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EARLY START

Latest on Malaysian Airliner Shootdown; Netherlands Holds Ceremony as Victim Caskets Arrive in the Country

Aired July 24, 2014 - 04:30   ET

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


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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning the FAA lifting its travel ban to Tel Aviv. U.S. flights be now resumed at ban lasting only 36 hours but causing plenty of controversy. We're live in Israel, why the airspace is now been declared safe.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Also happening now -- Somber ceremonies playing out as more coffins holding victims of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 leave Ukraine bound for the Netherlands as the plane's black boxes are analyzed. Investigators looking for any clues as to who shot that plane down. We're covering all the angles of this developing story for your course. Welcome back to Early Start everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, 31 minutes past the hour I would welcome all of our viewers here in the U.S. and of course all of you around the globe.

Breaking overnight a ban on flights into and out of Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv has been lifted by the FAA. Is really officials pressed hard to convince the agency to reverse its position.

Now it's up to Delta, United, and U.S. Airways to determine when to resume their flights. I want to get right to Martin Savidge live from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv about half an hour ago you had sirens blaring there. You had explosions in the air presumably from the Iron Dome trying to shoot down rockets coming into the vicinity of the airport. Tell us what's happening now and whether you're seeing more activity today in terms of take offs and landings than you did yesterday.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, well, for the second time, actually in the half hour we have heard more detonations of what appears to be Israel's Iron Dome. To give you an idea of how that sounds any American listening to fireworks in the air and you got loud bang at the very end of the display that is what it sounds like when one of these missiles goes up and makes an intercept. So that means sound like, you know, four of those going up over the span of about half an hour the last ones were sounding more distant but still you could hear them if you're standing here at Ben Gurion Airport. The other ones that came just about the top of the hour those sounded actually much closer to the vicinity. The latest ones were not prompted by Siren, (inaudible) farther away.

Take a look at the airport right now, I mean, not pretty much it says the story we're at the departure terminal here and those gates those areas behind those, those would be normally where you would see the carriers like the Delta, like U.S. Airways, like United Airlines, or you would see the major international carrier. Now British Airways don't come here but otherwise most of the big European carriers have not been coming.

Now, the FAA banned being lifted of course very welcome news for the Israeli Government hear that have been pushing hard and saying that it was a mistake and an overreaction. However you're not seeing the planes as yet because of course for the American carriers it is now up to their individual airlines to determine whether or not they feel it's appropriate to come back. And then it's like we've been having though in the half hour or not likely to reassure them although, the Israeli's will maintain that they have made this area even more of secure than what it was, Christine.

ROMANS: You know the Hamas Spokeman yesterday telling Wolf Blitzer frankly that, you know, the airport because it has military presence there it is a target for Hamas. And we'll continue to be certainly showing down the airport it's something that Hamas leadership is very, very happy about shutting down U.S. flights to the airport something that Hamas leadership we're very, very happy about.

SAVIDGE: They were I mean, you know, they had stated this was something they had targeted before as you say because of military installations that are near the airport but they also know that if you can stop commercial and civilian aviation for coming in here, it's a big blow. It hurts the pride of a nation, it implies that Israel is not as secure as it says it is and then on top of that there is the financial impact. Israel maintains it is secure, it is safe, the flights should come.

HARLOW: OK. (Inaudible) Martin, at Ben Gurion Airport.

Now a top rebel commander's stunning admission -- Alexander Khodakovsky telling Reuters that separatist did have control of a Buk missile system at the time Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, and that it indeed may have come from Russia. Now Khodakovsky goes on to say it was probably sent back to Russia in order to "remove proof of its presence." Later, though, he told Russian media that his comments to Reuters were taken out of context.

On the investigation front, air crash Expert say they have been able to download valid information from the jetliner's cockpit voice recorder. They also importantly say there is no sign at those black boxes have been tampered with -- all of these as the violence rages in that region right around the crash site. Two Ukrainian fighter jet shot down less than 15 miles from the wreckage of MH17. This as Australia announces that it is deploying 50 national police officials to London for possible International deployment to Eastern Ukraine of course their goal like so many is to secure this crash site and do a proper investigation. Let's bring in Nick Paton Walsh. He's live from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Nick spend a lot of time at Eastern Ukraine over all. He spent a lot time with the crash site. At first, let's talk about the victims. We know that more of them will be returned to Netherlands this morning, 74 coffins do we know at this point if we're anywhere close to bringing all of the victims' home.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, about 26 minutes from now, we will see the second set of planes take off from here Kharkiv to the Netherlands again a Dutch C-130 followed by an Australian C-17. They'll have 74 coffins on board now I've just spoken to representative of the Dutch here. They say that they hope tomorrow the last loads will go. They may need one more flight potentially but its hope that work can finish out tomorrow that will probably involve another 74 coffins. Now, do the math quickly that's 188 coffins perhaps could be slightly higher or lower. The thing is they say a number of coffins sadly doesn't represent the number of bodies specifically on the train because there are body parts in body bags. And some body bags go into coffins is more than one inside each coffins.

So, it's extraordinarily gruesome task, you know, I'm sorry that I've to go into this details but tries to explain the nature of the job here of the investigators. And also the fact that the final toll of what really how many people was on that refrigerated train that came from the crash site were only been known once they've been able to do their investigative work back in the Netherlands rather than when they finish going through the fourth refrigerator wagon perhaps at some point today or tomorrow.

HARLOW: You know, Nick, what we heard time and time again yesterday as this country literally stopped and honored all of the victims is that they're finally getting the dignity and the decency in the treatment that they deserve I mean not one of these victims, you know, was from either of the countries in this conflict. And they're the innocent 298 victims of this fighting.

When you talk about the investigations are then trying to find any more remains. It clearly hasn't been secured yet and so many people are scratching their heads saying why. Why have investigators of big international team of investigators not been able to get there yet?

WALSH: But there is a Civil War in Eastern Ukraine that has been for a long time, Not always in the world's spotlight about a lot of heavy weaponry being used. And it's scrappy conflict between the military. That isn't particularly well equipped and the series of separatist rebels who often are divided amongst themselves, you mentioned that leader who said that being a weapon system who could've brought down the airplane here and have to ship back to Russia while he reportedly is feuding with other separatist to militant leaders.

It's an enormous mess, so trying to negotiate passage for International Inspectors ...

HARLOW: Yeah. WALSH: ... even Australian police potentially arriving in London to come here later. That's an extraordinary hard to task if that safety the actual security to how it intact is that crash site is already too compromise. It's going to be a very messy process, but it's something they have to do everything they can about for those relatives of those who died on board that plane. Although, many I think fail the final results will end up being inconclusive. Because the damage done to the aircraft and the scrappy messy nature of where the crash site really is now.

HARLOW: I think that such an important point to make because the world has seen all of the journalist including yourself there. And have been asking that question but of course it is dangerous for anyone to go there with those two planes being shut down yesterday within 15 miles of the crash zone. We appreciate the update Nick, thank you.

ROMANS: My heart is so heavy this morning in the Netherlands.

The first 40 coffins from MH17 arriving Wednesday marked by Somber ceremonies and steady flow of quite tears. By tomorrow all the coffins carrying the remains of flight 17 victims that have been retrieved so far expected to be on death soil.

HARLOW: And joining us live from Amsterdam is journalist Laura Starink, I hope I pronounced your last name right. Laura, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it very much. I think we want to start with this. First of all our deepest condolences to you and your entire nation. And it was a beautiful tribute that you gave to the victims' yesterday, one that they'd certainly, certainly deserve. Can you tell us about what it's been like for you on the ground this country coming together in this way to give them the honor that they deserve?

LAURA STARINK, DUTCH JOURNALIST: Well, I think it was very impressive day. It was a kind of a day of relief because of their almost week of waiting for the bodies to come home seeing their horrible pictures of the crash site. The rebels were walking -- taking things off people, were referring disrespectful to the bodies. It was like a sign of relief and hold on that have lost at least part of the bodies have been recovered. And it was an atypical day also because a day of mourning is very atypical for Holland. Just two days ago, our Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that there wouldn't be a day of mourning because that was not corresponding to the character of the Dutch Nation. But also talking to the relatives, he decided otherwise and I think he wisely did.

ROMANS: I think the character of the Dutch Nation was really on display beautifully yesterday. I mean, really -- there are no words for what that look like -- And you're just from top to bottom, it was so well done and I'd like to know what happens next year. I mean the Dutch, in terms of the investigation, in terms of the crash site, in terms of trying to remove the other victims who may still be there. Tell us a little bit about how the government is working to try to bring everyone home. STARINK: Yes, well of course this is a very difficult task. The Dutch together with the Australians would probably take the lead in the international investigation. But so far, they haven't arrived big groups of investigators on this part of the crime which will make it very difficult to find out what really happened there. And that of course is because of their situation that the rebels. They spoke now in Holland about a police mission or maybe even a military mission to go with this international team that will recover the lost parts of the body and that will research the signs to find out what exactly happened and who are perpetuators. This although is a very -- is a difficult -- this will be a difficult mission because as you know it's a war zone. And there's not much experienced with this kind of situation.

ROMANS: Please tell me just what did they do the Dutch people, do they want sanctions? Do they want punishment on Vladimir Putin?

STARINK: Well, yesterday, I heard one relative say, one work which was boycott. The Dutch have had pretty tough year with Putin. The last year we have seen numerous incidents in which the best way involved, just to name a few, there was talk about boycott of the Olympics because of the Anti-Gay Law that is being adapted in Russia. There has been the international conflict around the Arctic sunrise Greenpeace Ship have lost under a Dutch flag arrested in Mormant (ph) and the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs had to release the truth.

And so, but all the time, the Dutch government has been very, very cautious with sanctions because the economic and financial interest with Russia are enormous. But, both the Prime Minister Rutte as our Minister Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans who did a very moving speech in the United Nation Security Council. They said more or less this is a game changer something substantially has changed in our relationship to Russia.

ROMANS: All right. We continue to watch that. No, question and you're right. That speech the UN (inaudible) very moving.

HARLOW: Incredible.

ROMANS: And I think it was just a real tests to your countrymen. Thank you so much Laura for your report this morning

HARLOW: Thank you. We appreciate it very much. All right, well, now, is the world ready to punish Russia more heavily. President Vladimir Putin facing ay harsh criticism for his government alleged ties to those rebels in Eastern Ukraine this morning or in the coming days. The Kremlin could be hit in the wallet. We're going to talk about that part of the story. Those potential harsher sanction next.

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HARLOW: According to U.S. intelligence officials, Russian troupes are gathering along the Ukraine border sending tanks and artillery into rebel-held territory while maintaining the ability to launch attack without actually entering country. Now, all lies on the European Union, as they discussed new tough, tough sanctions against Russia. Diana Maghay live from Moscow. So, Diana, I know this may not come this morning today but in the coming days it seems pretty imminent that Europe is really gathering together getting ready to enact tougher sanctions about against Vladimir Putin and Russia, then the United States at this point right?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, I think the line from Europe now is that enough is enough that the crash of MH17 and the front of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine which is being fueled in the eyes of the West by Vladimir Putin has allowed for this terrible situations to happened has been a sticking point for Europe to overcome its differences really in terms of sanctions against Russia. And really press ahead with some tough measures.

So, they are now discussing banning access to capital markets for some of Russia's biggest banks and whole sectoral sanctions on. For example, energy and defense sectors which are both crucial to the Russian economy. Russia is already having towards the recession even though the government, the Kremlin has brushed off if you will sanctions to date with an element of (inaudible). There is no doubt that a lot of capitalist had been flowing out of this country and each sanctions become tougher. People on the street will begin to feel it.

Nevertheless, there is a big difference between the fact that economy maybe beginning to hurt. But will that actually change Mr. Putin's cause in terms of his strategic goals in Eastern Ukraine? And we all seeing as you mentioned, a build up of truths again on the border between Russia and Ukraine according to U.S. Army to officials, and an increase since MH17 of arms coming in.

Now, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said today in an interview on Russian state media, "We have troops on the border because we are being shield from Ukraine. We have had one Russian citizen killed at a border crossing because of incoming fire, what would the U.S. do in that kind of situation we are showing restraint? And he also asked to see harder evidence from the U.S. in terms of the case that they have build up that's incriminate at least the self defense groups and possibly also Russia, so that is Russia's positioned on the day when Europe decides on possibly far tougher sanctions.

HARLOW: Yeah, getting to be really interesting to see the choreography between European nations that really deal with Russia very differently. The finance sector in London, you've got France building these two big military ships for Russian. What will happen with those, and of course, energy, when it comes to other European nation being so dependent on Russia. So we shall see Diana Magnay, I appreciate the report from Moscow this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 10 minutes, so this is the half of the hour. We'll be right back.

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HARLOW: Officials from the Department of Defense and Homelabd Security are on their way to the Texas-Mexico border. The White House is sending the team to evaluate how the National Guard can assist the border patrol there. A surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally has overwhelmed detention facilities in Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry announced this week that he will send up to a thousand Texas guardsmen into that area.

ROMANS: All right, President Obama is in California today on a fund- raising tour, making appearances to raise money for Democratic candidates running in November's midterm elections. Republicans criticizing the timing of a fund-raising trip while fighting rages in Gaza and investigators are trying to determine who shot down Flight MH17. President returns to Washington this afternoon after delivering a speech on job training at the Los Angeles Technical College.

HARLOW: All right, coming up here on EARLY START -- a widening food scandal in China, rotten meat apparently sold to McDonald's. Why is this fast food giant standing by its supplier? We'll discuss next.

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ROMANS: All right. McDonald's -- McDonald's standing by the supplier that sold it rotten meat. An American-owned food plant in Shanghai accused of selling out of date and unsanitary meat. Big name clients like KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King, Papa Johns -- they are all cutting ties with the supplier, but McDonald's says it will continue to use the supplier but using different facility. The food scandal has not affected meat at locations in the United States.

HARLOW: Right, well, EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: Our breaking news this morning, U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv clear to resume the FAA, lifting its travel ban, a travel ban that lasted just 36 hours that cause plenty of controversy. We are live with the latest at Ben Gurion Airport.

HARLOW: New development this morning into a), who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17? The plane's black box is now being analyzed this morning. Did pro-Russian separatists possess the weapons needed to shoot this plane down? This as emotional tributes play out. More coffins leaving Ukraine.