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Rescue Conditions for Sunken Ferry Like "Being Inside the Washing Machine"; Pro-Russian Separatists Say They're Staying; Scanning the Ocean for Flight 370

Aired April 18, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Divers are down there taking great risk trying to find those people and using every tool they have to try to locate them.


CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: Breaking news: rescue divers finally make their way into the sunken ship, the conditions making the search for survivors nearly impossible. We're going to take you to the scene. And we have new information about the captain and what happened.

KATE BOLDUAN, HOST, CNN: Happening now, the underwater search for Flight 370 back on this morning after its fourth mission comes up empty. Is it time to regroup? New questions this morning.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, HOST, CNN: Baby on board! Chelsea Clinton announcing that she is pregnant. Of course, no Clinton development lacks political intrigue, so what does this mean for a Hillary presidential run?

CUOMO: Your new day starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Good Friday, April 18th. Now, 6:00 in the east.

And we're going to begin with the desperate effort to reach some 270 people, many teenagers, believed to be in that sunken ship. The death toll has been raised to 28. But the number they're focused on is the missing. Those are the people who they believe are trapped and time is really of the essence.

BOLDUAN: The boat is now completely under water. But divers battling fierce winds and rough water still have finally entered the boat's second deck.

International correspondent Paula Hancocks is in Jindo, South Korea with the latest. PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPODENT: Well, Kate, we have some fresh information for you. And we have heard from local police here in Jindo, South Korea. The deputy principle of that school where most of these high school students were from, has been found dead just by the gymnasium where many of the families are waiting for news of their relatives. Local police saying he was found hanging from a tree, so another tragedy to add to this one.

We're going into the third night here. Relatives sitting by the water desperately looking out to sea wondering what has happened to their loved ones.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): This morning, divers in South Korea have finally made their way into the ship's hull. The ship now completely submerged under choppy seas, the strong currents in murky water making any rescue efforts nearly impossible. Rescuers this morning pumping oxygen into the ship in the hopes of providing air to anyone inside who may be alive.

But for desperate families waiting for answers, it's not enough. They're pleading with authorities to do more, releasing a statement saying, "We are making this appeal with tears because we are so furious with the way the government is handling this."

Some relatives broke down after hearing of a rumored autopsy report that one victim may have been trapped for some time before passing away. CNN cannot confirm this report.

Namsing Wan (ph) is waiting for word on his 16-year-old nephew.

NAMSING WAN, (ph) NEPHEW WAS ON SUNKEN SHIP: So even if how hard it is, how difficult it is, how hard it is, I don't care. I want to hear the truth.

HANCOCK: And new questions this morning, why when the ship took 2 1/2 hours to capsize, were hundreds still trapped? The captain, we now know, was one of the first to be rescued, while close to 300 passengers told not to move.

And investigators now revealing that he was not at the helm at the time of the accident; his third officer was. "I'm sorry," he says. "I'm at a loss for words."


HANCOCKS (on-camera): And the weather still not being conducive to the search and rescue operation. The winds are high. The waters are rough. And we know that those divers who did manage to get inside the hull this day were not able to find any survivors or any bodies.

Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: Incredibly painful situation given how many people, especially young people, are missing and feared trapped inside the ships. Emotions are going to run high.

Let's bring in to talk us through the conditions the divers have facing, former Navy SEAL and president of SEAL Survival, Cade Courtley.

Cade, thanks for being here. One of the things you immediately and properly pointed out is that even on our beautiful magical wall, one thing is inaccurate. This water, we can see through it and see the bottom of the ship. One of the things they're dealing with is poor visibility. What are the conditions?

CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, basically, if I was diving on the ship it would be the same as me being inside the washing machine that has 50 degree temperature and my eyes are closed. I mean, that's what these guys are dealing with. They're just getting barbed around in there, not to mention all the hazards of going inside this thing, getting caught up on something. If you have some kind of a failure with your diving gear, you're way out. It's going to be tough. So these guys are really, really taking huge risks right now.

CUOMO: Obviously SEAL stands for sea, air, land. So you know diving. You do tons of underwater operations. Current, visibility, and temperature, those alone are enough to really slow down or stymie an effort. Fair point?

COURTLEY: Absolutely. Trying to do this -- I'm sorry. If you look at the next one -- trying to do this kind of a salvage dive when it's 80 degrees and clear water is still dangerous because you're operating inside these things. Imagine a hotel that's half the size and submerged in water, OK? And it's pitch dark.

Instead, these guys are dealing with the ship moving around 50 to 53- degree water. And again, pretty much doing it with their eyes closed because the visibility is maybe six inches in front of their eyes.

CUOMO: And in that three-dimensional environment, obviously, floating objects become very real and very dangerous for them.

COURTLEY: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. It's not like everything is in its place and they have clear hallways or passageways as you comb the ship. They are dealing with everything moving around. And so, literally like I said you're in that washing machine with the clothes now.

I mean, they are literally handing -- you know, hand by hand just moving through these areas trying to find something. And you know, this is where most of the passengers were. Now this thing upside- down, that's 30, 40 feet under the surface of the water.

CUOMO: Very often we see in operations like this they cut through the hull to go in. They haven't done that here. Why?

COURTELY: You know, it's a good question. Because initially once you do that you're also creating an escape area for the air, so the air that was maybe keeping this thing up, you do that, it evacuates all that. It's going to cause the thing to sink even faster. So it's sort of one of those last results.

The thing that's really kind of upsetting is you're not hearing people, you know, banging on metal or anything like that. You would be hoping the divers would be saying, "Hey, we're hearing somebody signaling." We haven't heard any of that.

CUOMO: Look, the time, the practicalities are weighing against what we're holding out here for hope of optimism. But until we have the information we're going to stay in the cause of survivability. What is going to be the best indication of a chance of surviving here, the fact that it is barely below the surface so there must be some buoyancy left, some air left?

COURTELY: Look, absolutely. The fact that it's as large as it is, many people are still missing as they are, you are dealing with, you know, hypothermia issues and you're dealing with a lack of oxygen. Because every time you exhale, carbon dioxide and that creates a lack of oxygen in that area. You're going to pass out from that.

That said, about six months ago there was a ship that sunk off the coast of Nigeria, and it was at 100 feet of depth, and three days later they found the cook down there. Three days later he had been in the similar type of situation in a void, breathing, and they -- and they saved him. So you got to maintain hope. Clock is ticking, but, I mean, there's still a chance.

CUOMO: So there is a chance. And that's why they're trying to get through. Right now we're reminding you of that. Remember, they found that chef there. He was alive. He was in rough shape, but he was alive.

And that's the point. And remember, a lot of young people here, but that's going to mean they're very hardy also. They're very -- they're strong.

When we're going through this new information we have, captain wasn't at the helm. Third eye in command was at the helm. Does that trouble you?

COURTELY: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. Because that's when all the problems started happening. When you have inexperience at the helm. And then it compounded by them not taking the action and saying, "Hey, let's get everybody on deck. Let's get them all out of their rooms. Let's get ready to do an abandon ship."

Even if they didn't have people ready to go, so at least they could fight for their life. Instead, told to stay put. And now if anybody is alive, that's probably where they're at.

CUOMO: And that's going to be the race to try and get there. But when we see those divers around, we know the families are frustrated. They're not in the water because they can't be, not because they're going slowly. Obviously divers want to dive, right?

COURTLEY: I mean, absolutely. Look, they would love to float on in there and take care of this. But, like I said earlier, it's so incredibly dangerous for these divers. Do you want to compound death toll by people who are trying to survive -- or trying to get to survivors, you know, keeping their lives in an effort to do that? You know, it's an almost an impossible situation given the conditions on sight.

CUOMO: Cade Courtley, can't ask for better than a SEAL to break down a situation about diving and doing a rescue operation. Thank you very much for being with us.

COURTELY: My pleasure. Thanks a lot.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, also new this morning, Malaysia asking for more help in search for Flight 370. As the unmanned drone known as the Bluefin-21 that we've been tracking so closely, it is now on its fifth mission scanning the waters in the Indian Ocean. So far, though, it's found nothing.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is in Perth, Australia, with the very latest. Erin, how is today's search coming along as far as we know?


This morning we heard from Malaysia's acting transportation minister over Twitter saying that they are considering the possibility of deploying more underwater submarines in the area.

This as overnight the Bluefin-21 reaching new depths. It climbed -- dove, rather, some 4.7 kilometers beneath the ocean's surface. It was originally thought that its depth capacity was 4.5 kilometers. And it's a good thing that it's able to reach these new depths, given this is a critical area. This is the area they believe is the most probable place they will find the black box based on those ping detections. But four complete dives in and nothing to show for it so far.

And we heard earlier in the week from the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, saying that he expects within the week to have exhausted the most promising leads. And from there, officials are going to have to reassess the situation.

Now, we are still waiting for an update on that fifth dive. Not clear if it's been complete. We'll bring you that information as soon as we have it. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, we'll be back to you. Erin, thanks for the reporting.

Moving on now, sanctions and shows of force have so far failed to make a difference in Ukraine, but world leaders are still leaning on diplomacy.

The latest effort is a joint statement by Russia, the U.S., Ukraine, and the E.U. calling for armed groups to lay down their weapons. Seems to be falling on deaf ears as unrest persists on the ground, buildings are still occupied, mass militants are on the street. And now Jewish residents in one city were given fliers demanding they register themselves and pay a fee or be deported.

CNN's Phil Black is live in Ukraine.


Breaking just a few moments ago the pro-Russian separatist groups that are occupying a building here in Donetsk in the east of Ukraine say they're not going anywhere. That agreement thrushed out in Geneva says these groups should leave the buildings, lay down their weapons. The groups this morning say they are not going to do that. They did not sign the deal. They are not recognizing it. They believe it is the government in Kiev that is illegal. so no big change here on the ground as a result of that attempted diplomacy.

Meanwhile, another disturbing act has been committed at least in the name of these pro-Russian separatist groups. Outside a synagogue here in Donetsk, fliers have been distributed demanding that all Jewish people over the age of 16 register their identities and their possessions as well.

As I say, this is done on a letterhead suggesting that it being issued by these pro-Russian separatist groups. They have denied being responsible for it at all. The Jewish community believes that they are being used in a wider political game, and they are angry. They also say they are fearful about it.

But it is such a sensitive issue and a very disturbing act in a country where millions of people lost their lives during the Nazi occupation of World War II. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Phil, thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting from there. Very urgent situation.

Other news this morning as well. Michaela is back.

PEREIRA: Hi, darling. I'm here. I'm not sure how back I am, but I'm here.

CUOMO: We'll take you any way we can get you.

PEREIRA: Doing our best. Exactly. That virus won't get me down.

Let's look at the headlines at this hour. We start with the official Obamacare enrollment numbers. They are in. Democrats are taking a bit of a victory lap, President Obama announcing that 8 million have now enrolled, exceeding expectations by 1 million.

But what really counts, according to the president, 28 percent of those enrolled are between 18 and 34 years of age, enough healthy young people to make the law a success. Now, critics say that figure really should be 40 percent.

Rescue operation under way on the world's highest mountain after an avalanche on Mt. Everest killed at least nine sherpa guides. Three others were hurt. We're told several others are missing. Government officials in Nepal say it happened more than 20,000 feet above sea level, just above base camp. The guides were preparing the route to the summit for climbers when the avalanche hit. This is the deadliest single event in the mountain's history.

Now in custody, a suspect in a series of highway shootings in and around Kansas City. The man's identity has not been released and neither has a motive. The attacks began in early March. Police have now collected some 20 reports of shootings. Three people are recovering from their injuries.

And if you have shopped at a Michael's craft store chain in the last year, you better listen up. Officials say the company had a data security breach from May of last year all the way until this past January.

Credit and debit card info about 3 million customers could have been compromised. Company officials say the hack affected about 7 percent of store transactions during that time. I'm going to have to go back through my own records to see if I was getting crafty.

BOLDUAN: Another reason why I'm not crafty. Just kidding.

CUOMO: Got to pay attention. You do not know who has your information these days.

BOLDUAN: And it comes to light months later.

CUOMO: True. The delay gets you.

PEREIRA: When most people have thrown out their receipts.


CUOMO: But the one piece of good news so far this morning.


CUOMO: Mickey's back.

PEREIRA: Hey, it's on Friday, too. I planned that well, didn't I?

BOLDUAN: You made the Friday even better.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the Bluefin sub goes back into the deep. So far it's been doing all the work itself, but now we're learning more underwater vehicles could be diving in. What could this mean for the search for Flight 370?

CUOMO: And I was pretty sure Hillary Clinton, it was a lock to run for president in 2016. But now, she may decide she will not run, so she can spend more time with her first grandchild. Yes. Details ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Right now, the unmanned sub known as the Bluefin-21 is back under water looking for signs of Flight 370. Now, Malaysia wants more of those unmanned subs and other equipment to speed up the search.

Now, that's good, but there may be bad news that goes along with it.

Let's bring in two experts to help us out. By now, you know these gentlemen, David Gallo and David Soucie here with us.

Great to have you both.

Now, what would be the bad news? David, the bad news would be that the reason they need more is they may expand the search again. Is that bad news?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it is in that because of the fact they need more, where they only had one because they were real sure about where it was, that's the only thing they need it to be able to prove that theory.

Now, we're not done with that yet, remember. There's still time. There's still time to find it in that area. If they need more, indicates that they've exhausted that search and now they're going to have to a much bigger, broader search.

CUOMO: David Gallo, the power of perspective from what you dealt with in 447. There's a lot of pressure on these guys to find something down there. Too much pressure? Does it take time? Is it unrealistic to think they would have found something by now?

DAVID GALLO, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION: Yes. Chris, one of things we did with Air France 447 was insulate the team at sea from all this pressure. The last thing you need is outside criticism. They know what they need to get done. They're getting mission after mission.

So, everything from their perspective is going -- we need some patience on our end.

CUOMO: Now, you taught me something about your search that I did not know before. We always say, hey, you have to be patient. It took Air France two years, you know, in that search to find it. But more importantly, David, explain the fact that during those two years, there were only ten weeks of searching and it seems to suggest that you guys were given time to think about where to search, how to search, and what makes sense.

Whereas here, they're pushed to keep going week after week.

GALLO: Yes. You know, Chris, this is what the French were up against in the early days, just like this -- early days of Air France 447 as they were out there without the opportunity, the luxury of sitting back thinking about the data. The important thing is not only the tools and the team but also the plan. And we had time to come up with a solid plan and put the right team together. CUOMO: Sometimes action is not progress. You know, when it's forced. And what's we have to be careful about in this situation. David, Inmarsat, the company reading the radar, helping with the analysis, they say we're going to provide free services after this. It could cost them $10 million, $15 million in revenue.

That's good, right?

SOUCIE: It's good that that service is available and will be there. But this is a very tight knit thing to be able to do air traffic control. That's why Nextgen was created and supported by Congress because it's a system that has to work together. It's important that not only that it's there but it integrates with the existing traffic control systems.

And that's why I'm a little concerned about, to have kind of a knee- jerk reaction say, now, we have this tracking system. It's tough when you throw in another party there wasn't there before without planning. I worked on Nextgen for seven or eight years before it actually became real. So, that needs to get to planning stage.

CUOMO: So logistically it could be an issue. My concern is, this isn't really what I want to hear. I want to hear that the black box is going to be put in these inflatable -- these emerging units like you have in the military plans. I want to hear that you have GPS locating capabilities on your plane like I have in my car. Why aren't we hearing that?

SOUCIE: Well, this is a concern. If this is a Band-Aid and it puts off the pressure and says, oh, well, we've got that handled now, where is the pressure to do things we are talking about, flotation, black boxes, streaming data. Those are better solutions that provide much more information, much more quickly about what went on in the aircraft.

So, I hope it's not viewed as a fix. It's simply a Band-Aid on a big symptom out there.

CUOMO: Right? I mean, David, is that a fair point of concern going forward? That's one thing we know for sure in a situation that's pure mystery. You have to make a plane completely trackable at all times no matter what, right?

GALLO: Yes, the last thing you want to do is have a plane go into the water and not sure where it is. You know, every minute of flight is another 10 miles roughly can be another -- 10 miles radius search, and that's a huge area under sea. You don't want to lose a plane in the water.

CUOMO: Now, when Prime Minister Tony Abbott said they may stop searching at the end of the week to re-evaluate. The Malaysians saying they need to regroup. To David's point we were making earlier about being fair to the process here, is it important for people at home to know you have to give time to do this the right way, otherwise you're going to see just frustration for the families? SOUCIE: Absolutely. In investigations that I've done and the others that I've observed, the strategy, start with a strategy and you follow that out and try to prove these unknowns, you try to improve your confidence with every piece of fact that you have so you count on those facts through the chain. You build this chain. It's a delicate chain because in this case, we don't have a lot of high confidence links in that chain. So it's very delicate.

So, it's very delicate. So when you talk about this last chain, I'm a little concerned because we've got this last chain. It goes away. Then everybody says, oh, it's all for naught. We're back to square one.

We're not. These chains have been built over time. Most have been tested. Most of them have been tested. There are some that may be needed to be looked at again that were further up in the chain.

But we want to be careful to say this last chain link didn't work out so we've got to tear it all apart and start over again.

COUMO: One quick point for you, David Gallo, before we go. You know, I'm very against speculation here. I want to just test what comes out of the investigation.

But here's one here's one piece of speculation -- people are starring to talk about the money of what this costs and now it's up to $230 million, who is going to pay for it. My speculation is if those had been 239 Americans on the plane, nobody would be talking about what it costs, at least in this country.

Is the cost of an operation like this a relevant consideration, David?

GALLO: Of course. Everything comes down to money. It's a relative consideration. But there's no option here.

We need to find that aircraft at any cost. It's got to be found for the sake of the families, for flying public, and for the aerospace industry that's flying the plane.

CUOMO: Right. And I think that's a perfect way to put it. You have a triple layer of concern. The families deserve the dignity of knowing what happened. And in a post-9/11 environment to the extent the U.S. is involved here, you cannot have an airplane that can just go missing.

GALLO: Right.

CUOMO: It's just unacceptable in this day and age.

David Gallo, David Soucie, thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the sunken ferry in South Korea now completely under water with hundreds of people still unaccounted for. It is a race against time, clearly. Will divers be able to find any more survivors?

Also ahead, Chelsea Clinton making a surprise announcement that has nothing to do with her mother's possible plans in 2016. I would argue even more important than in 2016 announcement. Her happy news ahead.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Let's give you a look at your headlines.

Two divers briefly entered the capsized ferry. But rough waters forced them back out. Air is being pumped into the ship to try and keep any possible survivors trapped inside alive.

The death toll is expected to rise. We have learned a vice principal rescued from the ferry has been found hanged, some 270 people remain missing. Many of them high school students.

The self proclaimed leader of pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine is rejecting an international deal to stop the tense standoff between the government and pro-Russian protesters saying his supporters won't leave government buildings unless Kiev's government leaves power. Despite calls that both sides stand down and give up arms.

We are now hearing the chilling 911 calls from that bus crash that injured dozens and left ten people including five students dead last week. One student who escaped moments before the bus exploded into flames described -- struggled to describe the scene.


OPERATOR: What's your name? Are you still on the bus or are you off the bus at this point?

CALLER: Everyone got off the bus. The bus is on fire!

OPERATOR: I understand that. Are you away from it or are you still on it?

CALLER: Yes, we're getting away from the bus, actually.

OPERATOR: OK. OK. Go as far away as you can safely get, OK?


OERATOR: OK. And what did the bus hit?


OPERATOR: What did the bus hit?

CALLER: It hit on the -- I guess the left side?