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British Nuclear Submarine Joins Search; Search Area Moves Slight East

Aired April 1, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, it is 8:00 p.m. here in the East Coast of the United States, 8:00 a.m. in Australia, where planes are returning to the search area of the Indian Ocean at this hour looking for any sign of debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The search has so far yielded nothing as you know, and today Australian officials warned that not only is there no wreckage in sight, there's no end in sight to search for the airliner.

We're going to have more on what the lead investigator said in just a moment and what Malaysian authorities have just released but first we begin with breaking news.

Search teams now have a new tool at their disposal, a nuclear submarine from the U.K.

Kyung Lah joins me now live from Australia with the latest.

So this sub, what can you tell us about it? When is it expected to arrive in the search area?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we understand that this sub is at the search area right now. And this is very important. Because it is giving the search teams a capability that they haven't had up until today, which is being able to look underneath the water.

This is a nuclear submarine. It is HMS Tireless from the U.K. It has advanced search capabilities, equipped with the latest sonar technology. And it is designed for warfare. It is able to hunt out nuclear submarines as well as nuclear surface ships. And so that's an important distinction here. If it can find anything, this is the best tool in the arsenal yet for search teams. But the challenge, Anderson, they've got to be able to find it. It's still a big sea out there.

COOPER: And I understand, has the search area, is it still the same search area that it's been for the last couple of days? I thought I saw a new update that looked like maybe it had shifted somewhat.

LAH: You're absolutely right. It has shifted slightly east. And let's take a look at this map. This is the latest information that we're getting from the Australian authorities. It has shifted slightly. And the emphasis is slightly. Every single day this search area does shift. And we're getting just this latest information from the Australian authorities. Ten aircraft will be going out today, nine ships. The search area will be approximately 120,000 kilometers. The challenge today, according to the Australian authorities, is that the weather is going to still be poor visibility, will be poor. But again that submarine is out there not as affected by the weather -- Anderson.

COOPER: I'm really interested in this new search area. And in fact, you know, one can say it's only a slight shift. It looks like a pretty big shift to me. I mean, it's 900 and something 20 miles, before we were talking about some 1400 miles or so.

Had the search craft already gone out this morning? It's 8:00 a.m. there.

LAH: We haven't gotten details of exactly what time the search planes are going out. But I can tell you from having done this since it started is that these planes have been staggering throughout the day, starting right at daybreak which was about two hours ago. They stagger. They try to cover as much area as possible.

And the search area is shifting. That is something that's important to note. Because what they're trying to do is figure out where in the ocean they can knock out the search. And they try to move it because they're trying to cover as much as possible. And so what you're seeing there that map --


COOPER: But also certainly indicates --

LAH: -- slightly moving that it's --

COOPER: I mean, it certainly indicates that they're not exactly sure -- I mean, they're not clear where this thing is obviously. I mean, they thought, you know, with great fanfare they announced this on Friday, this whole new search area. They moved all the resources up. They've clearly exhausted that whole area.

Now they're shifting their search area or they have some sort of new refined information or different analysis of the information. We're going to talk to our panel about that.

Kyung, how -- do we know how the weather is out there in the search area today?

LAH: The weather has continued to be a challenge. Visibility is poor today. But the fact that the planes are taking off tells us that they still consider it good enough to try to search. So planes are flying pretty low to the sea, usually around 300 to 500 above the sea. So it is continuing to be a challenge. But they are still going out there. And that's the distinction.

COOPER: All right. Kyung, appreciate the update. Thanks very much.

The man who's coordinating the search efforts in Australia today underscored the fact there are a lot of variables that are making the search difficult. He said while the best experts in the world are helping out, there isn't a whole lot of hard data to work with. Listen.


ANGUS GRANT HOUSTON, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTRE AIR CHIEF MARSHAL: We don't know what altitude the aircraft was traveling at. We don't really know what speed it was going at, other than obviously we have some information that gives us some idea of the speed. So it's a very inexact science at the moment.


COOPER: Something all viewers know who've been watching this now for the last couple of weeks, they don't know the altitude, they don't know the speed. So they're basically estimating where the aircraft might have ended up and where that debris field may be. Now you see that search area shifting again today.

Some new information has been released, transcripts of conversation between the plane and air traffic control. There's nothing unusual in it that could help answer the question of what happened.

We also have more breaking news tonight. A senior Malaysian government official confirming to CNN's Tom Fuentes that the Malaysian government has received an FBI report on the pilot and co-pilot's computers, as well as the pilot's flight simulator, and there are no red flags there either.

Now this is very significant because as you know the FBI was looking into those computers with lead after lead turning up nothing. The answers that family members want and need actually seem to be getting further and further out of reach.

CNN chief national secures correspondent Jim Sciutto reports.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're scouring the Indian Ocean from the air and from the sea. But all the clues so far have turned out to be false leads, ocean trash and dead jellyfish.

And today the Australian officer in charge of the search for Flight 370 made clear the end is nowhere in sight.

HOUSTON: This could drag on for a long time. It's not something that's necessarily going to be resolved in the next two weeks.

SCIUTTO: Equally stalled is the investigation into why Flight 370 vanished. Today authorities released the full transcript of radio chatter between air traffic control and the cockpit. The back and forth perfectly routine. Air traffic control, 370, 32 right, cleared for takeoff. Good night. The cockpit responded, 32 right, cleared for takeoff, Malaysian 370, thank you, bye.

This has led Malaysian authorities and experts to declare the transcript neither abnormal nor suspicious. MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: The transcript has absolutely no clues of any criminal activity. As transcripts go -- and I've read a lot of crash transcripts -- this one is pretty clean.

SCIUTTO: Still Malaysian officials belated correction of the pilot's last communication to "Good night, Malaysian 370" from the previously reported "all right, good night," have critics again pointing to continuing confusion and contradiction in the investigation.

Now Malaysian authorities are set to ask for more help. Malaysia's defense chief arriving in Hawaii were able to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and possibly ask for more U.S. military assets designed for deep water search and recovery.


SCIUTTO: Malaysian authorities have promised the family members and loved ones of passengers on board Flight 370 a private, behind closed doors briefing with experts. Those experts there to answer questions for family members, including how they have determined what these new search zones are because we know they're working with imperfect information.

But of course they won't be able to answer the questions they want to know most is where is that plane, where might the remains be of their loved ones, and what brought that plane down.

You know, Anderson, I was thinking the name of that British submarine is Tireless.


SCIUTTO: It seems a fitting name for the investigation. I think you could say we're entering a new phase of this where there's a lot of expectations management as to how quickly they're going to find really anything tied to this plane.

COOPER: And again, I mean, I think the headline right now is this search area has shifted yet again.

Jim Sciutto, thanks.

Joining me now is CNN safety analyst David Soucie, author of "Why Planes Crash," David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447 and director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions is with, CNN aviation analyst and veteran private pilot Miles O'Brien and CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Before I get into this sub thing, David Gallo, I mean, you look at that new search area.


COOPER: And you can call it a shift. But it looks like -- that's a new area.

GALLO: It's a whole new area, Anderson. And it's surprising in a way but it looks like they're working their way up that arc. We don't show the arc on the graphic but there was that southern arc. And they must be adjusting it for distance that the plane may have gone. But -- I heard about five different things in that last report that all brand-new to me in the last hour or so. This is interesting.

COOPER: What brand-new to you?

GALLO: Well, the -- the British submarine being --

COOPER: I'm sorry, go ahead.

GALLO: Yes, the shift -- why the shift now, are we just giving up completely on the other location or is there some new bit of evidence that says that we were in the wrong place to begin with.

COOPER: Well, also, David Gallo, it seems like they have perhaps exhausted. You know, they've been searching now since I guess it was Friday, they moved that search area.


COOPER: Maybe they've exhausted the area of searching and they've got to move.

GALLO: Just try -- let's try a different -- well, except if they are following the arc then I think they're just adjusting.

COOPER: Made adjustments.

GALLO: Yes. If they are looking at currents and winds and waves and maybe models are predicting they were in the wrong area maybe that's a different thing. But this is not a slight shift. I mean, we're over totally different kinds of seafloor. And, you know, it's -- I just feel bad. It's got to be tough on the crews that are out there.

COOPER: Exhausting for them.

And, David Soucie, I mean, it's -- you know, a skeptic would say well, look, they -- nobody has any idea. I mean, they're estimating the altitude. They're estimating the speed of the aircraft. There's a huge range in those estimates.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Yes. And this altitude is another bit of new information to me. No one has ever came out and said we don't know the altitude. Up until now it's been well, we have the Inmar data, we know it was flying at 35,000 feet. You know, I speculated earlier it was at 12,000 feet and then everybody said no, it couldn't have been that.

They don't know. They just plain don't know. They're trying to do everything they can with what they have but they don't have much.

COOPER: Richard? RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: They have two pieces of information. The radar data after the 1:19, transponder switch off, the military radar data, down to the Straits of Malacca. And they have the satellite handshakes.

The prime minister of Malaysia, the prime minister of Australia, the transport minister, the air commodore, the wing commander, everybody has said this is the best they've got, poor though it is. And that's why I am not really surprised to see them frankly making it up as they go along. Because they've only got those two pieces of evidence.

COOPER: But that's what they are doing. They're making it up. I mean, they're making up where --

QUEST: They're making up --

COOPER: They're estimating, they're saying, OK, well, if the speed was such and such and the altitude was such and such, this is how far they got. Let's look here.

QUEST: They are using their very small two pieces of information, refining, recalibrating, rethinking. But that is it. Because if there is some other piece of data, they ain't told us. And I think we might have heard about that by now.

COOPER: Miles O'Brien, what do you make of the shift?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think, Anderson, you know, what you've got here is we know from the Inmarsat returns, these handshakes, we can speculate pretty well as to when the flight ended. It was either the last full handshake or the so-called half handshake. OK? So that means the plane was in the air for about seven hours.

But that's all we know. So imagine if we have this last radar return and it gives you a rough altitude and speed. There's still seven hours that has transpired afterwards that we don't know what happened, whether the altitude changed, whether the speed changed. And for that matter we're not certain it was flown to fuel starvation. That's way too many variables to come up with any sort of concerted search area.

So it should come as no surprise to us that they are thrashing about. And frankly growing increasingly pessimistic that they'll ever find any wreckage.

COOPER: Really? Why? I mean, just because of the length of time?

O'BRIEN: It's the length of time but it's the sheer size of the ocean and the fact that yes, we know it's on this giant circle somewhere on the planet based on the -- assuming the Inmarsat information is accurate. We presume it to be relatively accurate. But without that -- that other information about its range essentially, what was the range of the aircraft, that still is a giant, giant area.

And, you know, we're talking about 10 aircraft that are looking. Ten aircraft that are looking in this giant ocean with no specific location. COOPER: David?

SOUCIE: Just because you have range and you have a distance, you don't know whether that aircraft was doing this, you don't have any idea what was going on in between. So to just assume --


COOPER: You don't know if it's flying a straight line, you don't know --

SOUCIE: Right. It could have been going left, it could have been going right. If the auto pilot was disengaged and just flying on trim it would have been a lot less stable. There's just too -- there's just too many variables.

COOPER: Significant information just in terms of the investigation, though, and this coming from David Fuentes, former assistant FBI director, was working with CNN, saying that the FBI has given over to the Malaysians the information that they have. Nothing apparently -- let me make sure I get this right. That on the flight simulator and the hard drive and on the pilot's laptop, nothing suspicious. A senior Malaysian government official also confirming to Tom nothing negative was found.

So all those questions about, you know, is there going to be something on the laptop, is there going to be something on the simulator from our reporting it seems not, Richard.

QUEST: And in that information, the pendulum swings back the other way. Because when you were talking and there were all these leaks about oh, flight plans and erased data and all these sort of things --

COOPER: Right. There was the --


COOPER: A reporter from "USA Today" was saying her reliable Malaysian government source was saying that the pilot was the one under suspicion.

QUEST: And this pendulum swing right the way over to the pilot must have done it. But then we discovered, no, it wasn't erased, it was merely written over by later data. And so the pendulum swings back again.

This is without doubt -- I don't know how many people have to sort of say this, but this is without doubt unprecedented. Not any one of us who has looked at these things over many years has ever seen anything like it. And if they have, please do speak up now.

COOPER: And, Miles O'Brien, I mean, again, as Richard said, the pendulum has swing now away from the pilots, away from the co-pilot.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, in some quarters. But you know, I'm not big on the pendulum idea. I still would like to have the full menu laid out. And let's not deselect items prematurely. You know, each little shred of whether it's evidence or rumors, for that matter, leads us in a certain direction. It's very difficult to exclude almost anything still.

COOPER: They also said that the Malaysian source that they checked the Web sites. They scour the Web sites that the two men had visited, pilot and co-pilot visited, and also found nothing in any of that -- in any of that data that raises suspicion.

David Gallo, how significant is this submarine? I mean, again, unless you know -- unless you have a debris field, unless you have a sense of where the plane went in the water, is the sub any good?

GALLO: Yes. Well, in the Air France 447 the French had a military submarine on scene as well. I think the principal task of that sub was to listen for the pingers and the black boxes, which it didn't here. I assume that's part of the role here because military subs don't go anywhere near as deep as the seafloor in this area. I mean, there's maybe one or two spots but it's too deep.

They don't normally carry the kinds of side scan that can scour the bottom but maybe this one has it. It would be classified probably if it did. So I guess it remains to be seen what the actual mission of the sub is.

The one advantage they have is they can stay there a long time and they can operate beneath the weather. So that's a great advantage.

COOPER: But they would not be involved -- I mean, one of the things that Kyung was saying about the sub is that they also look sometimes for surface ships, for nuclear ships on the surface during their regular duties.


COOPER: But they wouldn't be looking for debris.

GALLO: I think they could with their radar on the mast. But I'd be surprised that that's what they were doing. But maybe that's true, too. So I guess we have to --

COOPER: But again -- I mean, again, looking for the pinger, the clock is ticking on that.


COOPER: I mean, only for like a couple of days left if it was even working at full strength which we don't know about, and based on what you heard from an auditor who looked at the way Malaysian Airlines has stored some of their devices in the past. They haven't stored them under optimal conditions.

So a lot of questions remain about whether this thing is even out there pinging. So we don't -- we simply don't know.

We're going to have more from our panel. Follow us on Twitter @andersoncooper. Tweet us using #ac360 with your questions.

Up next, if any wreckage from the flight is found in the bottom of the ocean in the search area, we're talking about some incredibly deep water. Tens of thousands of feet. Take a look at fascinating technology behind how wreckage is salvaged from those kind of depths.

Also ahead tonight the search for the black boxes and what they could reveal if they're ever found. We're going to give you a live demonstration.

We're also just getting reports of an earthquake off Chile, said to be 8.0. That's the initial report. We're going to bring you more on that right after the break. We'll be right back.


COOPER: A sad breaking news we reported right before the break. A magnitude 8.7 -- 8.0, I should say, earthquake has hit near the northern coast of Chile according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A tsunami warning is now in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, and a tsunami watch for Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica.

Now it's not known for a fact that a tsunami was generated. Just an earthquake that size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami.

We're obviously watching it very closely. We should get some accurate data from buoys in the water to get a sense of whether there is an effect in the ocean. We'll obviously bring you all the information we have when we have it.

The search has resumed in the Indian Ocean for any sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We got the word just a short time ago that the search area is being shifted east, although shifting is perhaps an undramatic way of saying it. But it's basically moved, it's another search area.

We heard from Australian officials today about what an inexact science the search is with so many unknowns. So far there's been no wreckage at all pulled from the water, just garbage essentially, sea junk.

What if they do find something and it's at the bottom of the ocean? Part of the Indian Ocean where the search has been focused has depths from 6,000 to 7,000 feet right near by the water more than 20,000 feet deep. To put that in perspective, Mount Everest is 29,000 feet. So the question is, how is wreckage pulled from the bottom of the ocean. The technology is extraordinary.

Here's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what it looks like trying to recover an airplane in the ocean. You're watching a U.S. Navy salvage team gather pieces of TWA Flight 800 which went down off New York in 1996. Here divers are maneuvering among pieces of the twisted wreckage.

RET. CAPT. CHIP MCCORD, FORMER U.S. NAVY SUPERVISOR OF SALVAGE: The U.S. Navy actually has recovered an intact helicopter from about 17,000 feet. So they have the capability. They've done this before.

KAYE: Retired Navy Captain Chip McCord has been involved in at least 50 ocean salvage operations, including TWA 800 and Swiss Air Flight 111, which crashed in 1998 off the coast of Nova Scotia. Those were both in water much shallower than the Indian Ocean. But the Navy has remote underwater vehicles designed for deepwater salvage operations. They can go as deep as 20,000 feet, but the deeper the recovery the slower the process.

MCCORD: It takes about a -- an hour for every 1,000 feet that you need to descend. So if you're going to 11,000 feet you can count on 11 hours to get down.

KAYE: At those depths, it's pitch black. So the underwater vehicles are equipped with lights and cameras. They're also outfitted with sonar to scout for debris. They are steered by two operators on board the ship above who use instant feedback from the salvage vehicle's cameras to direct the robotic arms.

MCCORD: They can hover, they can move left, right, forward and aft and go to where they need very carefully hover over a piece and pick it up if they need to.

KAYE: Remember Air France Flight 447 which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009? Two years later an unmanned underwater vehicle found the debris field for that flight 13,000 feet beneath the ocean's surface. The engines were pulled from the ocean floor. If Flight 370 is found, search teams are prepared to do the same.

MCCORD: If it's small like the black boxes you can put a little basket on the ROV and the arms from the ROV can pick it up and put it in the basket.

KAYE: But the remote underwater vehicles can only carry about 4,000 pounds. So anything heavier like a large piece of the fuselage will have to be attached to a cable and pulled to the surface by a crane on the ship.

(On camera): Keep in mind this could be happening miles below the surface, an incredibly difficult task. Still, no doubt salvage teams will keep their eyes peeled for the black box, hoping to get some much-needed answers first.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Fascinating technology. Joining me once again is David Gallo. Also with us Sylvain Pascaud who is a technical adviser in the investigation of the Air France Flight 447 crash.

Sylvain, it's one thing to look at the technology as we did in that piece. But I'm also fascinated, I mean, this is essentially a human operation. And it's the person -- I mean, it's human effort being exerted out on the sea.

What is it like to be out there? What is it like to try to constantly be searching, to constantly not have enough information? It's got to be so difficult.

SYLVAIN PASCAUD, TECHNICAL ADVISOR FOR AIR FRANCE 447 INVESTIGATION: Finding the information was crucial. I mean, when we were out there the first time it was just like -- it took us a long time just to figure out what was happening. Because it was a total mystery. And, -- so --

COOPER: Was it the debris that started to really give you the first -- I mean, I know you were getting -- you had gotten some data from the plane itself before it went down. But was it finding those pieces of debris on the four or five days into it?

PASCAUD: Yes. We had three pieces of information. We had the last known position of the aircraft. We had the debris field six days afterwards. And we knew that the airplane had a problem because the maintenance messages were sent out. So we were in a better position than the people that are searching for the Malaysian Air.

COOPER: There's just not enough data points right now.

PASCAUD: It's all about data. And just understanding the right data. I mean, we had -- in the beginning on the Air France flight we had too much information and not the right information. And it's just a matter of understanding which information you need.

COOPER: And David, as we've talked about, I mean, until you find a debris field, until you know where the plane entered the water, all this underwater equipment is basically for --


COOPER: I mean, it's not useless but it's not to be utilized.

GALLO: Yes. And you don't want to burn out -- I mean, it's not like there's a lot of teams that can go out there and do this kind of work. So the human power behind the effort is very limited. So you don't want to burn out. And it's also difficult to move around. You've got to have the right ship, you've got to mobilize on that ship, you've got to air ship or eight or 10 ships go about 10 or 12 miles an hour across the surface of the ocean. So it's slow going.

COOPER: And when you're -- I mean, how much of the Air France flight wreckage did you actually end up bringing up? Because once you get the black box boxes is that enough? Do you not need to bring up more of the wreckage?

PASCAUD: You need the black boxes. And then you know just for safety we would treat the engines afterwards in case, you know, there was something that needed to be done for the investigation. But the main thing was the black boxes. GALLO: Yes, one thing, Anderson, we're -- we've been working on lately is doing in situ forensic studies at depth. We do it for scientific reasons so we want to use these remotely operated vehicles with incredibly high precision navigation to do very accurate high definition still photography, video topography, and make a virtual site so that you can bring that site back to the investigators.

For us it's scientists. In this case it would be the accident investigation team. So before you actually pull things up, we'd have the ability right now to do that work in situ so you don't have to (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: I don't want to get too -- gruesome is the right word, but, I mean, there are families out there who are waiting obviously to hear what happened to their loved ones and would like to have their loved ones returns home, whatever, you know, that means. And for Air France, were you able -- I mean, is recovering people from the depths, is that part of it? Or are they -- I mean, are they left there?

GALLO: Well, you want to answer the Air France -- it's a difficult thing. You know, we get emotional. You try to be unemotional about it. But you can't help. You're just below the layer of the scientific or inquisition there's a very deep emotional layer. I have a hard time talking about it. But I can just say that whatever you want to recover from the depth you can do it if you have the will, yes, sure.

COOPER: The -- again, you had so many data points on Air France. And even then it took, you know, what, almost two years to --

GALLO: Six hundred days.

COOPER: Six hundred days. And I'm sure you were counting really each of those days. Do you see -- Miles O'Brien was saying he kind of is pessimistic that maybe anything will be found. Are you?

GALLO: No, you know, something that's been bothering me that, you know, one, I hear a lot of comparison with Air France, almost like it's a competition, which one's tougher. And then it's not meant to be a competition that way. And it didn't take -- it took two calendar years. But a lot of that was spent as Sylvain will attest haggling with trying to get back out there, getting permission to go back out. So all told I think we spent about six, I think?

PASCAUD: Four months at sea.

GALLO: Four months at sea.

PASCAUD: But it took a long time to analyze the data.

COOPER: Right.

PASCAUD: And the good information, the not so good information.

GALLO: Right. COOPER: So you don't want to burn out crews and stuff searching around needlessly. You want to get all your ducks in the row and then --


PASCAUD: Absolutely.

COOPER: Find these X spot.

GALLO: Yes. So -- but in this case it's just where do you begin? You know, without that last known position, without any shred of evidence that the plane's in the water at all, where in the world do you --

COOPER: But things like that, things like bureaucracy, getting permissions, all of that impacts an investigation.

GALLO: Sure.

COOPER: In retrospect looking back.


COOPER: And this is only multiplied given the number of countries involved, the number of foreign nationals involved.

GALLO: Yes. And totally understandable. We were talking earlier today about how unfortunate it is that we find ourself back in this situation just a few years after Air France. There needs to be a better system to deal with these things with a rapid response where people cooperate.

COOPER: Right.

GALLO: You know, and here we have the same kinds of issues about who's doing what and who's bringing what to the effort. And you know, it's frustrating. It really is.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Sylvain, I appreciate you being on the program. David Gallo as well.

Up next we've got some black boxes here actually to show you. We're going to get a demonstration of just how far the technology has come, whether it needs to get even better, can it get better.

Also ahead tonight, new information about the Boeing 777 that crashed last summer, Asiana Flight 214, and what the airline is now admitting about what happened.


COOPER: Magnitude 8.0 earthquake has hit near the northern coast of Chile according to the U.S. geological survey. A tsunami warning is now in effect for Chile, for Peru and Ecuador and a tsunami watch for Columbia, Panama and Costa Rica. Now it is not known for a fact that a tsunami was generated. I want to tell you that. Just that an earthquake that size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami. We're just getting video in from our affiliate CNN Chile.

There are evacuations said to be under way. You see people on the move there, moving away from structures, from areas that have been hit. Obviously, this is a cause of great concern throughout the region. We're going to bring you up to date as soon as we have more information. And as more pictures come in, we are of course going to bring them to you live.

As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues, the clock as I've said is ticking or pinging as the case may be to find those black boxes. The batteries are expected to expire in just a few days if in fact they're even working. There's been a lot of talk about whether black box technology is where it should be or if it's outdated. The technology has come a long way in just a matter of decades.

Back now with us is David Soucie with black boxes to show us and also back with us is Richard Quest. You have two of these. Explain what they are.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: These are the black boxes. We get a lot of questions about black boxes. What are they, where did they come from, why? In the 1960s is kind of when this started. Even earlier than that, but Australia had some bad accidents. This is to be thought of as an investigation tool to recreate or go back to what we had before.

I'm going to take this apart a little bit so we can see inside some of the fascinating technology for me. I'm kind of a techno geek. If you look inside of this, I don't know if we can see that well, but this particular one was used in the 60s and up until the 70s.

COOPER: Would this have been voice recording or data recording?

SOUCIE: This is data recording. We only keep track of four different things here, altitude, air speed, magnetic heading. There's only four things that we have on here. How it works, let me just kind of show you here. I'm going to take out this data recorder tape and what this is, is a piece of metal. So what we have here is this incanel piece of metal. This incanel is amazing steel made out of 1,000 different kinds of steel. Has titanium, basically everything in it. Those little needles I was showing you there, over time it goes about six inches a minute.

And what it does is it records all that kind of like a seismograph. It records all this in here. We can later afterwards, even if this entire box melted in a fire, this would survive. I have actually pulled these out before and taken them up to FBI or NTSB in Atlantic City. You can actually map this out and get real good information as to where the aircraft was.

COOPER: Do they still only record four pieces of data.

SOUCIE: No, not at all. They have two iterations since this. We can get rid of this. This next iteration they went to hard drive like a laptop hard drive it's going to have some problems when it hits the ground. These were used for a period of 10 or 12 years. After that they said we've got to have more parameters. Much more parameters. Now we've got like 92 I think, 94 parameters, including not just rudder position, but how quickly the rudder moved. And is the controller for the rudder making the input and then is the rudder following that input. You can imagine the amount of data we can get.

COOPER: They can survive any kind of --

SOUCIE: A 1,000 Gs is what they can survive. That's what they're supposed to be able to handle is 1,000 Gs.

COOPER: Do we know what a typical crash, how many Gs that would be?

SOUCIE: I can't think of one that would be more than 1,000 Gs necessarily.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It tends to be not the crash, particularly with the new digital ones. They certainly can withstand up to 17,000, 18,000 feet of water, the pressure that would be generated. Once these are gone, and we got to these, very rarely do you not get something. Cockpit recorder slightly different, but on the flight data recorder rarely do you not get something.

COOPER: Is there any length of time that -- is there a limit to the length of time they can be underwater in salt water at great pressure?

SOUCIE: No. If it's contained, if it hasn't opened up it can sit in there pretty much indefinitely. There's going to get some data off those devices. The thing I wanted to point out though is the next iteration streaming data.

COOPER: So there wouldn't be a need to search for these boxes.

SOUCIE: No. I think it's important they still are on board the aircraft. They still have that information in case you lose that connection.

COOPER: But that technology exists and it's just a question of cost?

SOUCIE: Absolutely it does.

QUEST: And it won't come about with a full data recorder sending everything that it currently does. It will be incremental I think, David. You'll start off with pretty much this only had four then went to this and this, you'll start ought with a certain number of parameters that will be streamed live. Then as satellite time becomes cheaper --

COOPER: I think a lot of people watching this will say, of course, this should already happen. If technology exists, if it's just a question of money for airline safety. If it's not just a question of money, you know, for airlines safety.

QUEST: There's satellite time, there's satellite band width. Thousands of planes in the air. There simply isn't the capacity to carry everything at the moment.

COOPER: Interesting.

SOUCIE: And just to continue real quickly, David Price, Congressman David Price in response to this accident, March 12th, introduced a new bill. He wants to reintroduce the safe act, which meant you're going to take these and eject them when the aircraft hits the ground. It's really frustrating to me that when something like that comes along we'll spend thousands and thousands of dollars to try to do this. It would cost less to skip this technology, let's move forward, move on to the next technology. This concerns me a little bit we're still stuck in this technology.

COOPER: All right, David Soucie, Richard Quest, thank you. Up next, breaking news on the magnitude 8.0 earthquake that has hit near the northern coast of Chile. Tsunami watches and warnings are in effect throughout the region. Some evacuations as you see. I'll speak with CNN Shasta Darlington next.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight, magnitude 8.2 earthquake has hit near the northern coast of Chile according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A tsunami warning is in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador and tsunami watch for Columbia, Panama and Costa Rica. Now the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reports that tsunami waves of about 6 feet were reported Tuesday night off the coast of Quisagwa, Chile.

CNN's Shasta Darlington joins me now on the phone from San Paulo, Brazil. With me also is also David Gallo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Shasta, what are you hearing? What's the latest?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Anderson, as you said this has really happened just a short while ago. So we're just getting the first indications of how powerful this could be. The first tsunami has hit the northern coast of Chile about 6 feet as you said. Obviously for some of the coastlines further away it can take much longer, even hours before we get any indication of whether or not there will be or how big those tsunamis will be.

They're already evacuating dozens of families. They've already ordered the evacuation of thousands of people in Northern Chile. We've seen pictures of dozens of them packing up their things. And fairly calmly, I must say, getting their things together and moving to higher ground. Chile, like so much of this region, is prone to earthquakes. They are accustomed to them.

And in one of the very big recent earthquakes, they didn't issue the tsunami warning early enough. This is important for them to get this warning out there and get people to higher ground. So that's really the emphasis right now. And I think that's what we'll be seeing in the next few minutes and hours.

COOPER: Right. We're watching the images as we're seeing them, people basically evacuating, trying to move to higher ground in coastal areas. I'm told they just extended the watches now, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

David Gallo, this hit about 62 miles off the coast we're told of Chile at a depth of about 6.2 miles in the ocean. Explain what happens in the case like this.

DAVID GALLO, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPIC INSTITUTION: It's a very powerful quake. I mean, most earthquakes on the planet happen where the plates of the earth come together. The smallest earthquakes when plates pull apart. When they come together like off the coast of Chile, you can generate very powerful earthquakes and that's what is happening here. It's a place that's no stranger to earthquakes. I believe deadly tsunamis have been generated from that region in the past as well.

COOPER: So we heard of this report of six-foot wave. How quickly should we know -- will people there more importantly know about whether or not there is a significant tsunami?

GALLO: Well, obviously a direct observation on shore of waves coming ashore. There are a series of buoys, Pacific tsunami warning system. That wave is going across the ocean at about the same speed a jet travels, too, about 500 miles an hour.

COOPER: At 500 miles an hour.

GALLO: Yes, very fast. It's an impulse that moves very quickly. In fact at sea you would never really see it at sea.

COOPER: That's generate bide these plates.

GALLO: It's just almost like you've got to have just the right kind of plate motion. Remember the Indonesian tsunami. This is the same kind of situation where you've got a plate going under another plate and generating that kind of impulse.

COOPER: Why do here the plates go underneath one another as opposed to pull apart?

GALLO: The offshore of South America there's a big plate of the earth called the Nasca plate. Part of the Pacific Ocean floor. It's one of the most active plates on earth. It moves very quickly. So basically all the mountains along the west coast of South America, Central America, are generated with all those volcanic mountains by these plates going under one another creating --

COOPER: Shasta Darlington, again, we're looking at the range of countries now which have watches or warnings in effect. Panama, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, which is the earthquake took place that we understand some six miles under the sea, about 62 or so miles off the coast where the earthquake took place toward Northern Chile.

Shasta Darlington, again, the images that we're seeing, it looks very orderly where the cameras are located in terms of people moving out. Obviously there's a lot of concern about people. It seems relatively orderly. Families moving out, not taking a lot of possessions, taking what they can carry and trying to get to hire ground.

As David Gallo was saying, this could be a very fast-moving wave if indeed there is some sort of a wave beyond the six-foot one that's already been spotted. Do you have any idea at this point how many people we're talking about in terms of in this evacuation zone that are being encouraged to leave the coastal areas?

DARLINGTON: Well, they're actually talking about a pretty wide area. Keep in mind, further south in Santiago people are telling us they didn't even feel it. Really the authorities are being extremely cautious and with good reason. This is very prone to earthquakes, to tsunamis. So they are being overly cautious and they're ordering evacuations along the coast and yet there are cities that didn't even feel it.

We're going to see a lot of reaction along the southern coast of Peru as well because the epicenter was close to Ifiki, this mining town in Northern Chile closer to many areas in Peru than it is to Southern Chile. We're going to just see these reactions along that whole coastal area with people getting prepared for the worst. And of course all of us hoping that never comes to take place -- Anderson.

COOPER: Shasta, appreciate your reporting. We'll continue checking with you throughout the evening. David Gallo as well for your expertise.

Just ahead, more breaking news, the death toll in the Washington landslide is rising. We'll take you inside the search zone. We'll get our first look up close today what searchers are going through. It is a difficult, grim task for them.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight, in Oso, Washington, the death toll from that devastating landslide has climbed to 28. Authorities have released the names of 22 victims far, the youngest just 4-months old. Tonight 22 people are still missing. Finding anything in the debris field is incredibly difficult work, covers 640 acres, in some places the mud is 70 feet deep. Close to 600 people assisted by cadaver dogs are combing the area, trudging through the muck.

Today Ana Cabrera got a first-hand look what they are up against. Here's her report.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is ground zero of the Washington landslide. Our first look at the destruction up close.

(on camera): All of this debris was once over the roadway. This all used to be homes.

(voice-over): Debris piled up to 80 feet high in some spots. Tires, twisted cables, large appliances and uprooted trees, the only decipherable objects in the mangled mess. The images don't fully capture the devastation. This neighborhood was mutilated by the enormous force and power of land and water that ripped through this valley.

LT. RICHARD BURKE: We do have family members out here today with us. Our family's just gotten bigger. We've kind of adopted the town of Oso, maybe they've adopted us.

CABRERA: A week and a half after the disaster the driving force remains finding victims. Nearly two dozen people are still missing.

(on camera): Would you be able to find all the victims?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to try.

CABRERA (voice-over): It's slow methodical work with big risks.

(on camera): The debris field is full of a toxic sludge, a combination of human waste, chemicals from households as well as propane tanks, oil and gas making the search effort extremely dangerous.

(voice-over): Every person, animal and thing that comes out of here has to be decontaminated. Workers are forced to wait for some areas to dry out before investigating. Pumps have helped to clear some of the water where search dogs have picked up human scent. Sunshine today gave search teams the upper hand in what's inevitably a recovery mission.

(on camera): All of this heavy equipment is helping to clear the debris off the road to provide more access for rescuers. But the debris is staying put until hand crews can come and go through these piles to pull belongings for family members who lost everything.

(voice-over): Two American flags fly among the men and women working here. One, recovered from the debris, hangs in reference for lives lost. Another flag at half-staff on a lone tree left standing in the slide zone. A source of strength and a symbol of hope for better days ahead. Ana Cabrera, CNN, Arlington, Washington.


COOPER: So much loss. Up next, more on the breaking news out of Chile. Magnitude 8.2 earthquake that has hit near the northern coast, a tsunami watches and warnings in effect throughout the region. The latest ahead.


ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Recapping our breaking news tonight, magnitude 8.2 earthquake hitting near the Northern Coast of Chile, tsunami watches and warnings in effect evacuations underway. The pacific tsunami warning center reporting the tsunami waves of more than six feet were reported off the coast of Pisagua, Chile. f This is a YouTube video from Northern Chile about 300 miles south where the earthquake hit.


You can hear the tsunami sirens blaring. We're going to see you again at 11 p.m. eastern for another edition of 360. Make sure you set your DVR so you never miss 360.

Smerconish starts now.