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Deadly Explosion At Florida Jail; Historic Flooding In Southeast; Rob Ford Seeks Help For Alcohol Abuse; Will Sterling Fight Or Sell?; Flight 370 Report to be Released Momentarily; Ukraine's Acting President: Militants Control East

Aired May 1, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. The Malaysian government set to release its first report on the disappearance of Flight 370 any moment. The families of those on board have been demanding to see these findings for weeks. They are hoping to get some answers about the fate of their loved ones.

CNN aviation analyst, Richard Quest is here. We also have Will Ripley live from Kuala Lumpur. We're going to get to them as soon as the report is released. We are expecting it any moment now, but we have another story breaking right now, severe weather. It's just wreaking havoc for millions along the eastern coast of the United States especially the north east is getting pounded right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It just won't quit. The Gulf Coast is also getting some of the worst of it. Pensacola, Florida, making all the wrong kind of history this morning. Record rainfall, enough to sweep away parts of homes overnight. Also overnight, a suspected gas explosion caused part of a jail in Pensacola to collapse. That incident killing two inmates, injuring more than 100. It's unclear though if the blast is connected to the severe weather.

Let's get straight over to Ed Lavandera who is outside the jail. Hopefully, Ed, you're starting to get a better idea of just what happened.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Here the crews are waiting for the sun to come up. The jail and part of the green structure on that building that you see that exploded last night. It was a dangerous situation and deadly.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Breaking news overnight, day four of a catastrophic storm system in the southeast is now barreling up the eastern seaboard threatening millions more. Officials have issued flood warnings from Florida to New York with six inches of rain predicted in some parts of the northeast. City streets are already submerged.

In Maryland, several thousand gallons of water rushed into a town 20 miles south of Baltimore after a breach in the dam. In Baltimore, the deluge so heavy that it caused a massive landslide on one roadway sending a half dozen cars tumbling into a revere. In the southeast, an explosion caused a roof to collapse in a county jail in the Florida panhandle, injuring hundreds of inmates.

It's not known if flooding in the area played a role yet. You can hear the roar of the violent flood waters on Wednesday spawned by nearly 20 inches of rainfall in only 24 hours.

INDRA PARADIS, PENSACOLA RESIDENT: In an hour, everything just started gushing in.

LAVANDERA: Flooding over 5 feet in some areas forcing hundreds of rescues. In Mobile, Alabama, a dramatic moment as flood waters trapped one man, barely able to cling to a tree before he's rescued. The town of Orange Beach, Alabama, almost completely flooded. Its local marina now under water. And in Pensacola, Florida, the torrential rains washed out part of the scenic highway, sending cars plummeting into a ditch.

GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA: It's just unbelievable the amount of flooding we've had because I went to one home where the foundation was gone.

LAVANDERA: Leaving the entire neighborhoods in the city inundated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've lived here 20 years. I've never seen this happen anywhere in the city like this.


LAVANDERA: This is a closer look of the jail here in Pensacola that exploded last night. You can see the structural damage from the force of that blast and officials here trying to figure out the cause, Chris. That building did take on extensive t water in the flooding. The flood waters have receded. They're trying to figure out if that flooding is what caused this gas leak and this explosion last night -- Chris.

CUOMO: They're going to have to check for cracks above and below to see if that building maintained its integrity. Ed, let us know what you find out on the ground. Appreciate the reporting.

You just heard Ed mention that dam break in Maryland that was forcing hundreds of people to evacuate overnight. So let's get to Jeannette Reyes. She is with our CNN affiliate, WJLA. She has details -- Janet.

JEANNETTE REYES, WJLA REPORTER: The rain has stopped for now, but it's too little too late for what's going on here, the current situation. Take a look behind me. This is route one in Laurel. Take a look at the water levels here. This has been going on for the past several hours. I also want you to see right across the street there's a car dealership here. You see those cars parked and that should give you an idea of how high these water levels are.

A little over the halfway mark on those tires. Evacuations currently under way because of this. Everyone in the surrounding area is being asked to leave over 100 residents are already being sheltered at the Robert J. Community Center. Hundreds more are expected, but I want to explain why this is going on. It is due to the rainfall but it's indirectly.

Officials say they were forced to open the dam because of the rainfall and the levels and so all seven gates are open indefinitely. Evacuations are mandatory. It is not an option. Of course, it is for the residents' safety. We will following this story as it develops. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, thank you so much. Let's turn to another story breaking overnight, Toronto's embattled mayor, Rob Ford, says he is now taking time off from his job and re-election campaign to seek additional treatment for alcohol abuse. This comes just after reports of a new video surfaced that all allegedly shows Ford using crack cocaine.

CNN's Paula Newton is following developments live in Ottawa. What do we know this time, Paula?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, what have we ever known here? I think many supporters, even his lawyer saying last night, look, they wish he had said this months ago, and Rob Ford finally uttered those words that everyone wanted to hear, I need help.


NEWTON (voice-over): Calling it one of the most difficult times in his life, embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he is taking a break from his re-election campaign. This comes after the "Toronto Globe" reporting to have seen a new video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine from a copper colored pipe. The publication saying the video was shot this past Saturday in Fords' sister's apartment and that they can't verify the substance was, in fact, crack.

In May of last year, cell phone video was released appearing to show Ford smoking crack cocaine, which he at the time denied and later conceded.

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.

NEWTON: This morning his opponents, outraged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign from his office as mayor.

NEWTON: Mayor Ford released a statement saying in part, I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help, and I am now 100 percent committed to getting myself right. His attorney told CNN Ford is taking a leave immediately for substance abuse problems. Also in comments to "The Globe" he questioned the authenticity of the video and the motivation behind it.

In March, Ford was recorded stumbling and swearing outside Toronto City Hall, and back in January Ford admitted to a, quote, "minor setback" after this rant surfaced. He insisted he had a small amount of to drink, but had not taken any drugs.


NEWTON: Now, Canadian media saying that they have seen parts of this new video. None of it has been released. At this point, Kate, even his lawyer saying, look, he needs help. He's taking some time out to deal with what are clearly some very serious personal issues -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Another dramatic chapter in the life of Rob Ford.

Let's look at more of your headlines. The simmering tensions in Ukraine threatening to come to a boil. Russia's calling on Kiev to halt militaristic statements after Ukraine's acting president declared his country's military was put on full combat readiness. Ukraine's leader making a stunning acknowledgment Wednesday saying pro-Russian militants have taken control of much of the eastern chunk of Ukraine.

In Virginia this morning, federal investigators are raising to find out what caused a train to jump its track in downtown Lynchburg. Several cars burst into flames. Thousands of gallons of crude oil were dumped into the James River. Clean-up crews are scrambling to contain the damage. Some 50,000 gallons of oil are unaccounted for. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but the incident has safety experts calling for greater oversight.

Flight departures expected to be back to normal this morning. Out west after a technical glitch for several airports to ground the airplanes. The FAA says there was a malfunction at a radar center north of Los Angeles. The issue affected airports in several cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. No word of what it caused the radar problem. Of course, there's the ripple effect -- technology.

BOLDUAN: Air travel today?

CUOMO: A lot of questions this morning, but at least we have one answer. We now know how quickly the NBA owners will meet to decide the fate of Donald Sterling. They will meet today, in just a few hours, in fact, and they will decide if the Clippers owner should be forced to sell. Sterling was just banned for life and fined $2.5 million. That's the max he could get because of his racist comments.

There appears to be no shortage of suitors for the franchise, but the big question is will Donald Sterling give up the Clippers or is he going to fight it? For more on that let's get to CNN's Stephanie Elam.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I am banning Mr. Sterling for life.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has ousted Donald Sterling from the league, the question is, will the Clippers owner put up a fight to keep the team.

CEDRIC MAXWELL, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Donald Sterling to me is not going down without a fight.

ELAM: Sterling disgraced after his racist rant went public told Fox Sports that the team is not for sale. But according to the NBA's constitution, if 3/4 of the owners agree that he has to go, Sterling could be forced to sell. Silver pledging to do everything in his power to ensure that happens saying he expects to get the backing he needs. More than 20 teams stating they support Silver's harsh punishment, but it's not yet clear if those public positions would translate into votes. And Sterling does have the right to try to convince the other NBA owners to side with him.

RICK BARRY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Any owner who decides to side with Donald Sterling in this is a fool and in the court of public opinion, he will just as guilty as Sterling.

ELAM: All-star trio is already waiting in the wings ready to pay big bucks for a contender in the league. A spokesperson for Oprah Winfrey says she's talking to entertainment mogul, David Geffen, and software billionaire, Larry Ellison about a possible joint bid. Peaked interest also coming from boxers, Floyd Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya. What about Sterling's family? His wife was at the Tuesday's game as the Clippers beat Golden State, but only after asking for and getting the green light from Head Coach Doc Rivers.

SILVER: This ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling's conduct only.

ELAM: The NBA says no decisions have been made, but the player's association telling Yahoo! Sports it won't accept any Sterling as an owner.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The NBA once they get the 3/4 vote, they are in charge of this franchise and they decide who gets to buy and who doesn't. I have zero doubt that the NBA is going to prevent anyone from the Sterling family from controlling this franchise.

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


BOLDUAN: How long will this legal battle drag out? We'll have to see.

CUOMO: Yes. It's a little confusing. The standard for why they can make him sell.

BOLDUAN: Never happened.

CUOMO: The reason why the make him sell is fuzzy in this. We have a document here, beautiful read if you want to look through it. But how he will test that process is what the question is.

BOLDUAN: Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're waiting for a first look now at a preliminary report expected to be released any moment by Malaysian investigators on the disappearance of Flight 370. It's been a long awaited report. Families have been demanding it. Is it telling us anything we don't already know? Our experts will break it down.

CUOMO: Plus, they have never seen rain like this in Pensacola, Florida. Wait until you see what life is like in the sunshine state. The mayor will join us with details about how bad it is and what they fear comes next.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We are anticipating the release of a long-awaited report on the disappearance of Flight 370. Now, the Malaysian government is agreeing to make it public this morning.

So, let's turn to CNN's Richard Quest who has been covering the story since day one. And very well, I might add.

Now, we have to wait on it obviously to get the details but there are some things that we can expect to see.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Right. The very basics of the report. This is a report that is required by ICAO, which is the International Civil Aviation Organization. It has to be presented within 30 days. They just about made that deadline.

Now, what would we expect this report to say? You want to real basics. You want the who, the when, and the where. Those are the obligate details, the absolute basics that this report needs to do.

Now, once you've done -- once you've short of ticked off the who, what sort of plane was it, where was it flying to and who was flying it and when was it flying. Those are the details.

But thereafter, you can move into an entire arena of possibilities because at its basic, for example, the United States, when it does a preliminary report, the NTSB, it's just three pages long. It is literally the who, what, when, where, and why -- not the why. The who, what, and where. You can put more information in.

So for instance, we may want to know what happened at this particular point when the plane was flying and it did its turn back and which route did it take. They may tell us that. They may not.

CUOMO: Do they know?

QUEST: We'll find out when the report comes out half an hour from now.

CUOMO: What would be the rational for not putting obvious disclosures into this first report?

QUEST: The reason why you might keep the report extremely brief is you really don't want to give too many details away because you're not sure of those details. But I'm going to give you an example of where we have seen pretty different types of reports, where we have seen them. Let's take, for example, in the case of Air France 447. Now, in Air France 447, the report ran through 128 pages, in 32, the report run to 53 pages.

So, you can do large pages if you so wish or you can choose to make them three to four.

CUOMO: Which are functions of what? Known data or completeness? Is there a lot of stuff in this that's just paperwork?

QUEST: You would expect to find out the plane, the route, the details of what time it departed, which route it left. You're looking as if to say -- tell me something I don't know.

CUOMO: No, no, no, it's not that. But there's something curious. A big function of this if I'm hearing you right is motivation of those putting out the report.

And the idea that, well, you may not put out some details because you're not certain of them, OK, but what if you just don't know details or what if you do know things and for some reason -- see, that's the suspicion here is they may know things and they're not saying those things.

QUEST: Right. That is not the function of the ICAO preliminary report. The function of this report is known facts. And the rationale and the annex 13 under the ICAO treaty, manual of accident investigation, is that after several weeks, you know certain things and those certain things can be released publicly.

What I think is perhaps a little bit worrying here is, first of all, the Malaysians didn't tell us that they sent this report. We had to pull it out of them. Secondly, they've made such a deal about releasing it.

CUOMO: Right.

QUEST: This should have just been released when it was sent.

CUOMO: And you were generous. You said the period is 30 days and they just about made it.

QUEST: My understanding, my understanding is they were given leeway. And quite right, too, because they had such an enormous task on their hands. I can -- look, if this report, when it come out, is only five pages long or four pages long, I can make an argument that says, I can understand why because they're too busy trying to find the plane. They've got a blank sheet of paper.

CUOMO: But also, what do they know exactly? I feel I can put it down as one screen what they know, right? I mean, other than the obvious and kind of, you know, boring details of the plane and all of those other things -- why this actually happened and why this other stuff put into the report should be very thin.

QUEST: Yes. But will be the detail, we're looking for detail here about after this last known point of contact what did they know as the plane did this? That's what we're looking for. Who saw it as it went over Malaysia? What did they do about it? What happened at this last point of contact?

Did Vietnam notice it? Did the controller at Malaysia notice it? That's what you're looking to find out.

And if they know details about this -- we know this from Air France 447. We got chapter and verse on what the air traffic controllers did. If you know it here, are they going to tell us it now?

CUOMO: Lastly, why do they get to control the report? Why wouldn't you have someone issuing a report like this checking on the actions on this body as opposed to allowing the body to dictate the completeness of their own work?

QUEST: Because that happens everywhere. That's like saying when the NTSB does a report, who polices the NTSB? If the AAIB in Britain, the BEA in France, somebody has to present the report and it's the investigating authority of the state of occurrence or state of registry.

CUOMO: It's just how it is.

QUEST: It is.

CUOMO: All right. So, we look forward to getting it. I'm more interested in what's not in the report. What it seems they don't know or what they speculated about that they shouldn't have.

QUEST: I can tell you one thing. From my visit to Malaysia, there is no great single fact out there that is not known. There is no hidden secret that's under the carpet that I believe that everybody is saying, psst, don't tell anybody about that.

There are things they don't want to talk about but it's not a big secret.

CUOMO: And why they don't know is one of those big issues.

Richard quest, thank you very much. We will be back with you soon.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, about two feet of rain fell in Pensacola, Florida, in just over 24 hours. Record flooding now producing some streets to rubble or making them look like lakes. We're going to talk to the city's mayor about how they are dealing with all of this, this morning.

Plus, he's an owner in exile. That's for sure. Will Donald sterling fade away or will he fight back against the NBA's efforts to force a sale of the L.A. Clippers? A prominent sports attorney is here to give us his take.


Here's a look at your headlines this hour.

The conflict in Ukraine entering a new volatile phase. Ukraine's acting president publicly admitting the government lost control of two key regions. Pro-Russian militants have seized symbolic buildings in more an a dozen towns and cities in the area. All of this as Ukraine moves to expel a Russian naval attache it accuses of spying.

Let's get the very latest from our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon. She's in Donetsk, a key hotspot, Arwa.


And one of those key cities where we are right now in Donetsk, there was a rally here earlier where you did not see a single Ukrainian flag. Instead, people chanting for Russia, chanting that they want a referendum and absolutely no indication of any sort of authority coming from Kiev.

At the same time, in Luhansk, that other key city that the acting president was talking about, while we were there, in the main administration, now under the control of the pro-Russian camp there were even sandbagged fighting positions that had been set up in the corridors. Plans of moving ahead there to hold a referendum as well.

Despite all of the talk from the central government of wanting to launch the so-called anti-terrorism operation on the ground in these various key locations, there is absolutely no indication whatsoever what Kiev has any sort of authority or that it can take any sort of measures to try to regain any semblance of control over the rapidly disintegrating situation -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Best way to put it, rapidly disintegrating.

Arwa Damon, thank you so much for that latest there in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, back at home, serious damage being caused by all sorts of bad weather across the east coast. Hundreds of people have been evacuated in Laurel, Maryland, after a dam opened up releasing thousands of gallons of water. In Pensacola, largely under water after a storm of epic proportions.

The weather could be responsible for a deadly gas explosion at a local jail. One woman was killed by flood waters yesterday. We're go to talk about the damage. The mayor of Pensacola will be joining us on NEW DAY in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, the winds have died down. Mandatory evacuations have been now lifted for over 1,600 homes in the foothills east of Los Angeles. Wildfire in the areas has burned over 1,000 acres. Families in the northern neighborhoods at Rancho Cucamonga are still being urged to evacuate voluntarily. Since winds are still too high to fight the fire from the air and we certainly know firefighters have their work cut out for them. There's a red flag warning in effect yesterday. Gusts up to 80 miles an hour, Chris. A lot of concern there in east of Los Angeles. We'll keep an eye on that for you.

CUOMO: Right. There's no bigger enemy to fire than wind and obviously that's been a big factor there. So, Mick, thanks for staying on it.

Now, today is a big day. The NBA is going to be one step closer to pushing Donald Sterling out of the league. Ten-member committee of owners is set to hold a conference. On call today together to discuss the next steps in removing sterling as an owner. Is it going to put up a fight? The answer will be yes, if anything is to be expected here. So what will happen here?

Jeffrey Kessler joins us. He's a sports law attorney, partner at the firm of Winston and Strawn LLP.

You know these documents. You've seen them in the past. So, you're right guy to talk to. I'm going to represent sterling's interest in this. Just to help people kind of follow along with the process. All right?

The first question is, can you do this? You represent the owners. Can you do this to me in the first place?