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Underwater Search For Flight 370 Begins; Three Dead in Jewish Center Shootings; Cautious Tone as Search Continues for Flight 370

Aired April 14, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The listening ends. Underwater scanning begins. An unmanned submarine is now scouring the seafloor, marking a new phase in the hunt for Flight 370.

Also a suspect with a history of hate, this man, accused of going on a deadly rampage, killing three people at a Jewish center, two of them in Kansas.

And a deadline in Ukraine has passed, but pro-Russian protestors refuse to abandon the government buildings that they've been occupying in the eastern part of that country. In fact, they've taken over another one.

Hi, there. I'm one half of the Pereira-Berman duo. I'm Michaela Pereira. John Berman is off today.

It is 11:00 a.m. in the East. That means it's 8:00 a.m., bright and early, out West. Those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR/

We start with the search for Flight 370. It moves deep underwater now. Thirty-eight days after the jetliner vanished without a trace, a robotic submarine was launched just hours ago. It's starting to scan and map the floor of the Indian Ocean, looking for any sign of wreckage.

The U.S. Navy's Bluefin-21 will use sonar to produce a three- dimensional map the seafloor. Now we should point out each mission takes some 24 hours to complete, so searching this entire area could certainly take a while, as long as two months.

Search coordinator Angus Houston says it's the best option.


ANGUS HOUSTON, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CHIEF: The deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle has the potential to take us a further step towards visual identification since it offers a possible opportunity to detect debris from the aircraft on ocean floor.


PEREIRA: Angus Houston also announcing at that point that an oil slick was spotted in the search zone. The source of that oil slick has not yet been determined. A sample has been taken. It will be tested. Let's take you straight now to Perth, Australia, where the search is being coordinated. Will Ripley joins us.

And, Will, the decision to launch the Bluefin-21 taken, essentially, because no pings have been detected now for, what, six days? What is the plan for this underwater sub?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, the plan, as you mentioned, it's going to be gone down on these 24-hour missions. It takes two hours just to get down to the bottom. It's three feet -- or I'm sorry. I should say almost three miles down.

It's going to be hovering about 100 feet above the ocean's surface, as you mentioned, using that side-scan sonar technology to map out the bottom of the ocean floor.

And then it takes another two hours to get back up after spending 16 hours below.

And all that time, what they're doing on the Ocean Shield is just they're sitting and waiting, because this data doesn't even get into the computers on the ship until they can get the submersible back on board and downloaded.

So the message we got today from U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews is that this whole process is really going to slow down.


CAPTAIN MARK MATTHEWS, U.S. NAVY: Patience, people need to have patience.

So, when we send the Bluefin-21 on a mission, it essentially takes 24 hours to do a full mission and be turned around and put back into the water.

It then also takes a few hours to analyze the data that was collected on the previous mission.

So the amount of -- the rate of information flow is certainly going to be a little more than a day apart.


RIPLEY: So as far as we know, Michaela, the scanning is happing @ THIS HOUR, but it's going to be a while before we find what, if anything, was actually found.

PEREIRA: So that is -- that's one aspect of the search. We also heard from the coordinator, Angus Houston, saying that the visual search, meaning the air and the surface search, that operation likely to end in the next couple of days.

Given the fact that no debris has been spotted, what are you -- what's the sense that you are getting from the search crews? Are they feeling frustrated? What is the feeling amongst them? RIPLEY: The sense we're getting and really for the first time today the language about the visual search has changed pretty dramatically.

I chatted with Chief Houston, chatted with and an oceanographer, who said the chances of finding debris floating on the surface of the water is pretty slim, because, you know, here we are in Day 38, and there was a tropical cyclone that moved through the area.

So they think that most of this stuff has probably sunk down to the bottom, which just makes this underwater search that's happening right now so much more critical, Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Will Ripley, there in Perth, Australia, thank you so much for that.

We want to bring in our aviation analysts Mary Schiavo and Jeff Wise. Good to have you both with us.

Mary, why don't we start with you? Ladies first, I always say.

Why don't you explain to us a little bit more about how this Bluefin- 21 sub works, Will Ripley there, telling us it's a very slow process.

I've heard it likened to a Roomba of the sea, a bit like a "mowing- the-lawn" effort.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, those of us with Roombas know it looks more than a pinball. They kind of move sort of random back and forth. You can't really see the pattern that's locked in that Roomba machine.

It's more like an automatic lawnmower, if you can imagine your lawnmower moving back and forth methodically across the lawn.

And the reason it's like that is they have to be able to identify which square, which block, they have spotted something.

When they bring the Bluefin-21 back up, they will download the data and look at the sonogram. It will look like a sonogram, and if they see anything of interest, and remember square angles and boxes and things like that don't appear in nature, so they'll be able to spot it. And that's why it's so methodical and just square by square we'll map the ocean floor.

PEREIRA: So they take that information back to base, Jeff, and they look at the data that Mary is talking about from that sweep, if you will.

How do experts know what they're looking at? How can they look at that, the sonogram, if you will, and know that they're looking at potentially a piece of debris?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: What you're going to hope to find, most likely, is a debris field, and this is what happened with Air France 447. They found, like in the case of that wreck, an oval pattern across the ocean floor. It was quite diffuse, but it really looks like something. What you're getting, even though they're using sound, the way the data is processed, it looks like a picture.

So, it's slightly distorted because you're looking at it sideways as this thing is shooting out these sonar waves sideways, so it's a little bit distorted, but it really does look like something .

So, if there's a piece that's definable like a tailfin or a piece of landing gear, it will look like that, like a piece of landing gear.

PEREIRA: Does it tend to settle in close proximity to one another, because we know the current in that deep ocean, there are a lot of things at play underneath the sea there?

WISE: That's true, but less so at depth. You know, most of the currents are higher up, just below the surface of the water.

What happens is presumably the plane, assuming this is what happened, the plane hits the water, it breaks up and then you have a rain of metal and parts and so forth, falling down to the bottom.

Some parts will float away, but the heavy parts will all sort of filter down and come to rest in a sort of a circular or elliptical pattern.

PEREIRA: And then it's a case of getting to that debris, picking it up, taking it ashore and then analyzing it there.

Mary, I want to get to you, and we're going to have you stick around, because next hour, I want to talk about that oil slick, because that potentially could be a lead.

I want to plant that in your brain. We'll come back to you in a little bit and talk about the oil slick that Angus Houston mentioned being discovered and if that promises to be any sort of lead there.

Jeff Wise, Mary, I want you to stand by, as well, because we have some very questions that we're going to point to you about the ongoing search and mystery.

And, folks at home, if you want to get in on the conversation, you can tweet a question to Mary and Jeff. Use the hash tag "370Qs." Don't forget -- we're on Facebook/ @ THIS HOUR.

We're going to return to our coverage of the missing plane in a moment, but let's look give you a look at some other stories that are happening @ THIS HOUR.

In Kansas, the Justice Department is now looking into whether federal hate-crime law applies in the Sunday shootings at two Jewish center. Three people were killed.

The suspect, 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller, is due in court today. Officials say he has long held ties to white supremacist groups. Each passing hour brings new tension in Ukraine. Pro-Russian protestors have taken over government buildings in nine cities and towns in eastern Ukraine.

A deadline to leave or be forced out has passed, and the stalemate continues. Barricades are up, almost daring a confrontation.

Today, a new wrinkle, Ukraine's acting president is raising the possibility of a national referendum on keeping Ukraine independent and united.

The NTSB is trying to figure out if fatigue, distraction or other issues maybe led to that fiery crash last week near Orland, California, that killed ten people. Authorities are looking at the FedEx driver's last 72 hours.

They're looking into whether he had enough rest or perhaps whether he was using his cell phone when he lost control of his truck and plowed head on into a bus full of prospective college students.

Five student, three chaperones and the drivers of each vehicle died. More than 30 other people were injured.

They're cleaning up in Texas, all the way to Iowa, today. At least five tornadoes touched down Sunday. Dash-cam video from Lovelady, Texas, shows one of them.

The sheriff's office reports buildings and mobile homes were damaged. One person was injured.

Another twister hit near Stephens, Oklahoma, three more in Iowa.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, the president weighs in on the shooting spree in Kansas. The suspect is being described as a white supremacist.

We're going to bring you a live report, just ahead.


PEREIRA: The man accused of opening fire at two Jewish facilities in Kansas is due in court today. Seventy-three-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of anti- Semitism.

Three people were killed. The Justice Department, we're told, is now looking into whether federal hate crime laws apply in this case. In fact, President Obama spoke a short while ago at an Easter prayer breakfast.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED: That this occurred now as Jews were preparing to celebrate Passover, as Christians were observing Palm Sunday, makes this tragedy all the more painful.

And today as Passover begins, we're seeing a number of synagogues and Jewish community centers take added security precautions.

Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers.

No one should ever have to fear for their safety when they go to pray.


PEREIRA: Nobody should have to fear for their safety when they go to pray.

The shooting has stunned the community, has stunned the nation. Most of all, one woman, she is coping with unbearable sorrow. Why? Her father was taking her son to a singing audition and both of them were killed.

She shared her story at a vigil to honor the victims.


MINDY CORPORON, MOTHER AND DAUGHTER OF SHOOTING VICTIMS: I'm the daughter of the gentleman who was killed, and I'm the mother of the son who was killed.

And I want to tell you how much I appreciate you all being here. I heard there was going to be a vigil, and we all grieve in different ways, and I just wanted to tell people thank you.


PEREIRA: Her composure and strength is remarkable. Our George Howell is in Overland Park, Kansas. We want to get the latest from you, George.

We can only imagine how much that community is reeling.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, it's just so hard to hear that sound that you played just a minute ago. I mean, you're talking about people who were just going about their regular daily routines and then this happened, then people were forced to get on the ground to get out of harm's way when shots rang out.

What we know at this point, we do expect to hear from investigators here within the next hour to get more information about where the investigation stands right now. We also know the names of the victims. As you mentioned, the woman who lost her son and her father. We know that this happened earlier and we know the names now, 14-year- old Reat Underwood. We know that he was here, a 14-year-old boy with many other teenagers here, he was here for a singing competition. His grandfather was also here, William Corporon. He was here to support his grandson when this happened.

Again, there was another shooting just about a mile away from us at a retirement home, a woman whose name has not yet been released but again she was also shot and killed in this situation. And we're still waiting to get more information from investigators. PEREIRA: And investigators obviously are looking at this suspect, and it turns out, George, this guy had quite a history. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he was the founder and the former leader of two hate groups. But what's really odd, I think, to so many people, is that he kind of went underground. He's sort of only been active mainly in social media in recent years.

HOWELL: Right, it seems he went underground after prison but then started to get back online, putting more hate speech online at his own web site. You start to see more of that online and now we're seeing what happened here.

You listen to what witnesses say. They say he went over here and he talked to people and asked them if they were Jewish. We also heard from our affiliate video that Neo-Nazi slogan that he uttered while he was in the back of the police car. Now, Attorney General Eric Holder is looking into the possibility, asking the Justice Department to see whether federal hate crime laws would apply to this case. And we know that investigators, they are also going through all those statements, all the evidence that they have gathered, to see where this case goes from here.

PEREIRA: So many young people there for the audition, for the music. They're going to need some support from the community. Hopefully they'll be getting the counseling from both the church and from maybe their schools. George Howell with the latest there. I think the whole nation mourns with them. Thanks so much for that report.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, back to our top story. Searchers are looking instead of listening for signs of Flight 370. An unmanned sub is scanning and mapping the ocean floor. Officials are cautioning, though, don't get your hopes up. Why they're being so cautious. We'll talk about that next.



ANGUS HOUSTON, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CHIEF: I would caution you against raising hopes that the deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle will result in the detection of the aircraft wreckage. It may not. However, this is the best lead we have and it must be pursued vigorously. Again, I emphasize that this will be a slow and painstaking process.


PEREIRA: You heard Angus Houston there saying a slow and long, painstaking process that might turn up nothing. Australian officials clearly not wanting to get people's hopes up as an unmanned sub scans the bottom of the ocean for Flight 370.

We want to bring back our aviation analysts, Mary Schiavo, Jeff Wise. We'll get to the cautious tone in a minute because I think that's very important and indicative. But, Mary, as promised, I want to talk about this other piece of news that came out of Angus Houston's comments about the oil slick. The Ocean Shield detected an oil slick Sunday evening in the current search area. What does that say to you? Does it give you hope that this might be a sign of Flight 370?

SCHIAVO: Well, it could be, but at this far removed date from the crash of the plane, and that's where it would be very close to where the plane is presumed to have gone into the water, we would expect to see it further away. But it's really worthwhile collecting the sample like they did and testing it, because the fuels and the oils and the lubricants are very specific to aircraft. You have Jet A fuel; you have lubricants that have to be approved by the manufacturer, so they have a special component, they have a special manufacturing process. And they will know right away whether it's aviation oil fuel or other lubricants. They will be unique to the plane.

PEREIRA: There is such a team of people that are involved in this search, oceanographers, et cetera. People that currents experts, people that are -- understand how these properties change in the ocean, what's happened to them over time.

Jeff, let's talk about the cautious tone. We heard Angus Houston saying, look, everybody just take a breath. We want to take caution and say just because we're using the Bluefin doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to find something. Also he really was cautious in the way he talked about the area itself, once again, talking to us about this area being a search area that is new to man.

WISE: Right. It's very interesting. We're trying to parse the significance of this tone. Last week he was on a very different note, really saying he was very optimistic that this was, in fact, MH-370, really raising hopes. Then we had day after day go by without any further pings. It seems like we're in a very different place emotionally right now.

Bear in mind also that the prime minister of Australia went to China, spoke with the premiere there and he bore this message of hope, very crucial given that over 150 of the passengers are from China. And there was a very hot emotional issue, bears directly on relations between Australia and China, between Malaysia and China. So it's very freighted, very important.

PEREIRA: So much at play here. Mary, when we talk about some of the announcements that were made at the press conference earlier on Sunday, the notion that the surface search could be coming to an end, what does that tell you, given the investigations you've been involved in? What does that say to you?

SCHIAVO: Well, it's just that so much time has passed since the plane would have entered the water that they're just using a lot of resources, a lot of personnel, a lot of time to search when really the current and the waves would have moved things far away. They've gotten the pings, they've got the four pings. At this point they're going to go under water and look. If they find it, they don't need the wreckage that floated away. They need to find what's under the surface. They'll have to take the next step if they don't find the wreckage there. But if this is the place and they have the black boxes, searching for the wreckage on top of the water won't add anything.

PEREIRA: Again, this is a situation that none of us have seen before. Do you anticipate that maybe, even though the organized search effort would end on the surface and the air search, Mary, do you anticipate that maybe some private money might sort of say we're going to keep looking, we want to get these families some answers?

SCHIAGO: Well, it could and it has in other accidents in the past. And while governments don't usually charge or go after the airline to pay for the search and rescue or search and recovery, that's not unprecedented. There have been accidents in the past. There was one in Indonesia where Indonesia went after the airline to have them pay for the search and rescue. So you can have private money, you have insurance money and then, of course, you have governments that usually don't seek a reimbursement but that's not always a given.

So at this juncture, it's hard to say in the end who will foot all the bills. But it's important to keep track because then we can say, hey, it costs that much. Let's make improvements so we don't have to spend that much again.

PEREIRA: Well, that's the thing. There are so many questions about what will be done next time. There's the hope that we won't see this kind of scenario happen again, but certainly there are going to be some lessons to be learned.

Jeff Wise and Mary Schiavo, they're going to answer some of your questions, for the folks at home, about this search and mystery surrounding Flight 370. That's coming up before the end of the show. You can tweet questions to them, #370Qs. Don't forget, we're on Facebook if you want to connect with us that way as well. We'll have you both stick around. Jeff, Mary, thanks.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, an unmanned submarine is now scouring the ocean floor as we speak. But here's the question -- what happens if we find nothing? What then in the search for Flight 370?