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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS

Massive Earthquake Hits Chile; Interview With Australian Ambassador to United States Kim Beazley

Aired April 1, 2014 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report. I'm Don Lemon.

Big breaking news tonight: a massive 8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile. Alarms went off in Northern Chile after the earthquake, a tsunami warning now in effect for Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama, a tsunami watch in effect for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

There are reports of landslides and large waves, but so far, no serious injuries or deaths to report, at least right now. Seismologists in Chile have recorded at least four significant aftershocks measuring at least 5.0 in magnitude. There have been numerous quakes in the same area over the past few weeks. A magnitude-6.7 quake rattled Chile on March 16.

And more than 100,000 people were briefly evacuated from low-lying areas. The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile in 1960, the magnitude-9.5 tremor that killed more than 5,000 people. We're covering this story from every angle for you tonight.

And I'm joined now by CNN's Shasta Darlington on the phone from Brazil. CNN's Chad Myers in the Weather Center. And oceanographer Greg Stone joins us as well.

Shasta, I want to start with you. What is the situation at this hour where you are?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, what we're seeing across Chile, across the coast is evacuations. In fact, some of the -- some tsunamis of about two meters or six feet have already washed ashore in Northern Chile.

So we're seeing hundreds, thousands of people moving to higher ground. So far, what we have seen is, it's been in a fairly orderly fashion. There hasn't been panic. In fact, the deputy secretary of the interior said the biggest problem so far has really been traffic jams with all these people trying to locate in safer areas.

What he also said is that there has not been any reported deaths, because there have so far no been reports of major damage to infrastructure. Again, we don't have information about all of the areas. The epicenter was off the coast of the mining town of Iquique, so we expect to get more details about that area. Some of the roads are blocked by landslides.

So we know we don't have a complete picture yet. But, at this point, it looks like it's a fairly contained, mostly evacuations and these initial tsunamis, Don.

LEMON: And, Shasta, you are in South America right now. Talk to us more about the 8.2-magnitude quake that's off of Chile's coast.

DARLINGTON: Well, you said it. This is an area that is prone to earthquakes. Chile has seen the strongest earthquake. It's seen some of the deadliest.

Just four years ago, 500 people were killed in an 8.8 quake. And it was also at that point that they were a bit slow to order the evacuations for tsunamis, which is why they're being so proactive this time around. They have ordered the entire coast evacuated. But this is an extremely long country, even though in the capital, Santiago, for example, they didn't even feel it.

But they want to make sure that they're airing on the side of caution. They don't want to have the kind of fatalities that they saw just four years ago. This is also being felt in Southern Peru and in Ecuador. So, they're really making sure to get people out of harm's way as fast as they can, Don.

LEMON: All right, Shasta, stand by.

We will go to CNN's Chad Myers now.

Chad, this earthquake seems bigger than most. What are you hearing, especially if it has the possibility of sparking a tsunami?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The tsunami is the biggest problem.

Honestly, this is not a shaking issue. The yellow that we see here all across Chile is a strong shake. But that's equal to the same shake that the people felt in California from the 5.1 just a couple days ago, because the 5.1 was right under them.

This earthquake is offshore, at least enough to make the quaking under the water. But isn't that the problem, Don? Because the quaking under the water is the tsunami issue. So, let's get right to it. There's the quake, there's Iquique. And Iquique had a 6.9-foot now tsunami wave. That's not too bad, because when you think about this land trajectory here, it goes up very, very quickly.

Let's zoom in to this quake right through here. There's the quake itself. The big orange circle, that's where the quake was, but it was underground. The underground quake is actually a movement of the land itself. It comes in, and then it pops up. When the land pops up, it pushes water with it.

So it's that popping up of the land on the bottom of the sea floor that pushes water into the sky, maybe three to five feet. And then it, all of a sudden, it has to move somewhere. And it moves to Iquique. And the problem with Iquique is that there is the basin right through here and another one right through here, almost like a catcher's mitt.

And that water slid right into here. This is where the biggest of the waves would have been. I'm going to take you a little bit father to the north of Iquique, where it's literally -- it's a desolate, barren place. Because of how sharp the topography is north of Iquique, it rises in elevation 1,000 feet rather quickly. So people don't live here.

This is where the worst of the tsunami would have been, and that's how strong the coast goes up so sharp. That's why people literally don't live very close to that land. But what we do know, Don, is that this -- this is a dart buoy. It's called a dart buoy because it sits on the bottom of the ocean.

If it feels the weight of the water going up, even a millimeter, it can measure it. And it measured about a -- it's almost maybe a third- of-a-meter rise right through there. And this is the wave that's going across the ocean, over and over and over, down maybe through here as well or up through here.

North America is not really at any risk at this point. But what we're still watching whether they're going to issue any watch or warning for Hawaii at all. Right now, there's nothing of the sort. But we will have to watch whether this wave continues across the ocean -- Don.

LEMON: Chad, I saw you're having some issues there with the earpiece. You took it out. It's back in. Can you hear me?

MYERS: I can.

LEMON: You can. OK.

So, these earthquakes, are they connected to the recent quakes in Los Angeles?

MYERS: Oh, absolutely not.

A major quake can make other quakes. So, if I see a 6 or 7 somewhere else along this fault line or something like that, either an aftershock or something else, when the earth moves, it can move other places. But a 5.1 in California, I don't believe would make any stress in Chile at all.

LEMON: All right, Chad Myers, thank you very much in the CNN Weather Center.

I want to go now to Dr. Greg Stone. Greg Stone is a Marine biologist.

Greg Stone, how are tsunamis generated?

DR. GREG STONE, MARINE BIOLOGIST: Tsunamis are generated by fundamentally different processes than normal, like surfing waves. And this is really important to understand.

A surfing wave or most waves that you sea at the beach are generated by wind. The higher the wind, the bigger the waves. But a tsunami is generated by displacement coming up from the sea floor. And actually the displacement isn't all that much, but the key is that it happens over many hundreds or many thousands of square kilometers.

So suddenly you have got water that's gone up a little bit in the ocean and it's got to go somewhere. And when it -- it can pass under your boat if you're out in the open ocean, and you won't even feel it, but it's big, long-period wave. But once that wave hits the shore and it starts to shows up, you have got basically a meter of water that extends back 100 miles.

And that meter of water suddenly piles up on the shore. It has to go somewhere. That's when you see the pictures of tsunamis, they don't look like a wave as much as they look like a river that sort of comes in on the coastline.

LEMON: Right.

STONE: And that's the fundamental difference.

LEMON: I want to ask you this, Dr. Greg Stone. Do you agree with Chad's assessment that it's not connected to the recent quakes in California? We have been seeing a lot of them lately. It feels that way.

STONE: Well, I think that my answer to that would be I don't know.

There's the Ring of Fire, which is this series of plate boundaries which run along the coast of Chile, and then it runs right up through California. And the whole Earth is one contiguous system, so I -- I think the jury is probably still out on how these are connected.

LEMON: All right, Shasta, Chad, Dr. Greg Stone, Shasta and Chad, I want you all to stick around, Dr. Greg Stone as well. You're going to be back a little bit later on in the show.

Now I want to get to the search of Flight 370. We have some breaking news to tell you about here as well. The search area shifts eastward towards Australia, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will be -- will land in Perth in a matter of hours.

The pressure is mounting to find any sort of shred of evidence.

I want to go right now to CNN's correspondents for the very latest developments.

Atika Shubert is in Perth for us, and Nic Robertson is in Kuala Lumpur.

I want to start with you, Atika, in Perth. New search area that moves slightly east. How is the search effort going at this hour?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have got about 10 planes up in the air today.

The first of them should be reaching the search area now. And it's expected to be fairly good weather. So they're going to try and search as much as possible, which will mean a late arrival for a lot of those planes. But so far, there have been no reported sightings of any potential debris. There were no significant findings yesterday either.

So it's disappointing for a lot of the search teams, but this is a how a lot of search and recovery goes. So, they're just going to have to keep scouring the area, see if they can keep spot anything, and then let the ships know, so they can haul it in.

LEMON: I want to go Nic Robertson now.

Nic, families of Flight 370 will be meeting in private with tech experts in just a couple of hours. What do you know about this meeting?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I know that journalists will not get a look-in, Don.

Already, we understand that they're being kept a long way away from where the meeting is taking place. The families are hoping to get questions answered, questions they came here from Beijing to get answered. We're told that the experts that they will be able to see wouldn't have been available to them in Beijing.

We're told that they will be seeing high-level experts, people who will explain to them the methodology that they have been using to gather data, the data they have been gathering, the analysis that they have been providing, they have been putting on this data to try and get closer to figuring out exactly what happened to this aircraft.

Now, will these answers satisfy the families? Again, that's something we may not find out, because in the last day or so, these families do seem to have indicated to us they don't want to talk to the media as much as they did before. That kind of implies that they are getting some help, getting some way to getting these questions answered.

But it's closed doors, so it's really not clear precisely what they're going to learn and then what we may learn as a ripple effect on from that, Don.

LEMON: All right, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Atika, we appreciate it, Nic Robertson as well.

I want to bring in now CNN's Richard Quest.

Richard Quest, the Malaysian authorities made it very clear that they believe the airliner's movement reflect a deliberate action. What do you make of that, but still no clear evidence of that, especially in the recordings?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No evidence in the recordings, but the nature of the turns, the nature of the actions leads them, and the radar data that they have looked at, does definitely say -- and the way they said that, just referring to what they said today, it was really interesting, Don, because when they gave us the transcript today, out of nowhere, in the last paragraph of the statement, they just simply said, it remains the opinion that the MH370's movements were consistent with deliberate actions by someone on the plane.

They didn't have to add that paragraph in. They could have just released the transcript. So I think -- those I speak to say they're clearly telegraphing something to us. Whether it's criminal, whether it's deliberate, they are saying something by just putting that in once again.

LEMON: And the Malaysian prime minister heading to Perth today, will arrive in Perth today, what is the significance of that?

QUEST: Several-fold, First of all, to thank obviously the Australians.

He will be meeting Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott has just been speaking, by the way, on morning radio in Perth, the Australian prime minister reaffirming the intention to keep this search going, and the understanding of the importance for the families involved to have closure.

LEMON: All right, Richard, stick with me here.

QUEST: Yes.

LEMON: Because I want to bring in now Geoffrey Thomas. He is the editor in chief and managing director of AirlineRatings.com. He joins us now from Perth.

The same question to you, Geoffrey. The Malaysian prime minister arriving in Perth later today, what's the significance?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Good morning, Don. Good evening, Don, I should say.

Look, indeed, there is significance here, absolutely. But it's more confirmation, if you like, that we are looking in the right area, with the Malaysian prime minister coming down. We have also had of course the setting up of the joint communications center here in Perth. And we also have more assets arriving as well, more aircraft, more ships.

This all adds to the momentum that -- of the search and also confirmation that we are looking in the right spot.

LEMON: Australia is sending an air traffic control plane into the area today to make sure that there are no accidents, Geoffrey?

THOMAS: Yes, indeed. The Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force has flown in, in fact, three Wedgetail aircraft. This is the Boeing 737 with the radar capabilities.

It's usually used as a spy plane, like your AWACS aircraft. And, yes, this is going to be a communications center and an air traffic control center to ensure that separation is maintained between all the airplanes that are out there in the search area.

LEMON: All right, Geoffrey, please stay with me, Richard as well. We will be following other breaking news tonight, the story of the large waves being reported after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile, tsunami watches and warnings now in effect for huge swathes of South and Central America. We will have more throughout the hour on this.

And when we come right back, more on missing Flight 370. The Australians have taken charge of this search, but warned that it could go on for weeks, if not months. We are going to be joined by the Australian ambassador to the United States, and I'm going to ask him if there is a plan B if no wreckage is found.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news tonight on CNN: an 8.2-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile, a tsunami warning now in effect for Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama, a tsunami watch in effect for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. And now we're hearing about significant aftershocks that are going on. We will get an update on that throughout this broadcast.

I want to turn back now to the breaking news on the hunt for Flight 370. The search area has shifted east. The planned search area for today now 925 miles west of Perth, ships and plane from the United States and other nations working in supporting roles alongside the Australians in the search for the missing plane.

Joining me now is Ambassador Kim Beazley, the Australian ambassador to the United States.

Thank you for joining us, Ambassador.

I would like to get your reaction to the prime minister of Malaysia visiting Perth. Will this visit help, do you think, further the search efforts?

KIM BEAZLEY, AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: He accepted the invitation of the Australian prime minister to very much and visit with the people who are doing the search activities headquartered there in Australia.

And it will be an opportunity too for him to get a better understanding of our long-term intentions in this regard. He's a very good friend of Australia, and we are enormously close to him and close to Malaysia. We have a military alliance with Malaysia, as do the British and the Kiwis and the Singaporeans.

So we're very used to this collaboration. And he will be -- I think he will be enormously helpful. it will be enormously helpful to have him there with the people who are doing the job.

LEMON: We were watching on Sunday night, Monday morning in Australia, when Prime Minister Abbott came out and said, listen, he's not putting a time limit on this. He's going to take as long as he can to find something; the best minds are on it. How much pressure, though, does this -- does Australia feel to find this plane? Angus Houston said today that this could drag on for weeks, maybe even months, if there is no wreckage found.

BEAZLEY: Well, we finally found the HMAS Sydney after 60 years.

I think if you ask the Australian prime minister what our long-term intentions would be, he would say we will be searching for this aircraft until hell freezes over. And the character of the search may well change as time goes by, but the search will continue.

There are, as well as our own people aboard that plane, very good friends in the Chinese and the Malaysians, have an enormous stake in this, and deep sorrow amongst their people for what has happened. And you can't put a time or a even cost on what you would be prepared to do to try and find an answer.

LEMON: So I would imagine is the answer is -- I don't want to put words in your mouth -- is that you're feeling tremendous pressure, Australians are feeling tremendous pressure. And with that, do you feel that Australians are getting enough support from the U.S. and the rest of the world in this search?

BEAZLEY: This is a fantastic effort.

There are a huge number of countries involved in the search. There are a large number of aircraft now in the region. There will be more soon. There will be a submarine. There will be -- the Americans have given us some really excellent equipment, will be deployed. I think, if it's actually not being deployed now, it will be deployed very shortly to see if there's a chance of picking up a ping from it.

That AWACS aircraft that you referred to a big earlier, it's not actually a spy plane. It's a actually plane which vectors military activity from aircraft, and it's necessary to do that. Why? Because we have so many aircraft now operating in the area.

And when you add to that the helicopters that are on board the ships that are operating in the area, you do have the potential for difficulty emerging. So the -- this is the first time, I might say, operationally that we have deployed those AWACS aircraft. So there will be a very substantial learning experience for them. But there's a very substantial burden on them, because you wouldn't want this tragedy having another one added on it to.

LEMON: Ambassador, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

I want to bring out my panel of guests in now to join me on this. Geoffrey Thomas and Richard Quest are here with me, along with Jeff Wise, a CNN aviation analyst and contributor to Slate and author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger." Jim Tilmon is a CNN aviation expert, a retired American Airlines pilot and president of the Tilmon Group. Arthur Rosenberg is a pilot, engineer and an aviation attorney with Soberman and Rosenberg. And then Mary Schiavo is a former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation. She also is an attorney for victims of transportation accidents. Captain Tim Taylor is an autonomous underwater vehicles and robotics expert and the president of Tiburon Subsea Services.

Thank you all for joining us again tonight.

Malaysian authorities said that they are -- they have discussed these transcripts that are released from the cockpit, over 53 minutes of them, 2.5-pages long.

Richard Quest read to me something earlier. And I want you to read to me what jumps out to you now.

QUEST: OK. Let's go through how this would be written on...

LEMON: And have Arthur Rosenberg respond.

QUEST: Yes. Arthur, are you there? You can hear me, Arthur?

ARTHUR ROSENBERG, AVIATION LAWYER: Absolutely.

QUEST: You're a pilot, Arthur.

I am going to give you the words. I'm going to be the air traffic controller. You are Malaysian 370. OK?

ROSENBERG: OK.

QUEST: We're in -- you're climbing, and I say, Malaysian 370, climb level flight level 370.

ROSENBERG: What time you at, Richard?

QUEST: I'm at 12:50.06.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But how would you respond to that?

QUEST: How would you respond as a pilot?

LEMON: Without looking at it, how would you respond to that?

QUEST: If I say, just as a -- purely as a pilot now, I say, Malaysian 370, climb flight level 350.

ROSENBERG: I would respond with the name of the plane, flight level 350, Malaysian 370.

QUEST: Which is spot-on to how exactly they do it.

But then you come further on to the end of the transcript. And air traffic control says, Malaysian -- and, Arthur, I need you to tell me how you would say, what is the correct way of saying it.

ROSENBERG: OK.

QUEST: And so I say, I'm air traffic control. I say Malaysia 370, contact Ho Chi Minh 120.9, good night. ROSENBERG: Now, I would say something like Malaysian 370 to Ho Chi Minh at 120.9, good night.

QUEST: But instead...

LEMON: He says, good night, Malaysian 370.

QUEST: In other words, a minor inaccuracy, but everybody is pinning quite a lot on this, because it's not...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But you don't -- do you pin anything on it?

QUEST: I pin nothing on it at all.

ROSENBERG: I do actually.

LEMON: Yes. Why is that?

ROSENBERG: I do.

Well, first of all, Richard likes to look at facts separately. You have to look at facts in context. If you look at the practice of this crew, they repeated back altitudes. They previously repeated back a frequency. And here, at 1:19, the last communication, we are into the accident sequence. Two minutes later, the transponder went off.

And at that point in time, he decides to change his pattern of communication, at precisely the moment of a handoff, which is the point, if you ever wanted to become invisible, that's when you're going to do it. I think the fact that he did not repeat the frequency or the center that he was going to be handed off to is reflective of the stress of the moment, that this plan, this change was already in progress.

LEMON: Can I ask you guys something? We're at 12:50:09, right, flight level 300 and he respond to that. And then at 1:01:14, it says, "Malaysian 370 maintaining level." Right? And then air traffic control contacts them. Right?

QUEST: No, what happens there is he says -- he basically confirms what altitude he's at, 350. He just gets an acknowledgement from air traffic control.

(CROSSTALK)

QUEST: And then six or seven minutes later, he says exactly the same thing again, "Malaysian 370 maintaining flight level 350."

Now, some people are interpreting this as being, why would you repeat that which you have already said six minutes ago?

LEMON: You read my mind.

QUEST: I can hear Arthur launching himself out of the seat even at this point.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: Again, I choose at the moment to think they just did it again.

LEMON: Why do you think, Arthur?

ROSENBERG: I think that the fact that he did not recite the center, he did not recite the frequency is significant. I think at this point in time, the sequence of events which led to the disappearance of this plane was already in progress.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon, what stands out to you about these transcripts? Do you think there's something odd about them not repeating as they had before in earlier communication?

JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I really didn't. I would have to try to dig into this because it's part of an investigation in order to come up with that.

The kind of phraseology they were using, I have used before. Others have. I have heard it in times in the dark of night. So it doesn't automatically jump out to me.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Would you repeat something six minutes later that you had already said before?

TILMON: It depends. That depends on what else was going on at that moment. I don't know what else he may have heard or what else that caused him to say that once again.

That's a puzzle. I don't have the answer for that.

LEMON: Mary Schiavo, if you were investigating this after the fact, would you put any credence or any importance on this communication?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, I would think -- I guess I would look at it first as a pilot and I say, well, he repeated his flight level. The pilots repeated it twice because they were expecting something from air traffic control.

And what they were expecting is the handoff. And they had to already previously ask air traffic control twice, because air traffic control had garbled transmissions, and had to say repeat, repeat, and then they gave them the flight level twice.

I think that they were waiting for them to give them the handoff to Ho Chi Minh. But it's odd. They are -- they seem to be exacting with their communications, that they don't repeat it. But I didn't read anything -- certainly nothing criminal into it. Something might have been starting to happen, and they might have been in a hurry, but there's nothing in there suggesting criminal activity.

LEMON: All right, everyone, stay with me. We are going to have two important updates, live breaking news for you, breaking news stories, the 8.2-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile, and a live update from the search zone on the hunt for Flight 370. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news here on CNN. An 8.0 magnitude earthquake sparking watches and warnings of a tsunami in Southern and Central America. We want to get back now to CNN's Chad Myers in the CNN weather center.

The first waves, Chad, are starting to hit the coast of Chile. Does this tsunami pose any threat to the U.S.?

MYERS: Don, for some reason, I lost you at the very last words. I'm going to start talking, assuming that you're done, and I'm just going to go. And then I won't be able to answer any questions. I've got a little bit of audio difficulty tonight.

But this is the 8.2, 8.0 earthquake, depending on who's measuring. And the reason why it's not as big of a deal as it could have been is because it was offshore. That means it's a tsunami threat, but it's not so much a shaking threat.

This is the yellow -- remember that color, yellow, all along the Chilean coast, including Iquique. That's where most of the shaking happened.

Now I'm going to take you to what we had here in America just three days ago. This is a great quake. We did not have a great quake in California. We were down here in moderate. But let me show you that same shake map for California. We had the same colors right here in Habra (ph), California, because it was right under that area of Los Angeles.

So this is the quake we saw. It's the same shaking as they saw down there, but you have to remember -- you have to assume, at least that the buildings in Los Angeles have been retrofitted, are built newer or a little bit better quality structure than what you might see down there, especially some of those older structures that we have down in Chile.

Here's the deal. Here's what happened. Here's why it's significant. This is a subduction zone. This is one plate here, another plate here, one going under the other. As you see a little bit of tension as they go under, go under, go under. One all of a sudden doesn't want to go under anymore; it wants to pops back up. And when it pops back up, that pushes the water above it a meter high, half a meter high. It doesn't matter how high it goes. But it's the meter push-up that you will see that wave. And that wave has hit here in Chile, probably all the way around the corner now. Waves don't like to go around corners.

Not going to go all the way to the other side of the world, but this is the bottom of the ocean we're seeing right here. This is that big groove. It's a big groove in the ocean, and that's where that pop was, and that pop pushed all the way here into Iquique. We know that was a 6-foot, 9-foot wave, Don.

LEMON: Chad Myers, thank you. Appreciate it. We're going to get back to that in just a moment, soon as we get more developments.

Now I want to get back to the search for Flight 370. It seems like every lead hits a dead end. But the search goes on.

I'm joined now by Squadron Leader Leon Fox of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, who flies aircraft in the search area for Flight 370.

I know that you're very busy. So we appreciate you joining us here on CNN, Squadron Leader Fox. You have been coordinating the crew flights for the New Zealand oreon -- Orion, I should say, P-3. How many flights have your crews been involved in, and have they found anything?

SQUADRON LEADER LEON FOX, ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE (via phone): We've seen multiple things in the area, so for us a few weeks now. Mainly it's been the stuff that's been highlighted, the rubbish and fishing nets, et cetera. We've been involved inside Malaysia, so we've been started up there from day three until now.

LEMON: This is day 24 for you. your first crew maxed out there at 150 hours, and you're on the second crew now. Are they getting tired?

FOX: Not a bit.

LEMON: Are they disappointed at all? Go ahead.

FOX: That's great. It's day 24 for us. We swapped out a crew about five days ago. They're not disappointed. They're going to keep going. This is what we train for.

So we're finding that there is stuff in the area. And it's also discounting areas that I think the Australians need to update. We'll try and find something else.

LEMON: How much territory have you covered? And do you have a feeling that the search area will shift even again?

FOX: I'm not sure on that. We've covered a lot of territory, so we're covering, just New Zealand P-3, approximately 1,600 square nautical miles every day. And that's just one of the 10 aircraft that are up there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) answer with the information that is coming in from Malaysia and other sources.

LEMON: Squadron Leader Fox, thank you for joining us. Best of luck out there. We appreciate you.

I want to get back now to my panel. Jeff Wise, let's talk about this. Last time, when I spoke with another leader out there, a member of the military out there, sounded a bit tired to me. That was my assessment by phone. Squadron Leader Fox is saying, hey, this is what we're trained for, but how much -- you know, how much can you go on and not find anything and then -- you know, without being disappointed?

WISE: Yes, I mean, it's just an endless task. The search area, again, is based on certain assumptions about the aircraft's fuel capacity, what altitude it might have been flying at, ultimately what speed it was going.

And these are just assumptions. And unless they have some other information that they haven't released to us, for instance, Australia is known to have very powerful radars that perhaps might have picked something up, which might have shaped their predisposition to search one area over the other.

But at the end of the day, all they can do is go out and look. And there's a vast area of ocean. All this stuff is moving around. And the longer that we go without finding anything, the lower the probability is that we will find something.

LEMON: I think it's interesting, Tim Taylor, I mean, there's so much apparatus in the air that they're bringing an air traffic control plane out there. And I wonder what's going on under the water. They're bringing in submarines and what have you. Is there -- is there a control for that sort of thing?

TAYLOR: Underwater, the submarines, if there's only one submarine, I'm sure there's not a bunch of control.

LEMON: But there are also submersibles, and there are also -- there are other boats and assets out on the water.

TAYLOR: The submersible's out watching. When they're launched, they have pingers on them, just like your black box. So they have an acoustic signal and they ping out for other reasons.

If a military submarine is on location, they are there to listen. They can -- the unclassified depths of a U.S. submarine is about 2,400 feet. I think Russia has built a titanium-hulled submarine that can get to about 4,000 feet.

So even if that's unclassified, and they go a little bit deeper than that, they're not going to be able to make the bottom and be able to search with any type of sonar. So what they're there for is to listen passively. And that's what they're good at, because that's how they operate. They listen for all sorts of things militarily. And if they're there on location, it's a last-ditch effort to get that black box and listen for it.

LEMON: All right. Stand by, everyone. Coming up, the clock is ticking to find the black box before the battery dies. But what happens after that? Little is known about the ocean floor, but that is where the search is headed now. And that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: We are rapidly approaching the end for the battery's inside the black box of Flight 370. And that will make the search even more difficult.

I'm back now with my panel of experts.

So Tim, I want to talk to you about this, because we talked about making sure the guys in the water are safe and who watches them, and we're talking about submarines, as well.

So I have a question here from our viewer. This is from Richard. And he says, "Isn't there a submarine in the area that can look underwater?" Now we know that the British submarine HMS Tireless has joined the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and has advanced underwater search capabilities. But with an area so immense, will this even be effective, Tim?

TAYLOR: You know, they're working with the same type of equipment that the underwater AUV is working with. If they have underwater search capabilities, it's sonar. Sonar has to get to the bottom to look.

They may be able to listen, like I said earlier, but getting to the bottom and getting the sonar out there, you're going to have to get within, you know, 100 meters of the bottom or less, you know. Thirty meters from the bottom is best. So I don't see that happening, unless it's some super-classified piece of gear that we're extremely unfamiliar with, they just don't build subs to go to 10,000, 13,000 feet.

LEMON: Mr. Quest, I know that your expertise is in the air. Do you think that a submarine has a better chance of finding this wreckage?

QUEST: Not at this particular point. Your experts are basically saying that it's in the water. It's there already; it's going to be listening. But ultimately, finding debris on the surface of the water still has to be the No. 1 goal so that you can bring the other assets in to actually search.

LEMON: And you want those recorders. Right?

Mary, Australia is sending a modified 737 to search the area to act as flying air traffic control, we talked about, to prevent a mid- air collision among the searchers. I wonder if this is typical. And even for the people who are out on the water, that is looking, that someone should be looking after them, as well.

SCHIAVO: That's right. And they use these kinds of planes in military exercises, where we have off-shore military exercises where lots of different branches of services have to coordinate and make sure that everyone is safe while they're doing those exercises.

I just think it makes a tremendous amount of sense, because for example, in the United States every -- almost every year, the Coast Guard loses someone on a rescue mission. But then, they go out in just impossible conditions.

So I think it's wise, good sense.

LEMON: Tim, let's talk about the Australian ship, Ocean Shield with the U.S. pinger detector on board. Still a few days away from the search area. We saw it going out over the weekend. You and I were live when it started to go out.

The pinger batteries could run out at any moment, if they haven't already. Too little too late?

TAYLOR: You know, we've got to hold out hope. Because if you don't have hope, it's despair. So get it out there, get it on the water.

I was speaking to David Soucie. He thinks maybe get it out in the deep canyons and work first. Give credit to Dave, that would be a good idea, if we were running the operation to focus on the areas where you're not going to be able to get an AUV down there and rule them out, potentially. You know, the pinger may have already stopped. It could be like the Air France flight, where even if you go over it now, you may not be getting anything. I don't know.

LEMON: Jeff, this is from Brian. Brian says, "If the plane is now believed to be closer to Australia, how come their radar did not pick up where it went down?

WISE: That's a great question. This is like state of the art radar that can supposedly see for 3,000 miles. If they didn't see it, it raises the question, if they had so much confidence in the first search area then switched it, it applies that it didn't show up on the radar. So either the radar is not working or the plane is not there.

LEMON: You have said that you believe that the only real evidence is the Inmarsat data and data ping. And that's the only real clue. Can we trust this map?

WISE: Well, it's not really a question of trusting the math. The map could be rock solid, but you know, it's all dependent on the assumptions that you feed into it. And we don't know, really, what assumptions are feeding into it. We don't really know what model they've got.

I think one of the things that's really interesting that's been developing in the last couple days is that there's a lot of people online, people with a lot of technical savvy and mathematical expertise who are trying to reverse engineer the data that's been released by Inmarsat and the Malaysian government to try to figure out what those assumptions are, to figure out that mathematical model that they've got to try to reverse engineer that data so that we can, as -- as sort of to crowd-source these developments of these models to try to figure out, you know, as the public can look at and try to figure out where this plane might have gone.

LEMON: All right. Stand by, everyone. We're going to get to our other breaking news: a tsunami warning after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile.

And later, we're going to talk more about the assets in the water and get my final thoughts from my guests on where they think this investigation should be and where it will lead to, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back to our breaking news here. The U.S. Geological Survey reports at least nine significant aftershocks. Nine significant aftershocks. A tsunami warning is in effect for Chile and Peru.

And I need to tell you that there was a tsunami warning in effect for Ecuador. That has been canceled. Also the watches. The watch that was in effect for Colombia and Panama and also Costa Rica been canceled, as well.

But all of this after an 8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile. Nearly seven-foot waves have been reported in Iquique, Chile. Iquique, Chile. And the Chilean authorities asked people along the coast to evacuate.

We'll continue to follow this breaking news as soon as we get more developments.

So back now to Flight 370. The moment they find a floating piece of wreckage from Flight 370, the focus of the search will shift to the ocean floor. But we may know more about the surface of Mars than we do about deep sea.

So joining me now is Greg Stone. He's the chief scientist at Conservation International.

Thank you for joining us. Listen, it was appropriate that we have you on this show tonight, considering what -- you know, what happened in Chile. So thank you for that.

Now let's move on...

STONE: Sure.

LEMON: ... and describe the ocean floor where they're going to be searching for Flight 370.

STONE: Well, there -- you know, the average depth of the oceans throughout our planet -- and remember, most of our planet is ocean -- is about 12,000 to 15,000 feet. And the depth of the water around this search site is mostly in the 10,000-foot range, though there's a trench that drops down to about 18,000 feet.

LEMON: OK. So when you said we know more about possibly the surface of Mars than we do about the ocean, why is that?

STONE: Well, it's simply because we haven't invested the resources in studying the oceans like we've invested resources in studying the surface of other planets. We've only actually explored about 3 to 5 percent of our oceans. The rest of it remains unexplored.

And we don't have detailed maps of the sea floor. We've -- it takes a lot of -- it takes a lot of work. Remember, the ocean is opaque. You can't see through it, so you need other instruments. You've got to be able to get down there. But believe it or not, there's actually more mountains in the ocean than there are on land.

LEMON: Absolutely.

STONE: And they're towering mountains, gigantic mountain ranges down there.

LEMON: Well, that's appropriate for my next question. How could the terrain impact searching for debris? If the mountains are higher, I would imagine that makes things a lot more complicated.

STONE: Well, you know, in this -- it does. In general, in the ocean when you've got rugged terrain, mountains, ridges, debris or acoustic signals, this black box transmits high-frequency acoustic signals, so it doesn't travel that far.

And it would be like if you're out in the middle of a field, you know, yelling across the field to somebody, they'd hear it pretty clearly. But if you're yelling from the other side of a ridge, you're not going to be able to hear them. So you're going to have the same kind of obstructions on the sea floor.

But in this area, this new area, I was looking at the charts before I came on the show. It's mostly pretty flat. We call these abyssal muds. And they're very thick siliceous muds, made of silicone mostly, that -- but then there is a trench drop-off sort of towards the southern end of it. So it really depends on, if it's even in this area, which part of the area.

LEMON: Very interesting. All right. Dr. Greg Stone, we appreciate it.

We have a bit of breaking news here. Richard Quest got the information, both of us here. And this is according to "The Wall Street Journal." They're reporting what, Richard?

QUEST: "The Wall Street Journal" is now reporting from the Malaysian police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar -- and this is really significant, because we have a name. No more of these unnamed sources.

LEMON: Right.

QUEST: According to the "Journal," according to the "Journal," the Malaysian police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, says that the Flight 370 investigation is classified as a criminal investigation. It means they'll interview more people from Fight 370.

LEMON: I want to get to -- just to get some information about this and some analysis. Arthur Rosenberg, what do you make of this? ROSENBERG: Yes. Well, from the get-go on this thing, I always felt that there was human intervention. I think now they've eliminated a lot of things, some things maybe we haven't heard about. The information hasn't all been released.

I think also by characterizing this as a criminal investigation shrouds everything in a little bit of secrecy. It's under the umbrella of a crime. They don't have to release information.

But yes, I think criminal, deliberate, intentional, I think it's all part and parcel of the same thing.

LEMON: Richard.

QUEST: Actually, on Arthur's point, the "Journal" and the police chief says, it may affect prosecution later if investigation findings revealed now, and if you looked this morning when they released the transcript, one of the reasons they say they've delayed releasing the transcript of air traffic control was because it was a police investigation.

LEMON: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back with our two breaking news tonight. According to "The Wall Street Journal", the investigation into Flight 370 has been classified as a criminal investigation.

Also tonight, an 8.2-magnitude earthquake has Chile and Peru under a tsunami warning for the next six hours. Make sure you stay with CNN for more of these two stories.

And I want to thank all of my experts tonight, all of my guests. Thank you so much for joining us.

"AC 360" starts right now.