Return to Transcripts main page
Possible Lead in Natalee Holloway Case Prompts Search Near Beach in Aruba; Mysterious Death of Boy After Ride on One of Disney's Attractions
Aired June 15, 2005 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Bill Hemmer. A possible lead in the Natalee Holloway case prompting a five-hour search near a beach in Aruba. A closer at what clues, if any, were found there.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And the mysterious death of a four- year-old boy after a ride on one of Disney's scariest attractions. Safety question about Mission Space, on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It was a pretty scary situation on the West Coast.
HEMMER: It certainly was. An earthquake late last night making a lot of people think about a possible tsunami.
O'BRIEN: In fact, it was almost the same magnitude as the Loma Prieta quake, and that earthquake is where we begin this morning. The tsunami danger over for the entire West Coast now. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck off the northern California coast last night. The epicenter only 90 miles from Crescent City, California.
A tsunami warning went out along the coast, from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to the Mexican border, about 1,400 miles. It was called off only an hour later. It's believed to be the first large-scale tsunami warning in 19 years. Police hurried people off the beaches, and people in low-lying areas headed for higher ground. Scientists issued the warning quickly because of how close the earthquake was to shore.
David Applegate is a government earthquake adviser. He joins us from Washington this morning. It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.
DAVID APPLEGATE, USGS EARTHQUAKE ADVISER: Certainly.
O'BRIEN: It was a relatively large quake, and as we mentioned, it was centered in the water, but near the coast. Why was there no tsunami?
APPLEGATE: Well, this kind of earthquake turned out to be similar to the one that you mentioned, the Loma Prieta earthquake that struck San Francisco, and then it was a strike-slip earthquake. The one that hit Sumatra was what we call a thrust quake, where you have one plate moving over another, and that's what causes the jolt in the sea floor, and that causes a jolt in the water column and generates the tsunami. Because this was strike-slip it was moving side to side, and it didn't generate that same jolt.
O'BRIEN: How long before you know that an earthquake is going to cause a tsunami? It is just matter of watching and waiting? Can you tell if you have a strike slip or a thrust kind of earthquake?
APPLEGATE: Well, the key is the density of the seismic interpretation in terms of how quickly we can get the data in. And of course this data is fed from the USGS, from regional networks, into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations tsunami warning centers. They're the ones who make the call on tsunami warnings.
O'BRIEN: There was recently another earthquake in California. I think was it was the 5.6 magnitude, somewhere around Palm Springs. Is this normal activity, or is it kind of predictive activity, sort of predictive of something bigger and worse to come?
APPLEGATE: Well, it does fall within the realm of normal. We certainly see a fair number of magnitude-five quakes, five-plus quakes, similar to the one that was in -- south of palm springs. Magnitude sevens aren't as frequent, and they are certainly a cause for concern when they occur. Of course, fortunately, this one wasn't right at a population center. But no, this is, this falls within the realm of normal.
O'BRIEN: The tsunami that killed people back in 1964 was right near Crescent City, as well. That's where the people who died were located. I mean, sort of remarkable that that's where this one also was, and that that's the city that considers itself the most tsunami- prepared, tsunami ready place in the country.
APPLEGATE: Well, what's really striking is that the tsunami that was generated back in 1964 was actually generated off the coast of Alaska. That was the last great earthquake magnitude-nine plus earthquake, before the one we had in Sumatra that struck Alaska. The waves from that went down the West Coast, and one of the challenges with the tsunami is that the waves can get focused by the shoreline. Crescent City is in a location that tends to do that. And so, they were -- whereas this was an earthquake just offshore. The tsunami that struck them in '64 was actually one off of Alaska. That's why NOAA is developing it's buoy system, to be able to address those kinds of distant tsunamis to be able to issue appropriate warnings.
O'BRIEN: People were given about 40 minutes, we're told, in order toe evacuate, those who decided to evacuate. Do you think that's enough time? Or is that considered a lot of time?
APPLEGATE: Well, you always want to have as much time as possible. Certainly for a quake that was this close offshore, it's in that kind of a time frame in which you are going to be able to act. With the more distant sources -- for example, in the case of the Alaska quake -- there would be potential for several hours of warning once the buoys that NOAA placed in the Pacific Ocean picked up evidence of a tsunami in progress.
O'BRIEN: Big earthquake, really. Big magnitude, but lots of good news to report really with minimal damage and certainly no lives lost.
David Applegate is with the USGS. Thanks for talking with us this morning. Appreciate it -- Bill.
HEMMER: Now to two stories developing at this hour in Iraq. A deadly suicide bombing on an Iraqi military base. And an Australian hostage is set free after six weeks of captivity.
To Baghdad we go and Jennifer Eccleston.
Jennifer, bring us up to date from there.
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Bill.
That's right, the details still coming into us from Iraqi official. But what we know now, that upwards of 23 Iraqi military have been killed by a suicide bomber at a canteen at a military base north of Baghdad in the city of Baquba. And as I say, we are still getting more details about this event, and we will keep you posted.
And this follows of course the other news of the day, more positive news, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard announcing a short while ago to his public that their national, Douglas Wood, taken hostage six weeks ago, is freed from his captors in an Iraqi-led military operation, which had U.S. support. He is now in the hands of the U.S. military in Iraq undergoing medical treatment. Of course, he's a longtime California resident. He's 63 years old. He was working as a contractor here in Iraq, and he had an American wife. We last saw him on May 1st, when a video was released of him pleading for his life, and also pleading for Australia to take out its some 1,400 troops here as part of peacekeeping operations. The Australian government did not give in to kidnapper's demands, but they did send an emergency response team here to try and secure his release.
We also know that Woods' family launched a very public media campaign taking on odds on Arabic television and also in Arabic newspapers, saying that he was in dire need of medicine. This comes just days after French journalist Florence Aubenas was released after five months of captivity. And just putting this into a little bit of perspective, we know that there are 30 people still being held hostage in this country. One of them is Jeffrey Ache. He's an American contractor, and he was kidnapped in late April -- Bill.
HEMMER: And good news for the Australian. Jennifer Eccleston in Baghdad today, thanks.
Want to move to Aruba right now. Sources telling CNN that the three suspects being held in Natalee Holloway case are giving conflicting stories. All this as investigators were out in force again on Tuesday, combing an area near a Marriott hotel for new clues there.
HEMMER: Reuben Trapenberg is the spokesman for the Aruban government. He's in Palm Beach, Aruba.
Thank you for your time this morning, sir.
REUBEN TRAPENBERG, ARUBAN GOVT. SPOKESMAN: Good morning, Bill.
HEMMER: This latest investigation near the Marriott, about a 10- block stretch away from the Holiday Inn, did that investigation turn up anything in this search?
TRAPENBERG: It did not turn up anything. A few articles of clothing were found, from what we hear, condoms, but that's not from an official source. This is from people who were in the area, and that would not be unusual. The area is sort of known as sort of a lover's lane. At some -- about three or four weeks of the year it's used as a camping ground. The undergarment in this case, a women's undergarment that was found, seemed to be from an older person. So from what we hear, it's probably nothing to do with the case, but they are going to be checked anyway.
HEMMER: Is that particular search over, then?
TRAPENBERG: At this point, it's over. If they would have continued on, it would have been kept off limits. That was finished, terminated last night, so I think at this point, this area is excluded. But searches have been ongoing. Maybe this one was a little more visible, and they had to keep the area free of, I guess, contamination, whatever. The investigative team know how to do their work. We from the government cannot interfere in what they do. We just hear it from them.
HEMMER: All right, we clearly understand that. Try and clear up these reports we heard from back here. One of them says that these three men, two from Suriname and one from -- of Dutch dissent, apparently there stories are changing as they give these stories to police. Is that a fact?
TRAPENBERG: That's what we hear on the outside, from other people, like from the security guard. And from the official sources, you would not be able to hear that. If we heard what they were saying in one way or another, it would compromise the investigation and the court proceedings later on. So that would be considered a great mistake. We wouldn't hear that.
HEMMER: Then try and clarify this then. Go back 10 days. What would explain why these three young men would be taken into custody, and then questioned and then released. What would explain why they would be allowed to go without all these questions answered at that point?
TRAPENBERG: Believe me, the whole country of Aruba, all the people of Aruba, have that same question. Anybody would logically tell you that that would not be done, at least if we were investigators. But from the official investigative team, from the prosecutor, we heard that it was tactical reasons. No details given at that point. We could figure out that they may have been followed, tapped, et cetera. That's our interpretation, but she said tactical preens.
HEMMER: Yes, and when you say tactical reason, there's another report that says their cell phones were tracked and they were monitored. Can you say at this point whether or not that indeed happened? Is that a fact?
TRAPENBERG: No. We cannot say whether that's a fact or not. That's the answer she gave. We give interpretation to that, but we would not find that out at this point, again, until you get to court, when you would hear those details.
HEMMER: Reuben Trapenberg's a spokesperson for the government there in Aruba. Thank you, sir. And good luck. I hope this ends well somehow.
TRAPENBERG: Thank you, Bill.
HEMMER: Thanks -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Well, it could be weeks before authorities in Florida know why a young boy died after riding one of the attractions at Disney World. The disturbing death involves one of the theme park's most popular and technologically advanced rides.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Disney World's Mission Space is a bonafied thrill ride. Kids are adults are wowed by its simulated astronaut experience. But there are concerns the ride's G-forces may have been too much for 4-year-old Daudi Bamuwamye. He died Monday after passing out during the Mission Space ride. It's not yet known whether the ride caused his death. Early autopsy results show no signs of trauma. The boy was 46 inches tall, two inches taller than the ride's minimum height requirement. There is no age requirement. The ride was shutdown following the incident, but reopened yesterday after internal inspectors found no mechanical problems.
Mission Space uses NASA technology to recreate the feeling of a rocket launch. Since its opening in 2003, seven people, aged 40 or older, have been hospitalized as a result of the ride with nausea or chest pain.
Still, it's one of Epcot's most popular attractions. There are clear warnings that the experience is not for everyone, that riders should be in good health.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a pretty intensive five-minute experience. But it's one that's very, very close to giving you a sense of the reality of what the training and the simulation environment really is in the astronaut corps.
O'BRIEN: We continue our look at this issue coming up in the next hour with an expert on theme park safety. That's just ahead.
O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, jurors said there was not enough evidence to convict Michael Jackson. So where did the prosecutors go wrong? D.A. Tom Sneddon is our guest, just ahead.
HEMMER: Also this incredible story of survival after a fiery plane crash in a residential neighborhood. We'll talk to the pilot who was able to turn this street into a runway, coming up.
O'BRIEN: Plus, a former soldier comes home, 40 years after deserting his country. Didn't take long to wear out his welcome. We'll explain ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
O'BRIEN: Federal investigators are looking into what forced a sight seeing helicopter to make an emergency water landing on Monday in New York City. It happened in the East River, right near the southern tip of Manhattan. The chopper had just taken off from the Wall Street heliport. Six tourists and the pilot have been treated and released. A British woman still hospitalized. She's in a medically induced coma. The NTSB says it could be two weeks before they know exactly what caused the problems.
Well, residents evacuated from a quiet Florida street. They could return home as early from today. They were forced from their homes on Monday, when a cargo plane crash-landed in their neighborhood in Ft. Lauderdale. The vintage DC-3 came down just after takeoff. Remarkably all three men onboard escaped the burning wreckage with just minor injuries.
Charles Riggs was the pilot. He's in Fort Lauderdale this morning.
It's nice to see you, Charles. Thanks for talking with us.
It's pretty much a miracle, I have to say, that nobody died in this crash, because when you look at the pictures of the wreckage that's left in this plane, it's pretty amazing to look at. When did you realize that you had a problem?
CHARLES RIGGS, PILOT: Absolutely immediately after takeoff, maybe 100 feet in the air.
O'BRIEN: What was wrong?
RIGGS: We started losing power on the left engine. And we had to work pretty quick because we were close to the ground. And we went through emergency procedures. They weren't, you know, working quite correctly, and so we had to pick a spot to land.
O'BRIEN: How did you pick where you were going to land? Because as we mentioned, we're not talking about the bunch of cornfields and you kind of have your choice; we're talking about neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale.
RIGGS: Right. Well, there was a major artery commercial boulevard close by, loaded with cars, and this was the next road that was available to us.
O'BRIEN: I've read that you said it wasn't just the cars or the lack of cars which made it a good spot, that also you saw a lot of trees. Why was that a good thing?
RIGGS: Well, trees will help slow the aircraft down, which is actually what happened, and we only, you know, rolled maybe 300 feet.
O'BRIEN: So you hit the ground, you roll 300 feet, and you are essentially on fire. How did you all get out?
RIGGS: Well, the impact caused the fire, and we opened an emergency escape hatch, and the cargo handler jumped out, and the copilot was next, and then I got out.
O'BRIEN: The people in the neighborhood said that it's no exaggeration to say they could lean out and touch the plane from their apartments practically, because you were that close to all the residences. You must have been very concerned about the people on the ground, of course.
RIGGS: Yes. After everything was over, you know, we were worried, and there was actually people trying to approach the aircraft while she was burning, and then she exploded a few times. We were, you know, happy that no one did get really hurt on the ground.
O'BRIEN: This was, I've read, was not your first rough landing, that you've actually had a fair amount of experience in non-optimal conditions for bringing a plane down. You were in Vietnam. Tell me a little bit about how that experience affected what you did in this incident.
RIGGS: Well, I think you just have to use everything you have in your brain to, you know, try and get the aircraft on the ground safely, and to preserve, you know, people's lives on the ground.
O'BRIEN: Did you feel like you'd flashed back to Vietnam or something?
RIGGS: Well, maybe after, but you're pretty busy when all that's happening.
O'BRIEN: Yes, I would bet you are.
At the end of the day when you look at some of these pictures and you sort of figure that's everybody's fine, thank God, do you feel like it was a matter of skill, or that this was just an out-and-out miracle that this all ended pretty well?
RIGGS: Well, we picked the spot, and I think, you know, God had a major part in it after that. And we -- the three of us, you know, hobbled and ran away. O'BRIEN: A little bit of both is what you're saying.
Charles Riggs, joining us from Fort Lauderdale. We are happy to see that you are alive and well, your team as well, and everybody on the ground, too. Thanks for talking with us -- Bill.
RIGGS: Thank you.
HEMMER: Job well done. Thanks, Soledad.
In a moment here, one of the biggest media companies in the world now splitting up. We are "Minding Your Business" on that story. We'll get to it after a break here, on AMERICAN MORNING.
HEMMER: Welcome back everyone. Twenty-four minutes now past the hour. A giant media merger biting the dust, and Gerri Willis, working for Andy Serwer, looking into this, and "Minding Your Business" now.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill. Good to see you.
Viacom is splitting into two companies. You may remember way back in 1999, the big media company joined hands with CBS. It was a massive $36 billion merger that Sumner Redstone, the CEO at the time, described as dictated by destiny. Today, not so much. The company is breaking into two.
Let's take a look at the two entities. One will be called Viacom with -- pardon me, one will be called the CBS Corporation, with CBS obviously and other broadcast affiliates. The other the old-fashioned Viacom, with Nickelodeon, MTV, VH-1 and Paramount Studios. Now this is an interesting evolution, because we had a lot of big media mergers in the '90s, and lots of questions about them now -- Bill.
HEMMER: So you're putting TV in one category, the Cable properties in another.
WILLIS: Right. It's back to where they were way back in 1999, essentially splitting up the Viacom and CBS brand names.
O'BRIEN: Are we rewriting the definition of destiny?
WILLIS: We're rewriting the -- listen to this quote from yesterday, Sumner Redstone after saying it was destiny to get together, says sometimes divorce is better than marriage.
O'BRIEN: Well, we're going to find out, aren't we? At least they will.
WILLIS: We are going to find out. We are going to find out. Lots of companies, in fact, with big tie-ups in the '90s. Now big questions. As we know, Morgan Stanley under pressure here. They could end up splitting up again with Dean Witter, so lots of questions about these big deals that made headlines.
O'BRIEN: We've got a little bit of experience of that close to home, don't we?
WILLIS: We do indeed. Lots of questions about AOL and whether Time Warner should spin out AOL. Of course it hasn't happened. There have been other deals, though, other units spun out, so we'll just have to watch and find out.
HEMMER: Thank you, Gerri. Good to see you here today. All right, here's Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Well, guys, listen to this story. Some people really have all the luck. For the second time this year, Donna Goeppert won $1 million from a Pennsylvania Lottery scratch-off game. She says, I can't believe I won again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA GOEPPERT, LOTTERY WINNER: I don't feel like a millionaire. I just feel at ease now, because I know my life will be a lot easier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: You don't feel like a millionaire because you have $2 million. Goeppert filed her second winning ticket on Friday. Lotto officials say odds of winning just one time are nearly 1.5 million to one.
Much more AMERICAN MORNING still to come.
Ahead on "90-Second Pop": The Dark Night swoops back in the movie theaters. Will "Batman Begins" recharge the blockbuster franchise? And Hollywood loves a sequel. Phil Jackson reunites with Kobe and the Lakers. But can the coach restore L.A.'s luster? That's later on AMERICAN MORNING.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com