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South Korean Sunken Ferry Disaster; Still No Sign Of Missing Jetliner; Mount Everest Avalanche: At Least 12 Sherpas Killed, 4 Missing

Aired April 18, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. 8:00 p.m. in New York, 9:00 a.m. in South Korea where there is breaking news in the search for survivors from that sunken ferry and criminal charges against the captain who abandoned ship.

Also tonight, new development for the search for more flight 370 fresh packs about the 777 light path and an emergency tracking equipment onboard that only deepen the mystery why the plane turned and why the equipment apparently failed to work.

And later, avalanche on Everest. Two-thirds of the way up, its hall is peak on earth. A wall of snow buries 12 mountain guides, now there are rescue efforts on the way and a two could prove deadly.

We begin though tonight with the breaking news. In the icy water down South Korea, that's where divers right now are doing some of the most dangerous work of their professional lives, slowly making their way around in and inside sunken ferry, looking for survivors. More than 270 people, many of them high school students on a field trip did not make it off the vessel.

And looking at this vessel taken as it sank it is not hard to see why. Passengers though, remember, we are initially told to stay where they were. And somehow, the ship's captain was among the first to leave. It is all making for a nightmarish day for loved ones on shore, and anguish as they wait for their missing loved ones.

Kyung Lah in South Korea begins our coverage. And I understand you just spoke with the coast guard there.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the coast guard is saying that they have laid down those search lines. They're like physical rope that they put on the ferry itself, the sunken ferry where they can go room by room.

They have not entered this ferry at this point, Anderson, and from what we have been able to understand, they have been looking inside of it. And they see things floating but will not say anything beyond that. So there is more news. We're expecting to learn much more has the hours pass, on what is now the beginning of the fourth day of this hunt.

COOPER: And are families still waiting in the port area? I understand there are counselors on site.

LAH: There are counselors on site. And what they're here for are the people you see over my shoulder, you can see the families just looking out at sea. And they can't see the ferry. They can't see the search operation. What they are hoping for, though, is some news trickling in to give them some sort of hope.


LAH (voice-over): Ferry captain Lee Joon Seok answering a questions consuming hundreds of desperate relatives. Why would you order passengers to stay on the sinking ship?

The current was very high and the water temperature was cold and if you had not wore a life jacket or even if you had worn one, if you got off the boat with no judgment you would have been swept very far away, he says.

The captain is handcuffed. Arrested today on five different charges, including abandoning ship and causing bodily injury resulting in death according to South Korean news agency, Yon Han (ph).

In this newly released video, you can see the captain right after he was rescued from his own sinking ship, while hundreds of others were left behind and eyes of many here in South Korea, he is enemy number one.

Prosecutors today revealed the captain wasn't on the bridge when the boat began to sink, but still hold him responsible for failing to slow down while sailing the narrow route and making the turn excessively.

Also released today, radio traffic between the Sewol ferry and authorities. The first sign of distress came in at 8:00 a.m. local time. Now all that remains of the ferry above the surface are buoys marking its position.

New footage from inside the doomed ferry continues to surface. And in this survivor's video, the ship is already at an extreme angle as passengers climber to high ground, others brace themselves inside as they were instructed by the crew. It is unclear if these people made it out alive.

One man who did make it out alive couldn't bear the reality in the end. In a wooded area near where distraught relatives are camped out in Jindo, police say the vice principal of the school where the children attended, hung himself. In a suicide note, police say he took responsibility for the loss of lives and asked for his ashes to be placed over the site.

His suicide has heightened fears at relatives of the missing might soon do the same.

I want to jump into the sea, she says, thinking about my child in the sea, how can I as a parent eat or drink? I hate myself for this.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Now, the captain said he had a reason for ordering people to stay put. I mean, it is hard for some viewers to understand why so many passengers listened to that as the ship sank, can you explain?

LAH: Yes, it is very difficult, especially those of us in western nations to understand how anyone can abide by an order, sit in a room as it is beginning to fill with water or even sit as the ship is tilting. The reason why here in Korea is this is a very unique culture, a very typical of Asian cultures but especially strong in Korea. What they prize here is obedience, listening to your elders. And so, remember, we're talking about high school students on a field trip. There were hundreds of them. And they were told over a loud speaker by an adult to stay put. So it is a cultural norm to listen to that. And it is a very strong thing, Anderson. That is why those students stayed. And that is why it is especially distressing to these parents who have really raised their children to listen to the elder s.

COOPER: All right, Kyung Lah, appreciate the update.

Now "360 exclusive" with this by phone from the search area, U.S. navy captain Joe Tynch, commanding officer of the USS Bonhomme.

Captain, appreciate you are joining us. What is the latest you can tell us about the U.S. involvement in the search and rescue efforts? I know your vessel has been involved and the Navy salvage ship is also moving towards the area.

CAPT. JOE TYNCH, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS BONHOMME (via phone): Well, good morning, thank you, Mr. Cooper. I would like to say our thoughts and prayers on the Bonhomie remain with the passengers of the ferry and their families. Today, the weather is much better here. It is clear, we have about two to four (INAUDIBLE) and easterly winds about 25 knots. On site, the weather is also clear about a thousand (INAUDIBLE) with seven miles visibility. So today looks to be a day that we can continue to help. So far the Bonhomme has reach airborne search and rescue missions. We're flying navy and marine helicopters and ospreys and are 350 degrees circle around the site from five miles out.

COOPER: And are you still with us?


COOPER: OK, sorry, what are you being told by South Koreans about whether there could be people still alive inside the ship? Is that still an operating assumption as far as you know?

TYNCH: Well, we are still engaged in search and rescue operations with our Korean partners. The Koreans are our lead. And their chief of naval operations says assumes the lead as they are same commander.

We made our best speed possible to get here as quickly as we could and join the effort. And we remain committed to help them any way we can. We exercise about 25 times a year with the Korean Navy and we have a very strong working relationship with them. We believe this whole effort is really about friends helping friends. And the Bonhomme in the United States is there to help them in any way we can.

COOPER: And at this point, you can no longer see the ship at all on the surface of the water, correct? There are just buoys where the location of it is?

TYNCH: That is correct, the ship is completely submerged.

COOPER: And I know you say you're looking on this five-mile perimeter in a circle looking for anything on the surface. Are you seeing debris on the surface?

TYNCH: Yes, sir. Our missions that have gone out have seen some debris. And we saw that yesterday. We have three scheduled missions today that will be taking off here. The first one, in about an hour to go back and help with the effort.

The South Koreans have a tremendous number of assets on station right now. The coast guard, Navy, they had air force, aircraft that are flying. They worked throughout the night. They're working tirelessly, the South Korean coast guard and Navy, and their civilian divers. They used night illumination last night para-flares dropped from the P-3 from the C130. They have on scene to do as much as they could around the clock to help rescue any potential survivors.

COOPER: Captain Tynch, I appreciate you being there and certainly talking about it with us tonight. Thank you very much for you and all your sailors and airmen.

Digging deeper now with the cargo ship captain and maritime safety consultant James Staples, maritime security council Governor Emeritus Kim Peterson who is also president of security dynamics and retired U.S. Navy diver, Bobbie Scholley.

Appreciate all you being with us.

Captain Scholley, let me start with you. How realistic do you think it is that there could still be people inside the ship who are still alive?

Captain, can you hear me? Apparently not. Excuse me, Bobbie, can you hear me? Apparently probably having problems with that.

We also want to talk about the conditions for the divers who are undertaking the search and what kind of precautions they have to look at. For -- Bobbie, are you there?


COOPER: OK. What are the conditions like for the divers in the water?

SCHOLLEY: This is the hardest diving and salvage job you could possibly imagine. The current is just ripping through there. These divers have to enter this hull of a moving ship that is under water. And they are diving in a surface supplied diving rig, which is a helmet -- and the air supply is being delivered to the divers through a hose that goes to the helmet. And they have to drag that hose behind them as they're trying to enter the ship and go through and search all of those spaces for the survivors.

So they are being encumbered by that hose that also includes the communication, the light, the air that they're breathing. And that slows them down. They also have to worry about that hose being either cut by any of the sharp metal inside that ship or being pinched, which would have their air supply.

It is dark in there. At the same time, they're trying to rush through to find those survivors because they know that time is of the essence. They have a limited amount of time for each dive. So it is just the hardest dive that they could possibly be making.

COOPER: Do they use those air hoses to be able to stay down longer than they would if they just had a tank of air? And I guess a tank of air would be hard in narrow spaces.

SCHOLLEY: Well, they are actually wearing an emergency tank of air on their back. That is part of that rig. But it is in the U.S. Navy and probably in the Korean Navy, as well, it is protocol that when you are going inside a closed space like inside this ship, you must have an outside air source. And that is why they have to use these particular rigs to have the air source coming from the diving ship through that hose.

COOPER: Got it.

SCHOLLEY: And then -- the hard hat.

COOPER: And Captain Staples, we know that the captain of the ferry has been arrested. Prosecutors are quoted by the South Korean news agency as saying that the captain failed to slow down while sailing the narrow route and making the turn excessively.

Is that in line with what you think could have happened to the ship? And does it make sense that the captain even though he was not on the bridge at the time would be the one bearing the responsibility?

JAMES STAPLES, CARGO SHIP CAPTAIN: Well, absolutely. He will be bearing responsibility. It is responsibility 24 hours a day on the ship as long as he is captain. It depends on what type of stability he had on the vessel. If he had negative stability by the time he was getting down to his port of arrival because of fuel burn off or whatever, then turning the vessel on the sharply turn like he did would cause a large inclination of the vessel, which would cap sized the ship. And that could be one of the reasons what happened because we had the large turn and then we might have had the shifting of cargo which changes the center of gravity on the vessel. So that has a great deal to do with the stability. And that could be the number one cause here.

We still don't know the route he was traveling if he was actually in the traffic lane or outside the traffic lanes. So, there are still a couple of variance that we still need to investigate to find out where he actually was when this happened. What his speed was, and of course, why he was not on the bridge.

And one of those reasons was he left the port late the night before due to fog. He might have been on the bridge all night long in heavy fog and early in the morning w the flog had gone away, he might have gone down to get some rest. We just don't know what he was doing at the time.

COOPER: And Kim, you think it is important to point out that this ferry apparently only had life rafts aboard not (INAUDIBLE) life boats the people used to seeing on cruise ships.

KIM PETERSON, PRESIDENT, SECURITY DYNAMICS: Yes. You hear a lot about that there were only two life boats that were deployed. But in fact, we know that we don't believe there were any life boats at all, but rather life rafts. And the distinction there is that a life boat would allow for evacuation where passengers and crews could enter into the life boat and have that lowered in to the sea. That's not possible on the sea wall. What you have instead are 46 containers that are lashed to the deck that have to manually released and thrown in to the ocean.

Now, if the vessel had been stable and sinking, those life rafts would have had to go in the water in order to deploy. And the passengers would have had to make their way down a gang way to get into the water or jump into the water and then climb in to the life rafts.

Given the temperature of the water, of course, that would have been a serious issue in of itself. But the fact is that the captain didn't call for an evacuation until the vessel was already listing which made it impossible for the crew to go and release the life rafts into the ocean. And which is part of the reason that we only saw two of them deployed.

COOPER: So in terms of trying to prevent something like this happening in the future, that is obviously something that the Korean authorities is going to be looking at.

PETERSON: I think so. And if you look at similar ferries, for example, operating out of the Baltic, PNO line for example, has ships of a similar size, they have an array of boat, life boats and life preservers, life rafts that are available in the event of emergency. That was not available to the passengers on the Sewol.

COOPER: Jim Staples, Bobbie Scholley, Kim Peterson, we appreciate you being here.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on twitter @andersoncooper. Tweet any question using #AC360.

Just ahead, a former Navy SEAL takes us inside the rescue effort step by dangerous step, what it is like going through a ship like this.

Also, will go to Paula Hancock who is on the water in the middle of the search with an update on how the divers are doing.

And later, what new information has to say about the chances in the finding flight 370.


COOPER: Tonight, breaking news, the search for the missing in the yellow sea, more than 270 people, most of them high school students went down with the ferry.

Paula Hancocks is on a boat who is a couple of hundred yards from the sunken ship. She joins us now by phone.

What have you seen there? What are conditions like, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, Anderson, you wouldn't actually know that a 6300 ton vessel just below the water unless you actually see these large inflatable markings that spot no part of the ship whatsoever is above water anymore.

We are seeing a tremendous amount (INAUDIBLE) on top of the water. This is a huge search operation, just a rough guess when we got here, I can't get to the vessel and I counted about 120 that range from the large ships from the Navy and also the dinghies for the divers. And the tiny vessels -- fishing boats. It is not just an official search operation. You have a lot of fishing vessels joining in the search.

Now you we can see a number of dinghies filled with divers. Obviously, what is happening on top of the water is not as significant as what is happening underneath. The divers right now are underneath us trying to get inside parts of the submerged ship. That is the crucial point for them at this point to try to find out if there are any survivors. Or if not to try to start the grim task of recovering some of the bodies that are below the water.

Now, just about maybe 500 yards away from the spot where this submerged ship is are two cranes. They're not being used at this point. On the other side I can see another two cranes. These are not part of the system, when they become part of the search this search changes dramatically as that could find they will be moving the ship. But at this point it is very much search and rescue still, with a couple of helicopters in the air keeping an eye on the situation. So it is a heightened search situation -- Anderson.

COOPER: Paula Hancocks, thanks very much.

We talked before the break about the remarkable challenges facing dive teams, the difficult conditions, as well as the formidable and perhaps insurmountable anyone still being alive inside the Jindo ferry.

I just want to show you right now, with me the retired Navy SEAL Cade Courtley . He is also founder of the educational and product Web site

Appreciate you being with us.

First, we'll just take a look at the animation of the ship actually going down. That is the current position. Let's take a look at it from the view underwater here. Now where would divers need to go? How deep would they have to go?

CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: OK. So what have learned is that majority of the people when they were told to stay put they were in these areas right here, which is the berthing departments. So you're looking at surface right there, 40 to 50 feet below the surface of the water for the main earth, for the fifth deck, which is where the majority of these people are.

COOPER: Where would divers actually try to enter the ship from? Would it be multiple location?

COURTLEY: It would be, and they were experiencing problems trying to get access to these areas here on the second deck. I understand they were able to access some of the areas down here on the fifth, which is where most of the people are, but again, they're 50 feet below surface. So as a diver, the less time you have, the less you can go --

COOPER: Right. We are also dealing -- I mean, very strong currents -- even getting in, I mean, the water has to be swirling around inside.

COURTLEY: Look, the diver's conditions they're dealing with, imagine being in a washing machine with 50 degree water and visibility of about six inches, that is what these guys are dealing with as divers going through a ship essentially using their hands.

COOPER: And when you try to go in, I mean, would you try to go to what is really the bottom of the ship first and work your way down?

COURTLEY: It all depends on the search patterns that they decide to hand. They go to the deepest first work their way up. So we will have a crew here, then maybe have a crew here. They will start deep and they will try basically and converge in the middle. And they're just going to be basically working their way in the middle, starting at the lowest, which is the most dangerous and pressing and work their way up.

COOPER: And they try to do it as systematically as possible?

COURTLEY: Absolutely. I mean, that is what the search is. It is the systematic thing based in several teams.

COOPER: Let's take a look with full plans of the ship. In terms -- I mean, there is a lot of talk about the possibility of air pockets. We don't know if there are, if there were is there any way to tell where they might be?

COURTLEY: There are three things you had to have gone through to be a survivor right now. You had to survive whatever it was, if they hit something, a blunt trauma, OK. So you had to survive that.

Number two, you had to fund yourself in an area where there is some air, breathable air, OK? So again, most likely those areas right there where the cabins are, OK? I understand a lot of folks were in the cafeteria area. That is about an hour and hour and a half of being submersed in the water. That's where it start anymore.

COOPER: Yes. And this water is incredibly cold. So anybody who is still in water -- I mean, that's part is going to survive.

COURTLEY: Best that is somebody is in, an air pocket in the cabin, one or two people were able to get a majority of their body above the water line, OK, so they're standing on something, and that is going to give you that extra time. It is going to be fighting off that hypothermia.

COOPER: Could there be air pockets even -- I mean, the top level, which is now the level most under water, I mean, couldn't there be air pockets on each floor or is the bottom line the one that were most likely --

COURTLEY: Well, if you go back one slide actually represent a little bit better. But the best bet, obviously, the area is going to come up. OK, and as we see the ships going down we're realizing it is becoming less and less buoyant. So if there are air pockets anywhere, the best bet will be right here.

In a perfect world -- look, we have three cranes out there. And if it is up to me, you get two cranes setting up shop back here, go ahead and put one up there. They're going to be able to raise the ship up or at least keep it stable. And then you get crews, welding crews putting access into the hull. And you send people down into it.

COOPER: You think that is the best bet?

COURTLEY: Right now that is the best bet. We've tried the option of getting there and trying to find the people from below with divers. Now, it is time to go in. But they have to stabilize the ship first. I mean, you literally do a belly band, two of the cranes there, now you control the ship and now you start to send people top down.

COOPER: It is just so horrific --

COURTLEY: As a passenger and survivor, it is counterintuitive. You know, if you want to go that way, but where you are going once you get there, you know, trying to do that option right now it is going to be very difficult.

COOPER: Cade Courtley, thanks so much.

And adding to the notion of the surviving days underwater, well unlikely, it is not impossible, is the experience of this man, a Nigerian cook, take a look at this video. He was rescued after three days under water, he is inside an air pocket in a sunken tug boat at the bottom of the Atlantic. This is actual footage from a diver's helmet cam as they find him. Suddenly a hand reaches out from under that air pocket, 100 feet down, they thought everybody was dead. They didn't know there was going to be a survivor on board. At first the dive team thought they were encountering a corpse. And the driver grabbed the hand, the hand grabbed back and that cook made history.

As always, you can find a lot more in this and other stories at

Coming up, why crews may be getting ready to put more vehicles in the water in the search for flight 370.

And later, we'll show you from inside a man's submersible, how recovery team deal with some of the obstacles like cables and debris. It can stand between them in the plane's black boxes.


COOPER: Some new developments tonight in the search for Malaysia airlines flight 370. Like so many others, they add to what we know, only deepening the mystery, the latest information centering on where the Boeing 777 made its faithful turn off course. How high it flew and what kind of emergencies the equipment that was on board that might have help locate the crash site but somehow and probably has failed to. As always, putting for panels to talk about.

First the specifics from Michael Holmes from Perth, Australia.

So Michael, it is new information about the plane's flight path. What do you know?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you put it well there, Anderson, about it how it adds to the mystery by getting more detail. But detail on the flight path from a Malaysian aviation source who told CNN that MH-370 made that -- * MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- to the mystery by getting more details. But detail on the flight path from a Malaysian aviation source who told CNN that MH-370 made that initial left turn, the departure from its planned route while within Vietnamese air space. Now then the source says investigators are telling him that it went to 39,000 feet, shorter than the 45,000 feet report some time ago and well within the plane's operating altitude. Any number of reasons for those moves, but it does show again that the plane was under manned control at that point -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're also learning more about the plane's emergency locator transmitters, which didn't go off.

HOLMES: Yes, this same source says that investigators have determined that the jet was equipped with four emergency locator transmitters, ELTs. They're different of course from the data recorders. Now those ELTs are designed to transmit the plane's location to an emergency satellite. And it does that when it is triggered by a crash or by contact with the water. Now the source was puzzled as we are over why they appear to have not activated or if they did activate why they were not picked up by the satellite.

Yet again raising more questions, did they not activate because they did not work or perhaps the plane did not have a hard impact. If it sank slowly that might not trigger them. Again, more questions, Anderson, not answers.

COOPER: From my understanding, a lot of that is triggered by the presence of water and salt water. Adding to the mystery. Michael Holmes, thanks.

Let's bring in the panel, CNN analyst, David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447, director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, CNN's safety analyst, David Soucie, author of "Why Plane Crash" and accident investigator, fights for safe skies, CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, and former Department of Transportation inspector general, Mary Schiavo who currently represents accident victims and their families.

Richard, this has been one of those questions that we have been asking all along and certainly must be asking about those ELTs, the electronic locator transmitters, which are supposed to go off when it comes in contact with the water.

QUEST: Right. So the first point, they're not the most reliable of instruments known to man or beast. Let's put that first of all. There is a 20 percent failure rate off that particular instrument. Then you have the question of where this took place. The most remote place on earth, way in the depths of the Indian Ocean. Then you factor into it how did the plane actually land or go into the water. Was it activated sufficiently? Finally, you have the question, if the machines work deep, deep under water. Although it is a big issue there are reasons why the ELT may not have given a reading.

COOPER: And David Soucie, there are questions about why the plane went up to 39,000 feet. That is within the range of this aircraft. Does that tell you anything?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it tells me again how unreliable these sources are because they keep telling us one altitude and then another. I maintain they're getting this information from primary radar not from secondary, so there is no transponder, nothing comes back and confirms that this is that aircraft at that altitude.

COOPER: Explain to me the difference between primary and secondary radar?

SOUCIE: Primary radar is just sending out a signal, it was designed to tell how fast something was coming at you and identify there was something out there coming at you. So that was a defense radar initially designed. The second radar has to do with the transponder. It receives the first ping from the primary radar, saying this is my speed, the altitude, the aircraft and where I am.

That is secondary, the primary was not really designed to give you altitude. Some advanced radar military can do that, but only if they are looking specifically for altitude, which I don't understand why they would have been at this point.

COOPER: And Mary, if you believe the source, they're being told that the plane maintained that altitude for about 20 minutes.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, and again, we have yet another set of altitude and directional data. This is now the fourth or fifth time this has changed. Another important point that they mentioned was that it was in Vietnamese air space. Remember a lot of the theories have that pilot or somebody on the plane had turned off the transponder and made the turn before they entered Vietnamese air space where they'd be picked up and before they did that handoff.

Now we hear they were in Vietnamese air space and that we didn't have the fluctuations in altitude that we were talking about just three or four days ago where they went down supposedly 5,000 feet or 10,000 feet because they fell off Malaysian radar. Yet another story, but I find it very interesting they were already in Vietnamese air space.

COOPER: David Gallo, a fifth dive of Bluefin-21 ended soon after it went into the water, had a problem with what's called the inertia navigation system. What is that?

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: Well, Anderson, so underwater GPS doesn't work because radio waves don't penetrate into water so we have to bring our own navigation to the bottom. It is a system based on accelerations and gyroscopes. So it's like when you are inside a car and the car turns sharply one way or the other or accelerates or decelerates. The computer keeps track of that and over time can tell you, it is a pretty about approximation of where the vehicle is.

COOPER: And there are now a number of these Bluefin missions, which have been cut short, is that just par for the course?

GALLO: It is par for the course, in the Air France 447, we had three vehicles out there and we had our share of those, very frustrating to the team at sea. And you know, every time you do that though, you learn a little bit more about the operation. So I expect they're already back in the water on their next mission.

COOPER: The Malaysians now apparently have a commission that is looking into whether or not to have more underwater vehicles. Do you think there should be?

GALLO: It is not a bad idea if you know exactly what they're going to be doing. It is all about the plan and we have been calling it mowing the lawn. And I just keep thinking about having six or seven different people showing up to mow your lawn. You know if it is not coordinated right, you have a problem on your hands. Missing spots, going over it two or three times. So they need a really solid plan on how to deploy those assets and then maybe it makes sense.

COOPER: And Richard, they are not releasing any of the images so far from the Bluefin-21, although they say they haven't seen anything.

QUEST: No, they say nothing of note has been found. And maybe it will be at some point they will release one specimen picture so we know what it looks like. But I'm sure the conspiracy theorists are happily concocting a tale that they're spinning it. The minute we go down that road we might as well turn the lights off.

COOPER: All right, Richard, thanks very much. To our panel, thank you.

Coming up, we are going to be showing you what it is like trying to recover wreckage under water. And later, a deadly day on Mt. Everest. At least 12 sherpas killed in an avalanche. Details on that ahead.


COOPER: Well, at this point there is no telling what search teams will have to deal with if and when they find wreckage at the bottom of Flight 370. For all we know the black boxes could be stuck in other metal, with cables, so it could be slow and could take time to retrieve them.

David Mattingly joins us now live. David, if and when the team does find black boxes, how do they actually go about retrieving it stuck in wreckage?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you might expect, it is a very slow and tedious process. And we're down here to demonstrate it. There are a couple of things to show you. There are just a couple of tools at their disposal. On the left there, it looks like a vinyl record, a cutting saw. And we'll switch to the camera right now, and on the lower left-hand portion of the screen is another device, looks like a claw.

With me is Phil Nuytten, a deep-water diving expert. And it would take a lot of time just to get a piece of metal or metal tool there to get to the instruments to use them. And while we're talking, let's go ahead and try to cut that because that in itself is a process. Go ahead.



NUYTTEN: HPU is hot and let's commence cutting.

MATTINGLY: And this is just going to be for one cut. It's a process it takes about 30 seconds. You're dealing with poor visibility down here. And at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, two, three miles down you will be dealing with all the pressure down there and you can see how long this takes. Are we close?

NUYTTEN: We should be.

MATTINGLY: Here we go. It didn't work. Nope? There we go. That was it. Anderson, all of that for just one cut. So you could imagine if there is a lot of wreckage to be moved, if the black boxes are trapped somehow it would be very slow and very difficult to get to them.

COOPER: How long can a submersible vessel stay down?

MATTINGLY: Well, there are about a half dozen submersible vessels that can carry people down to the bottom of the ocean at those depths and they can stay down for about six hours depending on how much time it takes to get down to the bottom. Because they have to be very slow and very methodical to go and have a place to land.

But also, you have to have safety on your mind because that is a real danger, getting entangled, you have to make sure there is another sub waiting nearby to help if you get stuck.

NUYTTEN: Right, you have to have a manned sub or a deep-diving ROV. So you're always very cognizant of what is around you, particularly in wreckage where anything can hang you up.

MATTINGLY: Right, you saw how hard it is to make just that one cut in one pipe. If your sub gets stuck well, let's just say it is something you don't want to have happen.

COOPER: Wow, that is amazing, the technology. David Mattingly, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up, 12 sherpas killed in an avalanche in Mt. Everest. Details on the deadly single incident ever on the mountain.

And a closer look at Nepal sherpas do incredibly dangerous sometimes deadly work so a lot of foreigners can climb.

And later, going one-on-one with Anthony Bourdain to hear about the Las Vegas, something tourists don't usually get to see.


COOPER: Well, it is the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest mountain. An avalanche of more than 20,000 feet on Mt. Everest today killed 12 sherpas. Nepal's Tourism Ministry says four others are missing and six people were injured. Right now, groups of sherpas are setting ropes and getting camps ready for the spring climbing season, which is the busiest of the year.

More than 300 foreign climbers have been given permission to climb Everest with about 400 sherpas helping them. It is a dangerous job to say the least. Grayson Shafer is the senior editor of "Outside" magazine. Last year, he wrote a disturbing piece called "The Disposable Man, A Western History of Sherpas on Everest". Grayson joins us now. Thanks for being with us. So the idea of them being disposable man, what do you mean by that?

GRAYSON SCHAFFER, SENIOR EDITOR, "OUTSIDE" MAGAZINE: Well, I think what I was writing about and really what it comes down to is this sort of routinization of sherpa death on the passes. There have always been sherpas dying on Everest. But it was done in the context of this sort of expeditions for God and country.

Now we've entered this era where Everest is sort of height of the tourist destination. You still have those same death rates that apply so what we know is that about 1 percent of everyone who leaves base camp is not going to come back. And as a work place safety statistic that is pretty much off the charts.

So you know, if you're a sherpa, it is more dangerous than fighting in the U.S. military, certainly and that is sort of where that title comes from.

COOPER: And I mean, they're risking their lives almost every day. Are they paid well? I mean, why -- I guess there are not a lot of other job opportunities?

SCHAFFER: Well, know, I mean, it is the best job going in the region, if somebody wants to stay in their home valley and work and make a good living and if you're fit enough and strong enough to do it, these guys can make between $2,000 and $6,000 in three months depending on which outfitter they're working for. It is hugely risky, and they're carrying 80-pound loads up through the passes, it is incredibly dangerous. They will do a dozen laps through the ice fall, compared with an American western commercial client who will do maybe three rotations at most.

So what you have is a situation where the -- you know, the western climbers are essentially outsourcing the risk to the sherpas who are climbing, who are doing not only the heavy lifting, but also exposing themselves to more time in harm's way, to sort of rule out hazards that the mountain can throw at you.

COOPER: And why is that region, the ice fall region, is that particularly dangerous?

SCHAFFER: Well, you know, the ice fall is sort of the glacier that flows from camp one, at the base camp and has these sheets of ice that are teetering every day. And both inside, and above it, raining down onto it and you know normally you know, normally people try to get through there you know by six -- by the time the sun hits it. But in this case, you had a sort of rare avalanche that was you know, hit it at 6:30 in the morning, right during Everest rush hour, and you had reports of as high as 50 people in the way of this thing.

COOPER: And when something like that happens on Everest, do other sherpas, do other climbers then go to try to search for those who are still missing?

SCHAFFER: Yes, you know, I mean in the Buddha tradition, it is very important to have a body to cremate so that their loved ones have a speedy reincarnation. People are waking up at base camp as we speak. And the first thing on their mind is to find the missing four sherpa climbers. Yes, they're going to go and be right in the line of fire. You know, shovels in hand, digging for their lost comrades. And they will probably stay as long as it takes to find them, even if they're in harm's way themselves.

COOPER: It is interesting what you talk about. The tourist nature of climbing Everest for a lot of people. You can sort of sign onto a service that will basically get you up the mountain, right?

SCHAFFER: Yes, that is right. And to their credit, outfitters have gotten very good in getting people to the summit mostly safely. But you know, the mountain is still the mountain. And you know, you can get fitter and have better nutrition and better equipment, but you can't stop the mountain from raining down avalanches on you. So expeditions, commercial expeditions can now give somebody a slightly better than average fitness, but they can't stop the mountain from producing avalanches and people from having altitude sickness and that sort of thing. We've come a long way but it is still just as dangerous as it has been.

COOPER: Well, I know you're leaving for Everest shortly. Grayson, I wish you well, be careful. And I'm a huge fan of "Outside." Thanks very much for being with us.

Up next, I sit down with Anthony Bourdain and talk about the upcoming episode of his show "PARTS UNKNOWN."


COOPER: New episode of Anthony Bourdain's "PARTS UNKNOWN," premiers on Sunday, 9 P.M. Eastern on CNN, an American journey to Las Vegas and I have to admit, I was surprised by the choice. I asked him what we could expect.


COOPER: Las Vegas, why Las Vegas? You haven't been -- you have been kind of critical of Las Vegas in the past.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": Well, there is a Las Vegas that we see and a Las Vegas that presents itself to the world. So we're looking at the Las Vegas that not a lot of people see. On the high end, you know, these super secret massive luxury villa accommodations that are available to the super rich whale gamblers.

And on the other hand, looking at the people who live in Las Vegas, who are born in Las Vegas, all of those thousands of people coming out of the side doors, the bowels of the casinos. The people year after year, serving drinks, cleaning rooms.

Imagine, you live in a town that says come to Las Vegas, behave as badly as you want, and there will be no consequences. We have to see this. We talk to people about what their view of the world is, given that they see the most appalling behavior of their lives. It is pretty interesting how they answer.

COOPER: There are also great chefs who have gone to Las Vegas.

BOURDAIN: You could be really creative and do really, really, good quality food there because it is a place where there are people with too much money and are happy to spend it on a luxury like a very creative, exclusive meal. You know, possibly the greatest Thai restaurant is in Las Vegas, and the interior of a frightening looking strip mall, where before they opened, all you could maybe get there was a massage and a beating.

COOPER: Was this the same place? A massage and beating?

BOURDAIN: I suspect so. There are some really good restaurants that are off the strip. And so you know, we try to visit both sides. The have's and the have not's, not built around Las Vegas, the dance clubs make more money than the slots a lot of times in Las Vegas.

COOPER: I always find it is depressing when you're leaving Las Vegas in the airport, and there are people at the slot machines, they have spent their money and the weekend is over and they are returning back to their lives.

BOURDAIN: Come on. You never lost your last dollar on a microwave hotdog in a gas station or a pharmacy, come on, you haven't lived.


COOPER: I have not lived. Be sure to tune in for Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown this Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. It's a great show.

That does it for us. Make sure you set your DVR so you never miss 360. CNN tonight with Bill Weir starts now.