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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Divers Race to Find Ferry Survivors; Bluefin Makes Fifth Dive for Flight 370; Earthquake in Southern Mexico; Anti-Semitic Leaflets in Eastern Ukraine; Avalanche Kills 12 on Everest; Police Make Arrest in KC Highway Shootings; Texas Seizes Jeffs Polygamist Ranch

Aired April 18, 2014 - 11:00   ET

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


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. I hope you have a wonderful Easter holiday.

@ THIS HOUR with Berman and Michaela starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: It is a race against time in frigid waters, the capsized ferry now completely submerged, hundreds of children still missing and the captain who fled and survived is facing arrest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Another day, another dive, could the fifth mission into the deep bring back a sign of Flight 370?

BERMAN: In east Ukraine, masked men hand out anti-Semitic flyers outside a synagogue. U.S. officials describe the contents as grotesque and chilling.

Who is behind them? And why?

Hello, everyone. Great to see you. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. I thought you were going to start singing "Together Again" or something.

BERMAN: It's been a long time.

PEREIRA: It's been a long time.

It's 11:00 a.m. in the East, 8:00 a.m. out West.

Those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: We begin with divers racing to force their way into that sunken ferry. Its blue and white hull has slipped beneath the ocean's surface. About 270 passengers, most of them teenagers, still missing.

PEREIRA: CNN now has a transcript of the conversation between the ferry and the vessel traffic center. It begins at 8:55 a.m. Wednesday with the ferry's distress call.

BERMAN: This is the ferry. "Please notify the coast guard, our ship is in danger. The ship is rolling right now."

PEREIRA: There's more back and forth, and a full five minutes later at 9:00 a.m., the ferry reports this.

BERMAN: Again, this is the ferry. "Currently the body of the ship is tilted to the left. Containers fell over, too."

PEREIRA: The dispatcher then replies, "OK, there are no damages to people?"

BERMAN: And the ferry, "Currently it's impossible to confirm. It is impossible to move as the body of the ship is tilted."

PEREIRA: Then the traffic center replies, "Yes, OK, please put on the life vests and get ready as people may have to abandon ship."

Then, another five minutes later, the dispatcher reports, "Yes, we just notified the coast guard."

BERMAN: So that is a full 10 minutes before the traffic center confirms it notified the coast guard. That seems like an awfully long time. We'll talk about that coming up.

In the meantime, arrest warrants have been issued for the ferry's captain and two other crew members after a prosecutor reveals it was a third mate at the helm when the ship started to sink. The captain was not in the steering room.

PEREIRA: Now, as grief and anger deepen for passenger families, a fresh tragedy, the vice principal whose 300 students were on board the ferry was found hanging from a tree, just days after he was pulled from the wreckage.

Our Paula Hancocks is in Jindo, South Korea. She joins us now. Paula, can you give us the latest on the search efforts right now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Michaela, we know they are continuing throughout the night. This, for the first time on Friday, we saw that divers did manage to get inside the submerged ship.

Now, we know they managed to get into the second floor, at least part of it, but they were not able to get any further. But up until that point, they didn't find any survivors and they didn't find any bodies.

But officials do say that they managed to pump some oxygen into the ship. Now the reasoning behind this is because they are working under the assumption that there are still survivors. At least that is what they said on Thursday.

And they're saying that if there are any air pockets within the ship, they want to make sure they are continuing to put oxygen into that area.

But of course it is a very, very difficult situation. The weather conditions are not conducive to an easy search. We understand that the underwater currents are still strong. The winds are still high out at sea. It's about 12 miles away from where we are now.

John and Michaela?

BERMAN: Paula, any sense of what caused this boat to go down? We've heard about a rapid right turn. We've heard about cargo shifting.

Are they getting any closer to pinpointing a cause?

HANCOCKS: Well, the latest we heard this Friday on -- from officials was that they almost downplayed the fact that there could have been a deviation from the intended route of this ferry, one official saying that they believe that this may not have been the sole cause, but of course we did hear on Thursday from maritime police they believe it could have contributed to this.

So, at this point, it's not clear what exactly did cause this. We do know, though, of course, the third officer was at the helm. The captain wasn't at the helm.

And the families here at the harbor are desperately trying to find out more information. This is the third night that they have been sitting at the water's edge, looking out, wondering what has happened to their children.

We are hearing one woman over and over, screaming at the top of her voice. We have heard her say, Just tell us, are they alive or dead? Are they alive or dead? And that is the basic question that officials cannot answer at this point.

PEREIRA: An agonizing wait for those family members that are waiting onshore for any sign of their loved ones.

Paula Hancocks, thank you very much for the very latest. We'll continue to cover this story today.

BERMAN: And, of course, talk about the apparent arrest warrant for the captain. Much more to come on this.

But first, almost six weeks after Malaysian Flight 370 disappeared, this is what we know @ THIS HOUR.

The Bluefin-21 is back in the deep, looking for clues on the ocean's floor. This is its fifth dive. The first four have turned up nothing.

PEREIRA: So far, this sub has gone it alone, but a Malaysian official says more unmanned subs could join the search later, this as frustrated relatives of the 239 people on board are turning up the heat on Malaysian officials.

They've come up with a list, a list of 26 questions that they want answered at a meeting that is scheduled for next week in Beijing.

BERMAN: We've been talking about the search under the sea. The search on the surface has not let up either. Almost two dozen ships and planes are eyeballing more than 20,000 square miles for any sign of debris.

Let's check in now with our Erin McLaughlin. She is in Perth in Australia, where this whole search is based.

Good morning, Erin. What's the latest?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. We know as of 9:00 a.m. local time, the Bluefin was in the water, some over 12 hours later, not clear if it has yet completed that fifth mission. Missions can take some 24 hours.

We are learning more details about that fourth dive, which it completed last night. It was able to travel some 4.7 kilometers beneath the ocean's surface, which is significant because it was previously thought that 4.5 kilometers was its depth capacity.

And it's important that it be able to travel deeper. It had to cut its first mission short, its very first mission short earlier due to depth concerns. But engineers analyzing the Bluefin-21 now say they believe it can go up to 5 kilometers deeper.

So, it is significant that in practice now, it's traveling those deeper depths, and it's really important that it be able to really survey this entire area, because this is the search area that officials have identified as the most probable place that they will locate that black box based on ping analysis.

As you mentioned, the first four dives so far turning up no clues as to the whereabouts of missing Malaysian Flight 370. We are waiting on the results from this fifth mission.

PEREIRA: Actually, Erin, one of the things we've been hearing is there's a lot of call for some extra assistance. We've heard that the Bluefin-21 might get help some more help with some other AUVs aiding in the search.

Have you heard any further word on that?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's something we're hearing from Malaysian officials, the acting transportation minister tweeting this morning that they're exploring the possibility of introducing more submersibles to the search.

But it's not something at the moment we're hearing from Australians. All along, they've said that they believe that the Bluefin-21 is capable of completing this phase of this search.

Now, that being said, officials here in Australia saying that in the coming days they may wrap up this area that it's currently looking at, which has been identified again as the most probable place based on those pings.

Then they have to consider the next phases or next steps of this search. They may have to broaden it out a bit. And at that point it's possible, one would imagine, that they would then introduce perhaps more submersibles to be able to cover more area.

Michaela?

PEREIRA: All right, Erin McLaughlin with the latest on that, thank you so very much.

BERMAN: Let's take a look at some of the other headlines @ THIS HOUR.

This just in, a strong earthquake shook southern Mexico. This happened about a half an hour ago. The 7.5-magnitude quake, that's big, struck along Mexico's Pacific coast about 19 miles from the city of Tecpan.

We have no word yet of damage or injuries. Stay with CNN. We'll keep you updated as we get more details.

PEREIRA: Some other headlines @ THIS HOUR, world leaders are denouncing shocking anti-Semitic leaflets that were handed out in eastern Ukraine, those leaflets ordering Jewish people in the area to register with the government office.

They supposedly came from a man who calls himself the head of the "People's Republic of Donetsk," but he said he had nothing to do with them.

We'll have more details from the Ukraine later this hour.

BERMAN: The deadliest accident ever on the world's tallest mountain, an avalanche on Mount Everest has killed at least 12 Sherpa guides. Four others are missing and a high-altitude rescue operation under way right now.

Officials in Nepal say this happened just above the base camp. That's more than 20,000 feet up. The guides were preparing the path to the summit for climbers when the mountain of snow came crashing down.

PEREIRA: People in Kansas City breathing quite a sigh of relief today, police took a man into custody in connection with as many as 20 highway shootings.

Three people have been shot since early March. None of them suffered life-threatening wounds.

A $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest, and now a man is in custody.

BERMAN: Texas authorities have seized the ranch that was home to Warren Jeffs and his polygamist sect. The Yearning for Zion Ranch was big news in 2008 when police raided it and removed more than 400 children.

Prosecutors and others it's where Jeffs and other leaders sexually abused young girls by forcing them to marry older men.

Jeffs is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two girls. One was just 12 years old.

Just a handful of adults were still living at the 16,000-acre compound.

PEREIRA: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, the last section of the South Korean ferry sinks underwater, could anyone still be alive down there? Our next guest says it's possible if survivors have managed to find the voids.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM HAN-SIK, PRESIDENT, CHONGHAEJIN MARINE COMPANY LIMITED: Executives and employees of the Chonghaejin Marine office have committed a grave sin. We sincerely apologize to the victims and their families as well as people of the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: You just heard an apology from the ferry company president as about 270 people, most of them high school students, remain lost aboard that sunken ferry.

BERMAN: Now, CNN has just obtained a transcript from the first frantic moments after that vessel began to roll.

Someone aboard the ferry called the traffic services center in Jeju at about 8:55 a.m. Wednesday, and five minutes later, the dispatcher advised people to put on life vests and prepare to abandon ship.

PEREIRA: But it wasn't until another five minutes passed that the traffic center reported it, quote, "just notified coast guard."

BERMAN: Joining us now is Kim Petersen. He's governor emeritus of the Maritime Security Council, president of Security Dynamics.

Kim, you have such a breadth of knowledge on situations like this. We're hoping you can explain to us this timeline we just got, because whether it's five minutes until they were told to put on life vests or 10 minutes until the coast guard responding, you know, to novices, it seems lake a long time.

KIM PETERSEN, GOV. EMERITUS, MARITIME SECURITY COUNC.; It does. And it's inexplicable at this point. We're still trying to gather as much information as possible. And we're not sure when in fact they began to deal with the event after it first occurred.

What we've heard from some of the crew members that have been rescued, the captain was brought to the bridge. We know he was not there at the time the incident first occurred. They realized that the vessel was imperiled. At that point, apparently word went out to the passengers, telling them to stay put. That may have been because the captain felt that he was going to be able to stabilize the vessel and perhaps provide a more stable platform from which to launch an evacuation from the vessel.

But it soon become readily apparent that the vessel was not going to be stabilized. And that is when the captain should have giving the evacuation order. That did not take place and we're not sure then where in the time line they contacted VTS, that's the Vessel Traffic Services in Jeju Island which was the destination of the ship. PEREIRA: Kim, knowing what you know about these kind of scenarios, and looking at the scene, we just saw video of the open ocean there, the seas and the currents are strong, the water's murky, we know that temperatures are very low. Given what you know, how likely is it that there could be survivors still under there?

PETERSEN: Well, in other cases where vessels have sunk, we've had survivors that have been rescued as long as three days out from the incident. But, again, a lot depends on the size of the void inside the ship, where air is trapped by the oncoming water.

PEREIRA: And when we talk about the void, you mean like trapped air? Right, right.

PETERSEN: That's correct. And so if the area is large enough for survivors to get into, provided that there's enough air so the oxygen isn't depleted by the people who are occupying that space, and also provided that the individual people are in water or wet, because we know that after only a couple of hours, hypothermia is going to set in when people are in water at the temperature that you find here, which is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

BERMAN: Kim, I want you to break down a little bit of information we just received, the idea that the captain was not at the helm of this ship when it had the incident. The third mate was. Explain to us again, what exactly is a third mate? Is this person qualified to be sheer steering the ship? And is it OK for the captain just to turn over that authority?

PETERSEN: Absolutely. The captain can't be on the bridge at all times. And, in fact, he has other duties elsewhere in the ship. He has to delegate the responsibility to -- driving the ship to other deck officers. Now, he can delegate that responsibility, but he can't delegate -- delegate the authority but not the responsibility. Ultimately, he is going to be responsible for everything that happens on the ship. And we know now that some of the decisions that the captain made -- and we know this wasn't the normal captain on the ship. He was standing in for the regular ship's captain. He made some critical errors that were compounded over time.

PEREIRA: We know that this boat was a combined use, ferry and cargo ship. We keep hearing about possible causes, the route change, the sudden turn, cargo not tied down. How could some of that come into play in terms of sinking a ship?

PETERSEN: In fact, this is a multiuse ship, as you say. It's called a ropax, which is a roll-on passenger ferry. So it has not only passengers on board, but it has vehicles and containers, the large TEUs that you see on a container ship.

And if you look to similar incidents in the past, in 1987, we had the Herald of Free Enterprise, which was a ship that took on water, it also had vehicles -- and what you need to understand about these ships is that in order to have vehicles on the vessel, you need a very large deck space typically close to the water line. You don't need much of a breach in the hull to introduce water that, if you only have 1 to 2 inches of water on the vehicle deck of a ropax ship, such as the sea wall, and as in the case of the Herald of Free Enterprise, in that case, the vessel sunk inside of 90 seconds once water ended up getting into the vehicle deck.

And it's something that's called the free surface effect. You have 1 to 2 inches of water sloshing around on this very large space inside the vessel. That's enough to destabilize the ship and cause it to go into a critical situation very quickly.

BERMAN: It doesn't take much if you're not handling it the right way. Kim Petersen, we're lucky to have you help explain this all to us. Thanks so much for being with us.

PETERSEN: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, the latest developments in the search for Flight 370. The Bluefin-21 goes on its fifth mission. As authorities now consider sending more underwater vehicles down, what are they waiting for?

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BERMAN: New developments to tell you about in the search for missing Malaysia Flight 370. The underwater drone known as the Bluefin-21 went back into the Indian Ocean today for a fifth time. So far it has found nothing from that plane.

PEREIRA: Authorities say the Bluefin has scanned about 42 square miles. The Malaysian government is considering deploying more unmanned underwater probes to cover a much bigger arc, more than 370 miles long.

Joining us now, Steve Wallace, former director of the FAA's accident investigation office and our aviation analyst, Jeff Wise. Steve and Jeff, great to have you. Steve, why don't we start with you? I think most people would think more is better in this case. Isn't it? Wouldn't it make a difference to have more of these underwater vehicles helping out in the search?

STEVE WALLACE, FMR. DIR., FAA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION OFFICE: Well, Michaela, I would certainly think so. We've talked about this Bluefin-21 covering maybe 15 square miles a day at best. And a couple of descriptions of the search area, one was 370 by 30 miles, whatever it was was about 11,000 square miles. Well, that looks like a couple of years at that rate. So I would certainly think more assets.

I'm not an expert on things -- I'm more an expert on things that fly in the sky than go under water, but I don't know if these Bluefin-21s can confuse each other, whether you can operate several of them right near each other. I wouldn't know. The experts would have to answer that question. But more is better certainly sounds right to me.

BERMAN: Jeff, what do you think? How long do you think they can go before they decide there's nothing down there? You've been a little bit skeptical all along about this. Do you think they should give it another week, two weeks, three weeks? JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think it's worth backing up and just acknowledging how crazy pants this whole search has been.

PEREIRA: Did you say crazy pants?

WISE: Crazy pants is the only word I can find to apply to this search. I mean, normally, in every other search in history, what happens is you have a general sense of where the plane went down, then you look for surface debris. Once you find the surface debris, then you go around and you listen for the pings. And once you've found the pings, then you do this kind of Bluefin type of search. All of that is out the window with this plane. Never had a general idea of where the plane went down, started looking for debris anyway. Didn't find debris, started listening for pings anyway. Didn't really find the ping, as we found the last couple days. It seems like we did not find a ping. And yet we're going to increase the search area anyway.

BERMAN: Well, you don't trust the ping that they heard. They heard four pings that they think came perhaps from the black boxes.

WISE: Seems to me that the ping frequency was wrong. It also seems to me, as I've said many times, the range of the acoustic pinger locator is only a mile or two. So we shouldn't have to be looking at a huge area; I mean should only be a very tiny --

BERMAN: That's a whole different issue. If they didn't hear the pings at all, if the pings were wrong, as you said, then it's not surprising at all that the Bluefin is not finding anything.

PEREIRA: So, Steve, jump in on this. Are you as confident or do you have as much confidence or less confidence than Jeff has in these pings? And if not that, then where do we go? What do we do?

WALLACE: Well, maybe I have slightly more confidence than Jeff does but he's raising perfectly good questions. But we're just going with the best evidence that we have. We have no debris here. I'll add one little thing to the notion that this airplane could land intact. If this airplane runs completely out of fuel, Hollywood might have you believe the jet would've plummet into the ocean. But it won't do that. It has a device called a ram air turbine that deploys in the slipstream and provides hydraulics and electrics and the plane remains controllable. So if a human were at the control of that airplane, even out of fuel, it could possibly have been set down intact. And that is one possible explanation for the lack of debris.

Jeff's raising a lot of good points. I think the team is just doing the best it can with the best evidence it has.

BERMAN: I'm sure, Steve, you've dealt with the term crazy pants at the FAA plenty.

WALLACE: Smarty pants also.

BERMAN: Steve Wallace, Jeff Wise, great to have both of you here for this (inaudible).

PEREIRA: Are we going to have to hashtag that now? I think we should probably get ahead of that, shouldn't we?

All right, ahead @ THIS HOUR, to our top story, once again, the captain of the doomed ferry and two crew members are now wanted under a South Korean arrest warrant. They escaped the sinking ship. We're going to talk about the kind of justice they could perhaps face.

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