw people still out there. We don't know how many, and again, there is still a lot to learn.

We're going to play some of that -- what the foreign minister said later on in our broadcast because I do want people to hear, Michel, what your foreign minister said at the United Nations. It was just such a powerful statement of humanity in the face of all this.

Michel, I appreciate you being on with us on this broadcast, and again, my thanks and I think the thanks of many people for the way your country and your countrymen have handled this.

Thank you very much.

KRIELAARS: You're welcome.

COOPER: Richard is going to stay with us for a moment.

I do want to go to Ukraine where Ivan Watson spent the day at amazingly the often abandoned crash site or one of them.

Ivan, you were there. What was it like today? IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you said, it

felt very much abandoned. I was struck that on a day when the Dutch were coming out and showing such grace, after the entire world had been calling for free access to this crash site, even saying the United Nations Security Council resolution calling for it, the sight itself had no security whatsoever. I did not see any investigators working through the ruins.

In fact, much of the debris clearly has been removed in some of the areas, just within the last 48 hours. We know that this site has been contaminated again and again and again over the last six days. Again, no protection whatsoever, just wreckage and burned grass in these farm fields of eastern Ukraine. The only people at sunset kind of remotely keeping an eye on the area were the villagers living nearby who seemed to have gone back to farming.

So yes, a place where these people died last Thursday, very much feeling abandoned and ignored right now.

COOPER: I mean, this is really extraordinary to hear this and again, it points to the value and the importance of actually going and reporting and going to the front lines as nobody does better than Ivan Watson.

But, Ivan, what is to be done? I mean, if you can get out to this search area, why are there not, again, this -- any international bodies out there or international bodies is the wrong word, any international monitors or investigators or at the very least people there to search for the dead, to search for the victims? There may be as many as 98 to 100 victims still out there laying out at various scenes, sites all throughout that crash zone.

What is -- where are they?

WATSON: I don't have an easy answer for that, Anderson. We know that international monitors from the OSCE have been making daily visits out there. We know that there have been Ukrainian government, civil aviation experts who've been able to go visit, even though the separatists are at war with the Ukrainian government and they don't recognize it.

We know that there have been some forensics experts, members of the Malaysian delegation who have gone out to the crash site. But the fact is, is that you have the giant tail of this doomed plane just laying in a farm field and other scraps of this plane just kind of daunting the surrounding farm fields.

If there is any perhaps consolation, this corner of Ukraine is a beautiful area. They are rolling fields. It is pastoral and there perhaps maybe some peace in that, but, no, I do not see what we had heard was supposed to be the world's biggest criminal investigation crime scene.

COOPER: And Richard Quest, I'm not even talking about investigating the crime scene, I'm not even talking about looking through wreckage, I'm talking about 98 souls, 100 souls, as many as somebody making an effort to bring them home.

QUEST: It's inconceivable what -- what Ivan is telling us tonight. It is inconceivable that it is being so difficult but I'm guessing, and Ivan can confirm or otherwise, that the issue is safety. The issue is a war that continues in the very region and --

COOPER: But I mean --


COOPER: But, Ivan, you're saying, I mean, OSC monitors can go to this site and are now getting unfettered access from what I've been told. They are not obviously trained or even equipped with body bags, with anything to pick up the dead, but getting some people out there to bring back the remains to -- with body bags, that is not a -- that complicated undertaking if OSC monitors can get there, you would think some teams of forensic investigators could get out there to at least, again, bring these men and women and children and infants in some cases home.

WATSON: Again, I don't have an easy answer for this. I do have to stress that, OK, this crash site that has been the focus of so much attention, yes, you can travel freely to it but other parts of the surrounding region are not easy to move around.

Anderson, today, just about a half hour's drive away from where the remains of Flight MH-17 are laying in farm fields, the separatists shot down two Ukrainian war planes, fighter jets. They shot them down they say with shoulder mounted surface-to-air missiles. So if you can imagine, this place where this commercial airliner with all these innocent victims were killed, overhead we were hearing throughout the day the roar of war planes very high overhead and other planes were shot down just six days later.

The Ukrainian government says it was at an altitude of 5,000 meters, and the separatists do block access to other areas in the region because they say of ongoing battles. The region there is an active war zone, and perhaps, that's a reason why bigger teams haven't come to the scene there.

COOPER: Ivan Watson, appreciate the reporting, Richard Quest, as well.

We of course will talk more tonight and the days ahead about what the pieces of the plane themselves have to say about what and who brought it down.

Next, what the people who lost loved ones are saying including the words of a grandmother who lost her two precious grandsons. They managed to see some hope, some hope today through her tears.


COOPER: As hard as it is to consider what the families of 298 people are going through right now, as hard it is to talk about, it is also an honor and inspiration to speak with some of them. And we want to continue to honor them by showing you all their names, you're going to see them throughout these two hours at the bottom of the screen tonight.

We've had the privilege and have been awestruck, frankly, at the generosity and love that survives inside people who have been through so much, as "NEW DAY's" Chris Cuomo discovered this morning.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY (on camera): I'm standing right now with the Calehr family. This is Harun, this is Samira and this is Yasmin.

Harun's two nephews were lost on Flight MH-17. This is their mother. This is their grandmother.

How difficult has this been to lose the little ones? To lose the one you care about the most and in a way where they were not only far away but everything that followed afterwards. How have you managed to stay together, the family?

HARUN CALEHR, LOST NEPHEW IN MH-17 CRASH: I don't know honestly, Chris. I think it's adrenaline. I mean, it's just indescribable. We're in a haze. We're so numb, we're so sad. And of course we keep thinking about the most important thing, how much the kids suffer and we just hope and pray that they didn't. That it was all over very quickly.

CUOMO: Harun, I'm sorry to meet you this way.

CALEHR: Thank you so much. So am I.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

Samira, our heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry for what you've lost, and Yasmin.

YASMIN CALEHR, LOST GRANDKIDS IN MH-17 CRASH: Thank you, and thanks CNN to show the world what never should have been shown. It's not just us, it is people crying every minute for the same reason we are crying.

I don't know where humanity is going but when I see you and even and the flowers, there is always hope, and we have to move on, I don't know how but we have to because they were incredible kids. I just told you, they were just incredible. We never knew how many lives they touched until now.


COOPER: As we mentioned earlier, 74 coffins will be returning from Ukraine tomorrow in addition to the 40 today. The remains being examined and identified at a Dutch military base.

In addition to being our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has also received training in forensic medicine. He joins us tonight with insight on what investigators hope to learn. He joins us from the Netherlands.

Sanjay, how difficult is this identification process? Obviously, you know, there is a whole range of what authorities there are going to have to deal with right now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is no question. Lots of different groups of people involved. This isn't standard sort of autopsy. You know, in some ways, when you're doing an autopsy, there's three things they're trying to establish, which is cause of death, the manner of death and name, identification of the person. Here you have a pretty good idea in the cause and manner of death. So this is really about identification.

We know that there were 40 coffins brought, for example, here to the Netherlands, but we don't know what that represents, how many souls, how many different people that could be more than 40, it could be less than 40. So just the basics like that need to be established.

But I'll tell you in some ways, it's surprisingly simple. There is some basic things, Anderson, you want to look at things like clothing, identifying body marks, piercings, tattoos, to try and make some of those identifications. Dental records become increasingly important in this situation because we heard so much about the idea that the remains -- there may have been contamination of the site. It could interfere with things like DNA analysis, even fingerprint analysis, so dental records, again, a very simple thing, something that's been a gold standard will probably be much more likely used here -- Anderson.

COOPER: And it's difficult to hear and to talk about this but family members have already been briefed on all of this by Dutch officials. I spoke to one family member, a man who lost two of his nephews on board the flight, who said Dutch officials were very blunt with them and he actually appreciated that, that they went through in great detail how the identification process would take place. They already took DNA samples.

Is there a sense how long it may take for the identification process to be complete? Certainly, on those people who have actually been recovered because, of course, there are still others who are still out in eastern Ukraine.

GUPTA: Right. Yes, well, you know, on the first point, I mean, the situation -- I mean, just imagine these families are getting calls, they want to make sure that the families get one call, that the investigators don't have to keep going back to the house over and over again, so they do need to be blunt in terms of trying to obtain -- sort of identifying features of the person but also dental records, possibly DNA, even if they can't find DNA of the individual in question, they can use certain programs to take DNA from first-degree relatives and make a match that way.

But taking that all into account, it's hard to say how long this will take. They create these large temporary morgues with these different stations to accomplish all this work. You have some 75 investigators on the ground doing this sort of thing. So, you know, the Tripoli plane crash back in 2010, Anderson, you may remember, 104 people, took about 30 days to get back positive identifications. So it's a little bit of an open question.

COOPER: Sanjay, it's good to have you there, thanks.

Well, coming up, the latest on the evidence that U.S. officials are assembling including intelligence on two Ukrainian war planes shot down today.


COOPER: Welcome back. It bears repeating in light of Ivan Watson's reporting from Eastern Ukraine. It can't be said enough. Everything that's happened there is such a contrast to what we saw in the Netherlands today. The same holds true for the voice and data recorders, which has been taken by the rebels, kept for days and handed over in a circus of a ceremony in the early hours of yesterday morning.

They are now in Great Britain being carefully, quietly analyzed by international investigators. Joining us with more on that is Max Foster in London. So what conditions, do we know, are the black boxes in?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They arrived. The voice recorder is the first assessed. It was damaged, but they opened it up and downloaded the data and will start going through the data as of tomorrow. The other box, the flight's data recorder, they will start working on that tomorrow, as well.

But Anderson, it's a slower process than it would normally be because the Dutch leading this investigation have asked this British team to be very careful about looking for any signs that the boxes have been tampered with, manipulated in any way. So they are being careful about how they sort of access the boxes and then look at the information inside.

COOPER: I understand you spoke with the British security source who said that there was evidence that separatists at one point had talked about actually handing over the black boxes to Russia.

FOSTER: Well, it's interesting because speaking to security sources here in London, there is a degree of frustration with the whole investigation to quote one of them, the main suspects in the shooting down of MH-17 have effectively had unrestricted access to a crime scene for more than five days. Huge amounts of frustration.

You can see this in the language they come back to me with, and what they are doing is looking at all the information in front of them or the intelligence and they are saying they find particularly persuasive, conversations that were intercepted by Ukrainian security services.

And in those conversations, which as they say, are persuasive in their opinion, you hear the separatists talking about moving bodies on the site, bringing parts of other planes to putting them on the site to confuse the situation and make the investigation harder and also yes, the boxes, conversations about sending the boxes to Moscow. So there is a real concern that we're not going to get the full truth, even at the end of this investigation because it was so compromised at the start.

COOPER: It continues to be. Max Foster, thank you. As U.S. intelligence analysts try to collect evidence from the Flight 17 incident, there are also investigating the downing of two Ukrainian military planes. Rebels have claimed credit for shooting down the military planes of Donetsk and U.S. officials are looking into the possibility missiles were fired from the Russian side of the border.

Meanwhile, there is a troop build-up at the border with tens of thousands of Russian troops within five miles. Barbara Starr now joins me from the Pentagon. What do we know about this buildup?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson. The U.S. believes now there are 12,000 to 15,000 Russian troops on the border and in the last several days, they have moved very close, less than five miles from the border in some cases, some of them broken up into small groups basically right on the border with Eastern Ukraine. Why are they doing this?

The U.S. intelligence community believes that Russians may be positioning themselves to be able indeed to fire from their side of the border. Surface to air missiles, rockets, artillery, what have you. If they can do that and stay on their side of the border and fire into Ukraine and the rebel-held areas, they can carry out attacks and have plausible deniability.

All of this goes to the point that Vladimir Putin's military forces not behaving like the community of nations that most militaries do behave in in Europe and the west, certainly. So there is a lot of concern about it. They don't know what will happen next.

COOPER: Is there anything new on the shootdown of MH-17?

STARR: I spoke to an official today who said they now calculate when the missile was launched against the aircraft, that missile flew perhaps for less than 10 seconds before it hit the plane and the plane then, of course, broke into so many pieces and everything fell to the ground. So it was a very short engagement. The fire control radar from the missile launcher locked onto the plane, launched the missile and basically it was all over in 10 seconds.

COOPER: Extraordinary it happen that fast. Barbara Starr, appreciate that.

We'll continue to follow all the developments on Flight 17 throughout this and the next hour as well. We're on until the 10:00 hour tonight.

When we come back, growing controversy over the FAA's decision to ground flights to Tel Aviv for another day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: The FAA has extended its ban on U.S. airlines flying to and from Tel Aviv. The ban has been stretched until tomorrow afternoon and was put in place after a rocket hit about a mile from Ben-Gurion International Airport. The airport is still in business, however, despite U.S. and many European airlines cancelling their flights.

A Hamas spokesman says stopping traffic is, quote, "A great victory for resistance." Israel's government says the airport is safe and former New York Major Michael Bloomberg agrees. He flew to Tel Aviv on Israel's El Al Airlines and spoke with Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem along with the mayor of that city.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: You cannot shut down everything just because one terrorist someplace on the other side of the world says I'm going to be a threat.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Here is what folks will say, you're a pilot, we know, but these are experts at the FAA. Are you suggesting that the FAA is being politicized?

BLOOMBERG: I have no idea. You have to call the FAA.

BLITZER: In their statement --

BLOOMBER: I didn't write the statement. I don't know what they said and I can' you can't put words in my mouth. The FAA is well-meaning. It's a great organization and make airlines and airports safe in America, but not as safe as Ben Gurion and El Al and the fact that one rocket falls far away from this airport, a mile away doesn't mean you should shut down air traffic into a country and paralyze the country.


COOPER: CNN's aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, joins me now. So the FAA is coming under a lot of criticism for the decision with all sorts of political allegations being tossed around. Have they responded?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, they really are pushing back against this thought that there is some sort of political or politics playing into their decision to ban these flights here. They are saying that this is strictly a security issue, and they spell it out in their announcement they made today when they extended that ban for another 24 hours.

They essentially said the concern is the hazard that's created by the conflict going on in Israel and Gaza. Again, they say this is all about security, has nothing to do with politics. They have been working with the Israeli government to make sure that the risks that they feel that U.S. aircrafts could face is mitigated before they open up that airport and say it's OK to fly there once again -- Anderson.

COOPER: Rene, is the FAA the only agency that banned nation's flights and is there any option for carriers to work around any kind of a ban if they wanted to, for U.S. carriers, if one of the airlines decided to, are they allowed to work around that FAA ban?

MARSH: Right, we did see today that there was one Italian airline that landed at an airport about 150 miles south of the airport in Tel Aviv. They landed 14 flights there, again, one example of them working around the system, no word of any other airline doing that, we did pose this question to the FAA saying look, is this a viable option for you as carriers and at this point, no indication that it is -- Anderson.

COOPER: Rene, thanks very much. Back again is Richard Quest and joining us now, aviation analyst and private pilot, Miles O'Brien. Obviously, the FAA has no influence on international carriers.

QUEST: Right, which is the European equivalent of the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Authority, they have put out their advisory, but they only say they strongly recommend.

COOPER: Right.

QUEST: European carriers don't go to Ben Gurion. British Airways continue to fly into Ben Gurion. Other airlines as Rene said have decided to make that choice as well. There is no ban on European carriers, although large numbers have chosen not to fly.

COOPER: Miles, what do you make of this because Israeli officials are saying look, this airport is perfectly safe?

O'BRIEN: In the context of what we've seen with MH-17 it's probably a prudent thing to do what is happening right now. Let's not forget, this is initiated by an airline, Delta Airlines and other airlines followed and the FAA followed them, and to me that's a good sign. That means the airlines are seeing a threat and taking in their own initiative.

COOPER: You're saying prudent because God forbid an airline is shot out of the sky, then there is going to be tremendous finger pointing at the carrier saying well, you all knew there were rockets coming into Israel, why did you continue to fly?

O'BRIEN: It wouldn't be safe to fly into London during the blitz. This is -- there is rockets in the air near the airport. Is it prudent to fly in there right now? I think all due caution would tell you not to do that.

QUEST: Well, except the Israelis say that there is an iron dome system, which defends the airport and the approach and departure routes --

COOPER: And these --

O'BRIEN: Not a silver bullet.

COOPER: These are also not guided missiles. These are rockets.

O'BRIEN: These are rockets, right. QUEST: I'm not sure that I agree with you on this. I don't, on this question of the airlines, the airlines can make their own risk assessment, but it has to be governments that have the ultimate responsibility to say it is safe or it is not safe. Otherwise, we end up with this patch work, Lufthansa is not flying. British Airways is.

O'BRIEN: Well, it's interesting you should say that because in the wake of the nuclear industry in this country gathered together and started doing their own self-policing and it has enhanced the safety of nuclear operations in this country. What we've seen in the wake of MH-17 is the CEO of Emirates, who you're familiar with and have spoken with taking the lead and saying we the airlines need to start taking our own responsibility for the risk assessments. I don't think it's unreasonable for the airlines to take some of this responsibility.

COOPER: The climate in Washington is not surprising that we're now hearing from opponents of President Obama saying that this is part of his efforts. Senator Ted Cruz released a statement saying the pacts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel to force our ally to comply with his foreign policy demands. Does the White House even have sway over the FAA in these terms?


QUEST: They have the potential to, as the White House press secretary said yesterday, we're not going to overrule the FAA on this issue, but it's not a question of whether they should or shouldn't. The FAA is the responsible authority charged with looking into this and they have made their judgment rightly or wrongly. They have left some wriggle room, Anderson.

Today's material was different from yesterday. It had a phrase in it saying the FAA is looking at significant new information provided by the Israelis. My guess is, that's the get out of jail free card.

COOPER: The idea Ted Cruz is saying directly that President Obama wants an economic boycott of Israel, there is absolutely no factual evidence of that. There is no indication of that and the amount of money the United States gives to Israel is huge for military purposes. So again, it's kind of a stunning statement.

O'BRIEN: I don't see any evidence of this and God forbid that the political apparatus can control the FAA in that manner, we're all in trouble in the skies if that happens.

COOPER: Miles O'Brien, Richard Quest, thank you. Just ahead the Flight 17 loved ones and what they experienced today.


COOPER: Today was the first tangible step in a journey that in truth will never end for those who lost loved one on Flight 17. The first remains have left the war zone where they fell. They are a step closer tonight to their families. There will be many more steps ahead, 298 died when the flight was shot down. That will be the number forever attached to this tragedy, but doesn't begin convey the full scope of it.


COOPER (voice-over): The tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is not only in the 298 lives lost so suddenly, but also in the loved ones left behind, left to cope with their grief. He is known as Bobby was a flight attendant for Malaysia Airlines. He swapped flights at the last moment so he could get home early. His father told reporters, fate played him an unfair hand. Bobby's wife was also a flight attendant.

She narrowly missed going down with MH-370 months earlier, switching off that flight at the last minute. She left a message for her husband on Facebook writing, "We know you are gone and won't be coming back. I wish you a safe journey and I know you will go to a much better place."

Ten-year-old Miguel Keller was on the flight with his older brother, Shaka, who was 19. They were on their way to Bali to visit their grandmother. In the days before the flight, Miguel was nervous, asking his mother, what happens when a plane crashes and clinging to her before falling asleep on the night before his trip. Miguel's grandmother says the family is heartbroken and lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to move on. I don't know how but we have to because they were incredible kids. I just told you, they were just incredible. We never knew how many lives they touched until now.

CUOMO: The 29-year-old Rob Elli was traveling in Europe for a month visiting Rottweiler breeders. He bred the dogs in New Zealand. When the news of the flight reached his family, his mother sent him this mess, "Your booked plane has been blown up literally, so wherever you are, whatever mess you are finding yourself in, we would be delighted to hear you missed your flight. We just want to know that you're alive, my darling."

Rob leaves behind a wife and two young sons. They posted a statement on Facebook saying simply, "Rob was our everything. He will live forever in our family." Vilam Rocholden was moving to Bali to be with an Indonesian woman named Christine. The 53-year-old former Dutch soldier was so excited about his move, he was dancing before the flight while speaking to Christine and her kids on Skype. When Christine was told about what happened, she posted a distraught message on Facebook, that said, "Hope you will be fine, God, please, I beg you."

Nick Norris was on vacation with his family including his three young grandchildren Otis, Mo and Evie. Their parents, Anthony and Rin, wanted to stay in Amsterdam a few extra days. So Granddad Nick as he was called was taking the kids back to Australia by himself. The pain for Anthony and Rin is intense and relentless they say, a hell beyond hell.

In a written message they say, quote, "Our babies are not here with us. We need to live with this act of horror every day in every moment for the rest of our lives. No one deserves what we are going through, not even the people who shot our whole family out of the sky."


COOPER: The losses are so unthinkable. People around the world in the wake of 9/11 said we are all Americans now and tonight as Richard Quest said, we're all Dutch and Malaysian and German and Belgian and proud to be all 11 nationalities who lost loved ones on Flight 17. Our coverage continues in a moment.


COOPER: Good evening. Thanks very much for joining us and watching our special extended version of 360 coverage tonight. On a day of significant development, the search for answers in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

We begin not there but in a very different place. A different place from the feels for the 298 people came to rest, their names down there at the bottom of your screen tonight. A different place from where they lay seemingly forever surrounded by armed thugs, political posturing and propaganda bordering up an obscenity. A different world from the war zone that created the conditions in which 298 men, women, and children could be blown from the sky. A different place, thank goodness, in every way imaginable.