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Bluefin Only Has 10 Percent of Search Area Left; What If the Plane Is Never Found?; Putin Warns Ukraine of "Consequences"; Father Says Teen Plane Stowaway Struggled in School; Flight 370 Families Demand Answers From Boeing; Pope Makes a Phone Call

Aired April 24, 2014 - 11:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Down to the final stretch, the robo-sub that's scanning under water for wreckage from Flight 370, it's just about done.

The Bluefin-21 has only about 10 percent of the search area left to go, and it's coming up empty. So what's next?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Vladimir Putin has fiery words for Kiev. He says military operations in eastern Ukraine may be a serious crime, and he's using that to justify taking Crimea.

BERMAN: And the father of the 15-year-old stowaway speaks out for the first time. Find out why he believes his son ran away, risking his life in the wheel well of a jumbo jet.

Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. It's 11:00 a.m. in the East, 8:00 a.m. out West.

Those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

New video just in to CNN, a dramatic standoff between families of those missing on Flight 370 and representatives of Malaysia Airlines. The family members refused to allow airline officials to leave a packed conference room in Beijing for four hours.

They were demanding answers about what happened to their loved ones. Family members plan to demand answers also now from airplane maker Boeing.

BERMAN: While this is happening, the submersible drone, the Bluefin 21, might be wrapping up its search for Flight 370 very soon.

The device only has about 10 percent of the underwater search area left to scan, and as far as we know, a search of that remaining portion is under way as we speak.

PEREIRA: Something else we now know, the piece of metal that washed ashore in Australia yesterday raising hopes that it could very well be from -- debris, rather, from the plane turned out to be nothing, not related to the missing flight. Erin McLaughlin joins us from Perth, Australia. And, Erin, 48 days now, 48 days and counting since that jetliner vanished, where does the search stand right now?


Well, as of this morning, the Bluefin-21 still on that 12th mission. We're still waiting for an update to see how it went.

As you mentioned, it's traversed about 90 percent of that very critical, narrowed search area, basically represents their best guess as to where the black box may be. And now with the majority of that ruled out, authorities are discussing next steps.

Australian and Malaysian authorities right now trying to hammer out an agreement about potentially broadening out the search area and introducing more underwater submersibles.

We understand that agreement may be finalized as soon as this week, Michaela.

BERMAN: All right, Erin McLaughlin for us in Perth, thank you so much.

So, as Erin said, 90 percent of that search area has now been scanned. So far nothing found. So the question is, what is next? After 48 days of this search?

PEREIRA: We turn to our aviation analysts once again Mary Schiavo and Jeff Wise, kind of regulars on our program and we sure like that. Good to have you both with us, as always.

Mary, Malaysian and Australian authorities say they are mapping out sort of a long-term strategy, a long-term plan that sounds as though that it could go on for months, perhaps even years.

At this point, once that last 10 percent is searched by Bluefin, what is the next step in terms of expanding the search?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, that's exactly right. That's the key word. The next step is going to have to be expansion.

The Bluefin, you know, it gave its best shot, but it's not enough. There are parts of the search area that it cannot reach. It's too deep. And, of course, we need additional resources because the Bluefin turned up nothing.

So what they're going to have to do is bring in some of the deeper- descending autonomous underwater vehicles. They have side-scan sonar, and each of those vehicles then needs a support ship, so there's needing to be more crew.

But I think they will be planning an expedition or a search party, if you will, for months, not years.

I think their plan is an expanded mapping area with additional vehicles, underwater vehicles, and see what they can cover in the next few months, not in the next few years.

BERMAN: Jeff, we'll bring you into the conversation in just a minute, but I want to ask Mary one more question, because she's been involved in investigations like this.

We have learned that Sarah Bajc, the partner of one of the people on Flight 370, so fed up with Malaysian officials right now that she and others want to take these questions that they have to Boeing who made this airplane.

So, Mary, do you think this is a smart idea, and do you think Boeing will be responsive?

SCHIAVO: Well, I certainly think it's a smart idea, and it's what other choices do they have? And the problem is that the Malaysian authorities have put them in this position.

So of course, they should be free, and they should ask anyone they can for answers to their questions.

And, of course, Boeing will know the answers. Boeing knows the serial numbers on the black boxes. Boeing knows the manufacturing process on many of these components. Boeing knows so many of these answers.

However, will Boeing tell them the answers? No. What Boeing will do is provide that information and has already provided that information without a doubt to the Malaysian authorities, because Boeing's there working on the case.

But I don't think Boeing will directly respond. But the questions they have are so logical, they're so basic, and these are questions that they should have answered the first week of the investigation.

PEREIRA: It only seems that they should be given those answers.

Frustration from the families, frustration, I'm sure, on the part of searchers, as well, Jeff Wise, we know that they're likely going to look at expanding this search area as we talked to Mary about.

We've talked a lot with you about the northern arc. Give us an idea of what all that would encompass.

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Right. So based on the Inmarsat data, they were able to determine very early on that the plan at 8:11 a.m. that morning, about eight hours after takeoff, it must have been located somewhere about 2,000 miles away from the satellite that was geostationary over the Indian Ocean.

Now, that meant it was either over the southern Indian Ocean or along a northern arc that went basically through western China and into central Asia. That northern part has largely been overlooked since the Malaysian authorities announced in mid-March that they had determined, with the help of Inmarsat, that it had to be in the south.

We don't know really why they decided it was in the south. And I think, you know, as the next phase of this search gets under way, I think that part of it is going to be not only a question of where they look, but also how do they communicate with the public?

We're seeing a lot of frustration not only among the families, but also amongst the press and the media and just ordinary citizens who are wondering, why is the search being conducted the way it is? What information do they have that they're not releasing? It's become really a critical issue.

BERMAN: Yes, this next phase, as we enter the next phrase, transparency, I think, would be a welcome addition.

Jeff Wise, Mary Schiavo, great to have you. Obviously we have so many questions, and we want to hear all of yours. We're going to stay on the story throughout the hour. If you have questions, tweet us #370Qs.

A lot of other stories making news for us @ THIS HOUR. Three American hospital workers shot and killed in Afghanistan, allegedly by a police officer that was guarding the place.

Authorities say the guard also shot himself, but he survived.

CNN's learned that one victim was a pediatrician from Chicago who moved to Kabul nine years ago. Afghan officials say the other two victims are a father and son.

This is devastating. Right now the motive, not clear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning Ukraine over its military operations against pro-Russian militants. He says if Kiev is using its army against its own people, it's a, quote, "very serious crime," and the Russian leader says it will have consequences.

Vladimir Putin, also pointing to events as justification for Russia's annexation of Crimea saying, quote, "If Russia had not rendered real support to people in Crimea, it would have been impossible to organize a civilized process of the expression of people's will there.

"Otherwise they would have witnessed the same events as eastern Ukraine and surely even worse. So this is another proof that we have acted correctly and on time," Vladimir Putin.

PEREIRA: I'm so sorry. We've been following the story of that teen stowaway. It turns out that he might just have been trying to get home to see his mom.

The 15-year-old survived subzero temperatures and oxygen deprivation as he rode in the plane's wheel well all the way from San Jose, California, to Maui.

The boy recently had moved to California from Somalia. He told authorities that he was trying to get back there to see his family.

His father told the Voice of America that his son didn't have much of an education in Africa and was struggling in school here in America.

I want to play you a little bit of the English translation of the interview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shocked. I wondered how my son went there, he says.

He had a lot of education problems bothering him, he tells the VOA. He was not good at math and science.


PEREIRA: The father says the family would like to get back to Somalia, but they can't because of what they say are living conditions.

That young boy is recovering now in a hospital in Hawaii.

BERMAN: Needs help, both medically and otherwise.

Pope Francis, rocking the Catholic Church again. So he called a woman in Argentina who's married to a divorced man, and according to the husband, told her she could receive communion.

This has very big implications for the church, a lot to discuss here, and we will discuss this later this hour.

PEREIRA: Then, the plane vanished. It disappeared, gone without a trace. Leads seem to be going cold at every turn.

So has the search for Flight 370 hit a dead end? Will this mystery become one of those that we try to solve for years to come?

We have so, so many questions. We'll try to answer them throughout the hour, so stay with us.


PEREIRA: Desperate for answers after their loved ones vanished to Flight 370, family members of the missing are now turning to Boeing, the maker of the 777 that disappeared.

The families are planning to submit questions directly to the company next week during a shareholders meeting.

American Sarah Bajc whose partner Philip Wood was on that flight spoke to us this morning on "NEW DAY."

She says the families decided to turn to Boeing after the Malaysian government gave the U.N. a report on the plane's disappearance but refused to release that report publicly.


SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: We haven't actually been given a reason why they're not being -- why we are not being given the report.

But I find it fascinating that they seem to be choosing to treat us as if we are the enemy as opposed to an interested party in helping to solve this mystery.


BERMAN: So this is now a mystery that stretches 48 days and counting, and really these families deserve answers.

Our Jean Casarez is here with us. She's an attorney. And, Jean, you know, we heard the families are now going to approach Boeing and ask some of these questions to Boeing, a publicly traded company.

Is Boeing legally required to give some answers?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. No, and I don't think they will. It really puts them in a tough position. You know, we've got the emotional aspect. We've also got the investigation aspect and the legal aspect to all of this.

If you've noticed, there have been no suits filed against Boeing, because there is no information. There's no evidence at all, so there's not a basis to form a claim to sue.

But that information could form the basis for a claim to sue, right? So Boeing's not going to give it out. Furthermore, we heard yesterday they are putting together in Malaysia an independent investigation team. They're going to look at maintenance records. They're going to look at aspects of the plane itself and even the human factor, the psychology, the medical aspect. So I think what Boeing will probably say is that it's part of the internal independent investigation that's just about to begin and they can't release it.

PEREIRA: In terms of the search, 10 percent left of that search area they have left to search. We know that's going to get finished pretty quick here. Once that's exhausted, do they re -- obviously we've talked to --

CASAREZ: They're talking about phase two.

PEREIRA: They're talking about phase two already. How is the best way they can proceed? New resources?

CASAREZ: I think more is going to be released next week, but they're talking about more planes, more boats, possibly actually disbanding the air search but maybe more submersibles, even submarines. But here's the thing. They're talking about that other countries are getting involved, that they want to participate. They want to volunteer. But that actually with our experts is causing a little bit of controversy.


DAVID SOUCIE, FORMER FAA SAFETY INSPECTOR: To bring in more people at this point will simply complicate and extend the process. It's a very bad mistake in my estimation.

FABIEN COUSTEAU, OCEANOGRAPHIC EXPLORER: There needs to be a spearhead, so to speak, a mission control that organized all these assets. Otherwise we may be seeing different entities covering the same ground and therefore being inefficient and wasting a lot of time and money.


CASAREZ: Now, here's one person we know is coming in next week. It was announced Jean Paul Troadec, the head of the Air France investigation team in regard to that black box. He's going to Malaysia next week.

BERMAN: I think his experience will be welcomed. Jean Casarez, great to have you here with us @ THIS HOUR. Appreciate it.

PEREIRA: Thank you.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Ahead for us next, we're changing some gears @ THIS HOUR. A woman in argentine got the surprise of her life when she picked up the phone and heard the Pope's voice on the other end. What he reportedly said, it is shaking up the Catholic Church. That's next.

PEREIRA: Would you be surprised to get a call from the Pope?

BERMAN: Again?


BERMAN: So the Pope has done it again. With one phone call, he changed the life of a woman in Argentina and may have changed things for the entire Catholic Church. Jacqueline had a problem. She was not allowed to receive communion because she's married to a man who had been divorced. So last year she wrote to the Pope asking for clarification. And what did he do? He called her. Listen to what her husband had to say about this.


TRANSLATOR: He called and asked for Jackie. I asked, may I ask who is calling? He said, father Bergoglio. She spoke with the pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the holy communion because she was not doing anything wrong. And well, this is very nice.


PEREIRA: Let's bring in Daniel Burke , co-editor of CNN's Belief Blog. Good to have you with us again, Daniel. So we know that the Vatican has confirmed the phone call, but they're only saying that this is part of the Pope's, quote, personal pastoral relationships. That leaves me with a big question mark. What does that mean?

DANIEL BURKE, CNN CO-EDITOR, BELIEF BLOG: Essentially -- and this has happened a couple of times with this Pope -- he's been called the cold-call Pope by some because he just picks up the phone and calls people. Essentially what the Vatican says is these are private phone calls. Even though the Pope is a very famous man, what happens in these phone calls is between the person he's speaking to and the Pope himself. Now, of course, in this modern media age very little is private. This woman's husband posted something on Facebook. The media picked it up. It ricocheted across the world. Part of that is because it was addressing such a sensitive topic for the church. Whether people who are divorced and remarried can receive communion.

BERMAN: It seems to me they're saying it's not the official policy of the Catholic Church. But forgive me Daniel, but it seems to me that if the Pope is doing something, it probably carries a lot of weight within the Catholic Church. And we know that this is an issue that he's already addressed in some cases. He plans to address, I think, much more deeply when he has a meeting of bishops and cardinals coming in the fall. Is this now on the table, do you think?

BURKE: Oh, sure it's on the table. There are even some people who are saying that the Pope essentially Biden'd the debate. Remember a couple years ago Biden came out in support of same-sex marriage which essentially forced President Obama's own hand. In this case the Pope has laid out his position pretty clearly. He expects some sort of change to happen at this meeting. People are expecting some sort of change to happen at this meeting.

PEREIRA: It might seem like some he's going rogue, but in many ways it seems like he's forcing a hand. Before we lose you, we know that a couple of Popes of the 20th century will be declared saints this weekend. This is an historic occasion.

BURKE: The canonization will happen for two men that arguably did more than anyone else to shape the 20th century, that's pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. The Vatican is expecting upwards of 1 million people. What's really significant is that the Pope is reaching out to both the right wing who revered Pope John Paul II and the left wing of the church who revered John XXIII. The Pope is bringing them together in a really symbolic way on this Sunday.

BERMAN: I think this is a Pope who has shown he is deft as a religious leader but also a political leader. And this just one more example of that. Daniel Burke, great to have you with us. This is a discussion we'll be having repeatedly because it's fascinating.

PEREIRA: And many are talking about he's the people's pope. Yet it shows those other strategic moves he's making in a quiet way.

Of course, we'll continue to focus flight 370, missing for more than a month and a half now. The search conditions. The question is are they looking in the right place? We'll take a look at that ahead @ THIS HOUR.


PEREIRA: Half past the hour here. @ THIS HOUR, the submersible drone, Bluefin-21, is conducting its 12th deep sea mission for Flight 370. That device has only about 10 percent left of the search area to scan. And as far as we know, the search of that remaining portion is under way as we speak. We'll have more on that missing jetliner in a moment.

BERMAN: Three American hospital workers were shot and killed in Afghanistan today. Allegedly by a security officer that was guarding the place that they worked. It all happened in downtown Kabul. Authorities say the guard also shot himself but survived. CNN has learned that one victim was a pediatrician from Chicago who moved to Kabul nine years ago. Afghan officials say the other two victims are a father and son. This is such a tragedy. Right now the motive is not clear.

PEREIRA: Real concern about what's going on in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning Ukraine over its military operations against pro-Russian militants. He says if Kiev is using its army against its own people it's, quote, a very serious crime and will have consequences. He's also pointing to events in eastern Ukraine as justification for Russia's annexation of Crimea.

BERMAN: Now to the mystery of flight 370. Malaysia delivered a preliminary report on the plane investigation to the U.N.'s aviation arm but did not release it to the public, nor the families of flight 370 passengers. Our Sumnima Udas is in Kuala Lumpur with the details.

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Malaysian authorities have submitted a preliminary report to a U.N. body governing international aviation, but they're not releasing it to the public. This is unusual because such reports are normally published. Now, why the Malaysians want to keep this confidential, that's still to be determined. But for the families of the passengers and crew members on board mh370, this is yet another example of how the Malaysian authorities are perhaps not being transparent enough. They keep complaining that they feel the Malaysian authorities are hiding something. Now, the Malaysian authorities, meanwhile, say they don't have the answers themselves and that they are being as transparent as possible because Malaysia has nothing to hide. John and Michaela?

PEREIRA: A lot of the families would doubt that. You know, they wonder if they have something to hide. It's certainly a tough question