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First Video of What Appears to be Black Box; Brief Cease-Fire Halts Gaza Fighting

Aired July 20, 2014 - 07:30   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We always appreciate your company. Thanks for being with us here. I'm Christi Paul.


Here are five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first, we're learning that what may be one of the black boxes from downed Malaysian Flight MH-17 has been recovered from the crash site. You see that orange item there. This, of course, in a field in Eastern Ukraine where the plane went down, and apparently happened two days ago.

This video is new in to CNN of what appears to be Ukrainian searcher carrying either the flight data recorder or the digital voice recorder. It's not known where the black box is. But it could, of course, tell us a lot about the final moments of the flight that ended so tragically with the loss of 298 lives.

PAUL: Number two, a brief cease-fire is in effect for a neighborhood east of Gaza City right now. The area has seen near constant shelling and bombing since last night. Forty people are dead following last night's assault. And many more could be buried under rubble. CNN's Karl Penhaul describes the citizens there as "shell- shocked".

BLACKWELL: Number three, a Florida jury awarded a widow $23.6 billion, with a B -- $23.6 billion in punitive damages for her lawsuit against the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. The woman whose husband passed away claimed smoking killed her husband and that the tobacco giant was negligent in not in forming him that nicotine is addictive and smoking can cause cancer. RJ Reynolds calls the decision grossly excessive and promises to appeal.

PAUL: Number four: both "Variety" and "The L.A. Times" are reporting actor James Garner has died. He appeared in several box office hits like "Space Cowboys" and "The Notebook", who was best known for two iconic series, "The Maverick" and "The Rockford Files". We do not know a cause of death but James Garner was 86. BLACKWELL: Number five now, look at this. A hot air balloon

crash caught on camera Saturday in Clinton, Massachusetts. You can hear the people screaming. Wow.

According to CNN affiliate, WCVB, the passengers in the balloon were waving and taking pictures when the balloon hit a residential power line during the decent. All six passengers survived. But five of them suffered minor to serious burns in what you see this huge flash, possibly when the propane tank hit those power lines.

PAUL: Hope they are all doing OK.

Let's talk about Malaysia Flight 17 now. Just moments ago, Reuters released video that apparently shows a recovered black box at the crash scene. You see it there in that man's hands?

BLACKWELL: Yes. But this was recorded on Friday. Again, this is just being released but recorded on Friday. We're still trying to figure out who has the black box now, whether it's been examined, of course, we'll tell you as soon as we learn any of those details.

PAUL: Meanwhile, we do know that large numbers of bodies are being collected and loaded on refrigerated train cars today near the crash site in eastern Ukraine. This is according to a CNN team that's traveling with a convoy of international observers.

BLACKWELL: Observers have not independently confirmed if the bodies are from the downed flight but that's what they have been told.

PAUL: The train is expected to remain in place until international specialists arrive. But it's not clear where the bodies will be taken from that point.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in aviation analyst Mary Schiavo, along with Justin Green, aviation attorney, and Floyd Wisner of the Wisner Law Firm.

Good to have all of you.



PAUL: Mary, let me start with you. Good morning everybody.

If the black boxes had been found, first of all, what is your reaction to the thought that they may have been in somebody's hands for the last two days?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I'm glad they have been found and in somebody's hands. My worry is in whose hands do they repose, because they are just a handful of agencies I would trust to actually download the data the NTSB, the BAA, the Australians, the British. You know beyond that I don't trust the Ukrainians or the Russians because they have too much at stake and each have a history of having tampered with evidence in prior shoot-down crisis. The Ukraine on the shoot-down of Siberian Airways, Russia, of

course, former Soviet Union, on a shoot-down of KLA 007.

So, it's good they have them but they need to be in the right hands. Let's hope they don't try to do anything to them before the data can be downloaded.

BLACKWELL: Justin, if investigators determine who is responsible, not just a group but if they have a name, if they indeed determine that Russia, on the Russian military was involved, how do you go after them?

GREEN: Well, that's a very good question. Part of the missing evidence -- I mean, the black boxes apparently have been found. The real missing evidence is the missile battery that took it down, where is that. The missing evidence are the people that manned that missile battery, where are they?

But if we determine that this was shot down as everyone believes right now, by Russian separatists using Russian-supplied equipment, trained perhaps by Russian soldiers, then the world is going to be looking at Russia.

Now, legally, Russia has some of major defenses, it's a foreign sovereign. It's entitled to, like the United States is, to immunity. But I think this is more after political problem for Russia and -- you know, the world is going to be putting some serious sanctions on Russia and I think that it's up to Russia now, not only to help with the investigation, help with the recovery of the bodies, but also ultimately to compensate the victims in the same way the United States compensated the Iranian victims of the Vincennes shoot-down.

PAUL: Yes, good point. I know, getting away from Russia for a second, and talking about these families, because this is a human tragedy as we've had so many people recognize at the heart of this.

I understand, Floyd, let me ask you, that the Montreal Convention requires the airline to pay compensation regardless whether the airline was found to be at fault. Is that true?

FLOYD WISNER, PRINCIPAL, WISNER LAW FIRM, CHICAGO: Well, that is true. The airline will be responsible for the first 100,000 drawing rights, which comes to about $150,000 U.S.

After that, it also will be responsible to pay additional compensation unless the airline can prove that it took all necessary measures to avoid the loss. I don't think Malaysian Air can prove that because it was flying this route and because of that it's going to be somewhat responsible and if it's somewhat responsible, it has to pay full compensation to all of the passengers.

BLACKWELL: Justin, what can investigators -- I know it's probably too soon for lawyers to be involved in such a chaotic scene -- but investigators do to protect the dignity of those 298 who were lost in this crash? GREEN: You know, over the last couple days, I've been watching

Chris Cuomo report from the site and it's been a number of years since I was on one of those scenes. But I have to tell you, it's a horrible, horrible situation, and in fact, I'm quite sure will change anyone's life who has to go through it.

You know, we've already lost about 48 hours. It's in a place where it's not the best place in terms of response, but a lot more could have been done to protect the dignity of these victims. What has to happen is probably DNA testing, it's a long process. It would probably be weeks or even months before it's complete.

And there's still a very good chance that some of the victims will never be identified.

PAUL: Floyd, do you have any thoughts on how this whole unique situation we've been watching unfold that last two days may change aviation law going forward for other airlines?

WISNER: Well, Christi, it's interesting I think it might. One thing that happens in most aviation disasters is that some changes come from them, some changes are made. I think you'll see additional safety measures, security measures about flying over war zones such as this. I think you will see things come about.

This is the first time something like this happened under the Montreal Convention regimes. The other shoot-downs we've been talking about were under the Warsaw Convention, this is the first time some of the rules I've been talking about will apply.

PAUL: Mary, what's your concern about some of the spokespersons and I guess government officials that maybe have not been forthcoming up to this point, now that we have this video of what appears to be the black box, if we put that back up. We haven't heard about this. This came from a news agency. And it's been apparently two days that someone, somewhere had this thing.

SCHIAVO: Right. We've got a hint of it I think Richard Quest got it out of one of the ministers of Ukraine, and he's pretty cagey and said they knew that the black boxes were still in Ukraine.

And so, you know, one can only hope that they are in reasonable hands, thoughtful people, not people who shot down the plane. So my thoughts are, you know, at some point people have to put this together and get reasonable and realize that they are working with a crime scene, and also that this is the possession not only just of the investigators for now but it does belong to the airline and the possessions I have to mention, in any crash, the things of the family members that were lost in a crash, be it a shoot-down, a terrorism or other kind of a plane crash, negligence plane crash, they become very, very important to the families and the families want those back.

And so, they don't even understand that. There are organizations, there are businesses whose job it is to go in there and catalog all of these personal effects and everything in the crash. Put them in books so people can see what belongs to different people. Have that process been put in place, then we'd know not only where the black boxes are but everything else as well.

PAUL: Justin, quickly we've been seeing especially this morning, many of the parents and family members pleading with the government to bring their children and their loved ones home. But from a legal standpoint, if you had any of these people as your clients, what would you advise them to do at this juncture?

GREEN: You know, I think part of the frustration is that they feel helpless and really, they are helpless at this point. It's really going to take -- I mean, the recovery now is finally under way. The bodies will be returned.

But it's really out of the hands of the families and even if they hired a lawyer, the lawyer has very little ability to force anyone to do anything. Really, President Putin probably has the best ability and the government of the Ukraine together have the best ability to make this process go better, better information go out to the families and to quickly like I said before, it will take probably several weeks or even months before all of the remains are identified.

But to make the process go as easily as possible for the families, it's going to be hard no matter what.

BLACKWELL: All right. Mary Schiavo, Justin Green and Floyd Wisner, thank you all for offering your expertise to this conversation. We'll speak with you again as we continue to learn more about this downed plane. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you so much.

GREEN: Thank you for having us.

WISNER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We've got Chris Cuomo on the phone who is there at the crash site.

Chris, I've been following you on Twitter. You tweeted about the bodies and where they are now being placed on this refrigerated train car. What more can you tell us?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Good morning, Victor and Christi. To quote the OSCE monitor, that the international organization that's here observing the violence, but they've kind of then thrust into this position of overseeing what happened with MH17. He says today has been a good day because there was some access, there was a meeting at a local train station that we were able to follow along on, and they did see bodies that were put in refrigerated cars and they were told by the local Donetsk Republic, self-declared republic officials, that they would be kept there until international monitors came, and experts.

They're not able to verify what that means or whether it will be held. They couldn't count the bodies, in part because of practicality supposedly, because of how long they sat outside, very difficult to be around the bodies but also they just weren't given that invitation. And they couldn't do ID either.

We then followed behind as they were finally led into the main crash site. Even though they weren't allowed into it, aviation experts were. So we're going to have to see what they develop.

Bodies are still being taken out of the scene. They are being put in bags but they are lying on the side of the road and it's very hot here. And there's a lot of luggage. It was clearly picked through, Victor.

I have been slow to report about looting. I haven't seen any but it's clear that there is luggage that has been gone through. You see the names on it. And people have picked through things. It's as simple as that.

We are now headed with the OSCE convoy trying to follow along as they go to where the cockpit is that will be very important obviously for aviation experts.

PAUL: All right. Chris Cuomo, live for us there at the scene -- Chris, thank you so much for bringing us the latest. We appreciate it.

And the hospitals are over flowing with victims, the morgues are filled to capacity with dead bodies, we're talking about the scene in Gaza right now. This morning, it is chaos after a relentless round of shelling by Israel.

We're taking you back to that region, next.


PAUL: This is the scene in Gaza today -- thousands running trying to get away from the destruction of more than 15 hours of near- constant bombing from the Israeli military.

BLACKWELL: That assault is on hold for now. The IDF says a cease-fire is in effect to allow aid workers to come in and tend to the dead and the wounded from that overnight assault.

PAUL: Let's get to Martin Savidge. He's joining us from Jerusalem right now.

BLACKWELL: Martin, we're hearing that Hamas has now violated that cease-fire. Do we know what that means for the Israeli end of that? I guess pause as you called it.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We've only got about 40 minutes left. But you're right, there have -- both sides have pointed the fingers at each other saying, that there have been violations of the cease-fire. Hamas is claiming and those in Gaza are saying Israel never let up its artillery strikes. Israeli forces came under attack and as a result it has responded in-kind.

Hamas is claiming and those in Gaza saying Israel never let up on artillery strikes. Israeli forces came under attack from it's presumed Hamas militants, and as a result, Israel says it has responded in kind.

There has been a dramatic escalation of the military operation that's taken place inside especially northeastern Gaza in what's called the Shaja'ia neighborhood. It's been building over the last 24 hours.

We noted it last night. You can, of course, see the flashes, the artillery explosions and the fires last night. But then by daylight, you saw a dramatically huge plumes of smoke and, of course, reports of dozens of civilians that have been killed as well.

It's clear that the Israeli military considers that area to be I guess you could call it a center of terrorist activity, at least on the part of Hamas, that it's carrying out its strikes against Israel. So, that's why they're so focused.

The Israeli military says, by the way, several days ago, they warned the people living in that neighborhood via telephones and via leaflet drops that they should evacuate the neighborhoods. Why people didn't leave is unclear but the Israeli military is maintaining that they gave those people plenty of warning. But whether they heeded it or not, it is quite clear that there is a humanitarian crisis that is building as a result of this substantially increased military operation, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you so much for the update. We appreciate it.

We're going to have more on the crisis in Gaza as well a little bit later on in the show. Wolf Blitzer is interviewing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next hour, right here live on CNN. We'll be right back.


JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

With the situation in Central Washington not getting any better. It is dry, it's staying windy and these fires are continuing to grow, 215,000 acres now burning in Central Washington. These images taken from space courtesy of NASA, and you can see the smoke in the area, and Central Washington there, even down into Oregon, even in Canada, dealing with these fires.

This is roughly the size of the Dallas metroplex and so we're talking about an incredible area, over 100 homes have burned, and so the situation not getting any better any time soon.

We're looking at the smoke now offer much of the country into Canada because of the fires and because the wind has driven the smoke to cover much of the country, just incredible courtesy of NOAA right there.

And the situation like we mentioned not getting much better with temperatures still staying warm, especially down to the South, where temperatures are going to stay in the 90s especially as you head down towards Salt Lake City. Seattle, of course, warming back up into the mid-70s and Boise seeing temperatures in the upper 90s.

So, the heat will continue. We actually have heat indices in the plains, in the triple digits for the coming days.

Of course, more NEW DAY right after the break.