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Severe Turbulence Injures Passengers; Authorities Seeking More Sophisticated Equipment; Deadly Violence Spreading In Ukraine; Acrobats Injured In Circus Accident; Islamist Abduct Over 200 Nigerian Girls

Aired May 5, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, May 5th, also known as Cinco De Mayo. It's 6:00 in the east and we do have breaking news overnight. Terrified U.S. Airways passengers describing the fear that their plane was going down. The pilot was force to turn the Orlando-bound plane back to Philadelphia Sunday. Six people were injured including two crew members. CNN's Rene Marsh is following developments from Washington for us. Rene, what happened?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This was heart pounding moments for the more than 200 people on board. Take a listen as they describe this major shakeup 17,000 feet in the air.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shoes were flying, cell phones were flying, people were screaming. It was very, very, very scary.

MARSH (voice-over): A frightening scene on a U.S. Airways flight as passengers were jolted around injuring six people, sending five including two flight attendants to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought we were going down.

MARSH: The Orlando-bound flight hit severe turbulence shortly after taking off from Philadelphia International Airport. Passengers say the drop in altitude came out of nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were going and there was a drop like you were going down the bottom of a roller coaster and things just flew up in the air.

MARSH: One passenger described seeing a woman flying out of her seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lady three rows in front of me, she bashed her head to the plastic. The plastic was broken.

MARSH: This photo shows cracks in another overhead compartment after a passenger crashed into it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was crazy, lifted out of our seats.


MARSH: All right, if this sounds familiar remember just back in February we covered a United Airlines flight with severe turbulence. A number of people were injured in that case including a flight attendant who was seriously injured and had to be taken to the hospital. As for this particular case here we do know that the FAA is now investigating. Back to you guys.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Rene, thank you so much. There is also continuing to be the search for Flight 370. An expansive new search in this area is underway now and search teams are going to need more sophisticated equipment to get a better look at the ocean floor. Overnight officials from Malaysia, Australia and China, they announced a new direction for the mission and promised to find the jet no matter how long it takes.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Kuala Lumpur with much more. So Will, what's up with the new search area?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the international team of experts that met here in the initial days after MH370 disappeared will now be heading to Camaros (ph), Australia meeting once again going over all of their data to make sure they still believe they are looking in the right place. This comes after more than 4.6 million square kilometers has been searched. Thousands of miles have been spent on the air. And so far not a single piece of this plane.

So on Wednesday of this week this team will get back together and go over their new data and refine the search area and try to figure out if this 23,000 square miles in the Southern Indian Ocean is still the right place to be looking. They will also be meeting to go over the technology they need to bring in.

The Bluefin-21 in the 18 dives have only searched about 154 square miles. They need to search 23,000 square miles. There is not a lot of technology that can do that on the planet that can do that, Chris. You can hold it up the number of devices that exist with this search. Certainly a lot of work ahead.

CUOMO: All right, appreciate the reporting. We will be back to you this morning.

We also want to talk about blood shed that is growing as nothing seems to calm the situation in Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters are becoming more aggressive as Russians troops continue to line the border. The word invasion looms large. Almost 70 separatists were released from police headquarters in the southern city of Odessa after protesters violently stormed the facility. They had been detained after a protests left dozens dead as Kiev struggles to limit the separatist now expanding half way across the country. On the ground, we gave Arwa Damon.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's increasingly grim picture emerging despite the fact that the central government has beefed up troop presence and launched the anti-terrorism operation. All indications that the pro-Russian camp is the one that is the ultimate authority.


DAMON (voice-over): Gun fire erupts. Pro-Russian separatists attack this military recruitment center forcing Ukrainian troops to evacuate. Where are the gun men, someone shouts. The weekend violence the loudest since the conflict began potentially pushing the nation. About 40 people were killed in a blaze in the trade union after riots broke out on Friday. Another six people were killed in clashes.

In Odessa over the weekend protesters stormed the police headquarters demanding release of comrades arrested during the unrest. The pro- Russian demonstrators smashed windows and security cameras. Ultimately dozens of detainees were free. The escalating violence heightening the fears that Russia has a reason to invade.

REPRESENTATIVE ELIOT ENGEL (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Our NATO allies, they are scared to death. They think that if Putin gets away with this they may be next.


DAMON: And those fears are not unfounded. Those former soviet nations have their own Russian-speaking populations. Of great concern here is how the Ukrainian government is going to be able to regain control over these various areas and avoid a Russian invasion, which many will tell you at this stage feels like it might be unavailable.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Arwa Damon, on the ground for us.

Now to the chaotic and frightening scene after a circus performance takes a terrible turn in Providence, Rhode Island. This morning authorities are trying to determine exactly what caused an apparatus holding acrobats in the air to fail sending them plunging to the ground. Nine performers were injured in the fall. CNN's Alexandra Field is joining us now with much more. Their act is dangerous by nature but never expected this to happen.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly you see impressive stunts. These acrobats were 25 to 35 feet in the air when they all crashed to the stage. Some of the 4,000 people in the audience thought it was a stunt, but then quickly realized it was all very real.


FIELD: A circus act goes horribly wrong. Eight acrobats suspended by their hair suddenly plunge when the apparatus holding them fails. Eleven people injured, one critically.

STEVEN PARE, PROVIDENCE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER: At this point it doesn't appear to be life threatening. They are serious injuries from that high end fall.

FIELD: The fall, a frightening sight for the thousands of spectators including many children. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first people thought it was part of the show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came on top of everybody. It was scary.

FIELD: Promotional video shows what the stunt is supposed to be like. A spokesperson tells CNN the apparatus has been used several times since the show launched in January and safety has always been their priority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): All of the equipment used by this group of performers as well as all other performers is carefully inspected. We take the health and safety of our performers and guests very seriously. Our company has safety departments that sends countless hours making sure all equipment is safe for continued use.


FIELD: The aftermath of that accident shows were canceled yesterday and more canceled this show. Officials in Rhode Island tell us it is the circus responsible for permitting. So they will have to answer the questions here of what went wrong.

BOLDUAN: So many questions this morning. Alexandra, thank you so much.

MICHAELA PEREIRA: We will speak with someone who used to perform with the Ringling brothers coming up on NEW DAY.

Right now new pressure this morning though mounting on the government of Nigeria to find more 200 school girls who were kidnapped last month by an Islamist militant group. Thousands of people rallying around the world pushing for greater action. Nigeria's president responded vowing to bring the girls home. CNN's Vladimir Duthiers is in Lagos, Nigeria with more.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here is what we know. The president making a speech, the first speech he has made to the country about this incident, this horrifying incident that took place three weeks ago today. In the middle of the night girls in one of the least educated regions of Nigeria asleep in the dorm rooms, armed attackers storm the campus, shoot-out with the guards guarding the girls, carting these girls away after burning the entire school down.

Now the Boko Haram militant, this Islamic-Jihadist group who believes that western education is a sin is believed to be responsible for this brazen attack. In the past they have attacked churches, mosques, schools, government buildings. This time their target is young girls. The president saying he feels confident he will find them and also admitting that he doesn't know where they are -- Kate.

PEREIRA: Eventually finding them. That is the words the parents don't want to hear. They must be desperate. How are those families holding up?

DUTHIERS: The agony is something that I or most people can't imagine. You send your child to school -- people ask, how is it that the parents are doing? If you think about how you spend the child to school for boarding school and in the middle of the night they are taken hostage by armed attackers, taking them to this forced area that is considered to be a strong hold of a terrorist group and you still have not heard what your government or military is doing to bring these girls home.

Parents that we have spoken to of the children say they have taken sticks, rocks, machetes, anything that they can get their hands on to themselves go into these forest and try to rescue these girls to do the job that they say their military is not doing. They have been turned back because this is a heavily armed insurgent group. They are angry and heartbroken because they don't know if they will ever see their kids again.

PEREIRA: Add to that many other schools are closing out of fear that something like this could happen.

BOLDUAN: Exactly what Boko Haram wanted.

CUOMO: And now you need three weeks in international help to start coming to the grips of this. You know they weren't taken good reason. You know there is no plan for release. We all know what happens next.

BOLDUAN: All right, let's to meteorologist, Indra Petersons, now who is keeping the track of the latest forecast. How is it looking on this Monday?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Nice and calm. Really nice weekend especially in the northeast. A couple of light showers here and there. Upper Midwest and northeast a couple of light showers out there. The big story this week is going to be the heat. Just take a look at some of the record-breaking temperatures yesterday.

Wichita, first time, they hit 100 degrees this early and this is going to continue to be the story. What is going on? Jet stream continuing to lift to the north. We are only getting warmer and warmer especially into the southern plains. The only place we see relief is the northeast and Pacific Northwest where we start to see some light showers. That will be a problem because you get cool air next to warm air by the middle of the week. We have the potential for severe weather by about Wednesday and through Thursday.

Take a look at the temperatures Chicago into the 50s. By tomorrow 26 degrees above normal. Chicago to the 60s. This heat spreads all the way north so by the middle of the week you are looking at 80 degree temperatures. That will be hot. That will set up the threat for severe weather by the middle of the week. Generally kind of mild but things can change quickly.

BOLDUAN: As we have seen last week. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Weather just changes on you all of a sudden.

BOLDUAN: What is it?

CUOMO: I don't know.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the worst violence we have seen in Ukraine yet. The question is Russia going in next?

Does the U.S. and its allies have any answer? We have a military expert to take us through the possibilities. You'll want to hear it.

BOLDUAN: A plane rocked by severe turbulence moments after takeoff from Philadelphia. We are going to show you what happens when turbulence get out of control.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Serious situation to tell you about. Dozens are dead in Ukraine after three days of some of the worst violence we have seen yet. Riots in the southern port city of Odessa. That's not in the east, what's' going on there? And in the east pro- Russian militia's continue to operate freely. Thousands of Russian troops remain just across the border. The threat is all too real.

Let's figure out what is going to happen here and why. We have CNN military analyst former commanding general of the U.S. army intelligence center, major general James "Spider" Marks. General, always a pleasure. Can we start with Odessa and explain to me why this is going on. I thought this was supposed to be a slow boil in the east but Odessa is in the west.

JAMES MARKS, MAJOR GENERAL: Well obviously what we have seen is over here in the east. Odessa has a very long history with imperial Russia, and in the Soviet Union, Odessa was one of the largest ports that they were using for commercial trade. It is not unusual that in Odessa there is a lot of activity there as pro-Russian support. This is not necessarily a harbinger of this migrating over into the rest of Ukraine. I think this is an aberration only because of those deep roots.

CUOMO: So I get aberration in terms of troop movement and swell of violence. Is it a coincidence that it is happening there at the same time or is it a little bit of a window into the dynamic?

MARKS: That is a good point. I would say there is nothing that is serendipitous that is taking place in Ukraine right now. Strings are being pulled. Clearly there are tactical incidents that are taking place, primarily in east Ukraine where someone would take advantage of a situation. This is clearly instigated by Russia. There is no reason why we should not expect this activity would occur in other locations. This makes since, however, in Odessa.

CUOMO: We are going to go to a second animation that shows the buildup that is creating tension here. A little bit of context first, quickly general. One of the points you have been making seems needs to be screamed loudly right now. This is not about pro-Russian militias doing this on their own. Everybody keeps saying, from the military side in the U.S., look at the weapons they are using. Those are straight up Russian issued weapons. They're getting support. Russia saying to the U.S. and allies, you better quiet down the violence. They are causing the violence. Why isn't anybody calling Putin on his role in the insurgency?

MARKS: Clearly that must be done. I can't answer your question.

CUOMO: You must.

MARKS: I'm not the administration. I would love to be able to answer that question. Clearly this is instigated by Russia. Russia has already invaded and they took Crimea. That now belongs to Russia. That happened, it's not like that is about to occur or that it is immanent. This is a violation of international law. What you see over here in the east is the Turchynov, the president - interim president in Ukraine, is trying to calm what is taking place inside his borders. Yet on the outside of his borders in Russia, Putin has amassed this very large force that is the size of a U.S. Army corp. This is 50,000 incredible fighters with skills and training and up armored capabilities..

CUOMO: So Ukraine is moving stuff there. It is a complete mismatch.

MARKS: Complete mismatch.

CUOMO: We are showing it on the board and it looks like a bad setup in a risk game. But this is no game.

MARKS: They are in a tremendous disadvantage. This is not a game. This is serious business. What the president of Kiev needs to be doing is concentrating inside his own borders. He has this large Russian force looming over his shoulders, which clearly provides strategic pressure on him. It is difficult for him to take care of this business when he is concerned about that business.

CUOMO: People said early on , hey, hey Ukraine is a former soviet block, it has a standing army. They know what they are doing. They are having a hard time holding back protesters with sticks and stones. Is there an illusion of integrity of the security within Ukraine's own capabilities here?

MARKS: Not at all. The protests that you see in east Ukraine are really -- this is a tinder box and it has already been lit. It could really spin out of control. This is already an international incident of tremendous magnitude. In the annuls of history these are not a significant number of killed. However, one is sufficient to have a big concern. So the Ukrainian military is clearly not up to this task. This is also a government in turmoil. They have been challenged internationally. They are not getting sufficient support to stop this violence. The economic sanctions are wonderful, but that is a log tale. Also economic sanctions provide value when you do it. This is in response to this problem.

CUOMO: So you are saying sanctions work when you do it to keep you from doing anything like what is going on here. Once it happens --

MARKS: It is to shape conditions.

CUOMO: So now we have already had shaped conditions so the question becomes are sanctions the most effective thing? MARKS: Of course not. If you are willing to allow this type of violence inside a country that could tip inexorably in a terrible direction, keep running down the path of sanctions.

CUOMO: At first we had just mild protest. We thought it would be political. Then they took Crimea. Now you have these hot spots in the east where there is real violence going on. No you have Odessa which is a metaphor to the legacy of the soviet presence here. And you have huge troop buildups. Sanctions don't seem to be scaring anything in this situation.

MARKS: Absolutely not. You are not going to get the result that you are looking for right now, which is everybody to back off and de- escalate. If you are not showing some degree of strength to Putin that you must not interfere as this interim president tries to do his duty to his citizens and he can't because he has this incredible power of Russia's military looming over the border.

CUOMO: The big concern is back here at home. You ask yourself why am I paying so much attention to this? Everybody has problems in the world. They are going to need help and help usually winds up meaning the U.S. in one form or the other. I foresee a future where I am in a flak jacket in this area and we are talking about NATO troops on the ground trying help staunch the violence.

MARKS: Chris you are going to be reporting. It is exactly correct unless this stops.

CUOMO: General, Thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective. Showing things as it is. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY turbulence on flight right after take off. Six on board were hurt. Passengers describe what it was like. We are going to show you how it can happen so fast.

Plus a group of circus acrobats hanging by their hair suddenly plunge to the ground. What went wrong. A circus performer familiar with this particular act will join us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 20 minutes into the flight, all of a sudden, we just feel this boom and the plane felt like it dropped 20 feet down. Shoes were flying, cell phones were flying, people were screaming. It was very, very, very scary.


BOLDUAN: To say the least. Welcome back. Breaking over night, passengers describing their terror. Saying they thought their U.S. Airways flight was going down when it hit severe turbulence Sunday evening. Six people were hurt including two flight attendants. The plane had been bound for Orlando and turned back where it began to Philadelphia where it began. Let's talk about this, how it can happen so quickly, and why it happens so often. David Soucie, CNN safety analyst and former FAA inspector, David, good morning. This, lets start just right here, is a picture from a passenger on board showing how bad the turbulence is. It is obviously a grainy iphone photo. It looks like someone or something hit and cracked the overhead bin.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: With severe turbulence you are dropping quite a ways out of the air. Whatever is not tied down, whoever doesn't have their seat belt on that that point is going to go up.

BOLDUAN: Can you put this in a little bit of perspective for us? How violent is severe turbulence? We all have felt a rumble or shake. People are describing this as a boom. Another passenger said it dropped and rocked violently from side to side. What are they experiencing to make this happen?

SOUCIE: Moderate turbulence that we all have experiences is fairly common. But this is severe turbulence. You can have 10,000 flight hours and only experience this, maybe, three of four times in your entire career as a pilot. So it is very rare, however it is very severe. Moderate turbulence it is ten to 20 feet drops. In this you can drop 100 feet or more.

BOULDUAN: You can drop a 100 feet in severe turbulence?

SOUCIE: Absolutely.

BOULDUAN: And it rocks back and forth like that? Let's talk about the altitude. I want to know if this plays a factor. They said the flight had been still on its ascent. It was only at 17,000 feet. Typical cruising altitude can be about 35-39,000 feet. Does this play a factor in it?

SOUCIE: It sure does because there could have been much more severe injuries. Typically at this point everybody does have their seat belt on. They are still getting to altitude. Below 18,000 feet typically the seat belt sign would still be on. Hopefully people would take not of that and still in their seat belts.

BOULDUAN: So that is actually really good. Is it unusual that severe turbulence would happen around this altitude or is that actually more typical?

SOUCIE: It depends on what region of the country you are in. Over the rocky mountains you get spinning turbulence.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about that actually. This was the flight path of the plane. It was going from Philadelphia to Orlando, and had only made it to about Delaware.