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Timeline of Ferry Disaster; Challenges of Searching Ferry Wreck; Launching Submersibles; Separatist Leader Rejects Ukraine Deal; Deadliest Day of Mt. Everest History

Aired April 18, 2014 - 12:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: More than two full days since a loaded ferry tipped over and sank off the South Korean coast, rescuers are clinging to one shred of hope.

The coast guard says they have a good idea where most of the trapped passengers are located in the upside-down ship. Conditions in the water are so rough and so dangerous that divers were only able to get close to that location.

Then there's the captain who did manage to get off the sinking ferry, unlike hundreds of people he was responsible for. South Korean prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him and two other crew members. The confirmed death toll from the accident is now 29 people, and even though we don't know yet what happened to cause that ship to sink, we have learned a few things about this particular ferry.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is still a lot we don't know right now, but we do know some of the basics about this ship that started out this whole saga.

It's a very large vessel, about 7,000 pounds, 500 feet tip for tip. Five different stories, some for cargo, some for people. It was retrofitted a couple of years ago which seems to have possibly added some weight to the ship.

We also know basically what happened. Over a fairly extended period of time, whether it hit something or simply had another problem, it began tipping like this and then rolled completely under water. And apparently, because people were being told to stay in place or couldn't get out, a lot of people appear to have been trapped inside.

This is a huge challenge obviously because there can also be air trapped in there. They've been trying this idea of pumping air into these folks to see if they can somehow keep them supplied with oxygen and battle against the water in here.

There are many challenges. First of all, can you get enough air in? So far, they've had very little luck with that. Secondly, the temperature of the water out here, this is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is that cold, even if it's a little warmer, you really start talking about people only having a few hours before hypothermia becomes a very serious issue, potentially a lethal issue. There's that, as well.

And this remains a maze of hallways and rooms like any ship might be, not easy to search especially when they have problems of weather, difficulties on the seas. It is a gigantic challenge and hour by hour the chances of anyone staying alive in these conditions is of course diminished.

LEMON: Tom Foreman, appreciate that, sir.

With me again now, Captain Jim Staples, 20 years with the Merchant Marines, also, retired U.S. Navy Captain and very experienced salvage diver Bobbie Scholley.

Bobbie, you know it's now 1:30 in the morning over there where the ferry sank. Time is so precious. Every minute can mean life or death. Is there anything that these water search crews can do overnight in that water?

CAPTAIN BOBBIE SCHOLLEY, U.S. NAVY (RETIRED): Well, I think one of the things we talked about if they can try to keep that air bubble maintained in that ship by trying to pump air into it, and they use what we call salvage pumps to try to get air into that ship to try to maintain it floating like it has been.

It's hard to see that -- for me to see that the keel of the ship has gone below the surface of the water, and that means to me that air is leaking out of it. So they need to start -- they need to maintain those salvage pumps, pumping air into the ship, to try to keep an air bubble, as much as they can.

But like Tom said, those divers have a terrible time trying to get inside that ship, because, again, those divers are using a surface- supplied system so they have air hoses attached to their helmets.

And when they go through that rabbits warren of spaces, they're dragging their air hoses behind them that are connected to the surface, to the dive ship, and they're dragging that behind them. You can see their air hoses attached to then, those yellow hoses. We call that the umbilical, and they have to drag that behind them as they progress into the interior of the ship look for survivors.

So that takes a lot of time, and those hoses are heavy as they drag them through the ships looking from space to space, looking for those passengers. And that takes a long time for the divers to work their way through all those compartments, looking for those survivors.

And, ultimately, they have to, you know, pull the divers out then, because the divers have either been worn out from working their way through, or their time limits have been exceeded and they have to pull then out and decompress them.

LEMON: Exactly. Exactly.

So, Captain Staples, tell us what's probably going on with this captain? Who would be talking to him and at what level?

CAPTAIN JIM STAPLES, CARGO SHIP CAPTAIN: Well, he's definitely probably talking to the investigators and they're trying to find out, put together what actually happened on board the ship.

And I would imagine he's probably talking to the lawyers, too, the company's lawyers, along with the company's officials. But they're trying to piece back the investigation as to what happened, the time frame, and what his actual commands were as he was captain of that ship.

Did he give the evacuation orders? Or was it the third mate? Or was it somebody else? That's probably what they're trying to do is piece back together the event.

LEMON: Captain Staples, tell us how a ferry is different from a normal commercial ship.

What is unique about a ferry that investigators have to look at? Is it more prone to sink?

STAPLES: Well, no, it's not that. The uniqueness about a ferry is, obviously, this is one is it carries passengers.

Most merchant vessels, we don't have any more than between 17 to 22 people on board, so that's the uniqueness of the ship. Not only was this a commercial passenger carrier, it also carried commercial cargo.

So, they're going to have to take a look at the recommendations and the regulations and see if there's anything they can do better to make these ships a little bit more seaworthy. Maybe a vessel of this capacity, you may not want to be putting cargo on board. You may just want to consider it strictly a passenger vessel.

LEMON: Yeah.

All right, thank you, Bobbie Scholley. Thank you, Jim Staples. Appreciate you.

Now back to that search for the missing Malaysian plane. You're looking at live pictures of the submarine like the one that could be used to pull pieces of wreckage from the bottom of the ocean.

That gentleman you see right there, of course, is none other than Martin Savidge. He is there. Martin, what are you going to show us? That's a beautiful shot, by the way.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, isn't that a gorgeous background? This is Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia.

What we're doing here is, whether you're going to be using a submersible that's a manned submersible like this one or whether you're going to be using an ROV, getting them into the water is actually a very difficult but very needed ballet.

We're going to show you how it all works and take you under water in the process. We'll do it all, live, talking to you as I go.

So I'll get under way. See you in a bit.


LEMON: Back now to the search, 6-weeks-old today, for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, if and when an underwater robot turns up the all- important flight-data or cockpit-voice recorder, how do we get it?

My CNN colleague Martin Savidge is on a research -- tiny research sub off the coast of British Columbia with a demonstration for us.

What's going on there, Marty?

SAVIDGE: Well, what we're going to show you here is, essentially, Don, how a submersible like this or even an ROV has to be launched over the side.

Joining me now, Phil Nuytten, he's the man who knows just about everything there is with underwater. Tell us what's going on. Just give us a narration here.

PHIL NUYTTEN, PRESIDENT, NUYTCO RESEARCH LIMITED: Right now we're getting set to leave the barge and go over the water, and once we've extended out far enough to make sure we don't hit anything, then we'll hit the water.

You see there's a swimmer ahead of us?

SAVIDGE: We've got a diver. So he's in the water. What's his job?

NUYTTEN: His job is to unhook us from the crane. So, as soon as we are pre-floating, he'll climb on and unhook us.

SAVIDGE: Here's the inside. There's the water level rising other the top. They call this --

NUYTTEN: The Emerald Sea.

SAVIDGE: With a very good reason.

NUYTTEN: It does have kind of an emerald look, although the water's a little murky today because there's been a lot of rain in the last week or so, and that comes down through the Fraser River and pours into the ocean and makes it pretty murky.

However, in some ways, that's a good thing, because it's likely that when you're working on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, it will be pretty murky.

SAVIDGE: And the thing is, we should point out, these things work 24 hours a day. It's not like they have to have daylight to operate, right?

NUYTTEN: Oh, absolutely not. In fact, there will be nobody daylight at the bottom of the Indian Ocean because it will be pitch black. However, the lights are very, very powerful.

SAVIDGE: We should point out, we've got a -- I don't know if I can make parade turn, but we're going to see that we have our pilot in the back, and that's Jeff, and he is the one that is actually controlling the vessel.

He communicates topside to make sure that we're released. Once we're free and clear, though, we're on our own. It's not like we're on some, you know, rope or anything like that.

NUYTTEN: Not at all. Unlike an ROV, remotely operated vehicle, we are completely autonomous. We're untethered.

There's nothing coming from the surface. Our batteries are self- contained, and we've got enough battery power here to last us probably 12 hours, so we're in good shape there.

SAVIDGE: I'm not sure that makes me feel so great being down this long, but already change of color you can see, Don, very much now, as the water level begins to get dark, and we're not even that deep.

And at the same time, we're, what, letting air out? We're releasing?

NUYTTEN: We're letting air out of the ballast tanks, and water is coming in to replace it which is making us heavier. And we'll start down.

And then Jeff, our pilot, can make us go down faster or slower as he wishes, using his vertical thrusters, so he can make us go up or down as he wishes.

SAVIDGE: And one of the things that I was fascinated with about this, Don, was the fact that, you know, there is no GPS under water. I just figured you automatically knew. You added a pinpoint and you go to that spot.

But it doesn't work that way, does it?

NUYTTEN: No, not at all. In fact, we're doing -- we're using a lot of amount of sonar to see where we are. And if we find a point that is -- for instance, supposing we were down at the bottom the Indian Ocean, and found the black box, one of the first things we'd do is drop a pinger on it so that we can come back to it. So that pinger will continue to emit a beam and we have a receiver that we can pick it up.

SAVIDGE: All right. Well, we're pretty much down there. Anyway, now that gives you a sense of whether it was going to be in the Indian Ocean or whether it was going to be here in British Columbia, the launching and the coordination of making this happen, just to begin, takes a lot of work, a lot of experience and it has to be done exactly right -- Don.

LEMON: You probably don't want to hear this, Marty, but you've given me a perspective, that out-of-the-water shot of just how tiny that submersible is. Lucky you, my friend, lucky you.

SAVIDGE: We'll save you a space, Don, don't you worry.

LEMON: Oh, well, don't worry about that, that's all yours, Marty, enjoy, you're doing a great job. Appreciate it. Thank you, Marty.

Thank you, Phil.

Defiance in Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters refuse to lay down their arms, ignoring an international deal for them to do so.

What can be done to keep the crisis from escalating? We're going to talk about that next. Fareed Zakaria joins us.




LEMON: Diplomatic deal in place to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. The question is, will it hold as Ukraine's president and prime minister call for unity today?

A pro-Russian separatist leader is rejecting that international deal that calls for protesters to vacate seized buildings. He wants Kiev's interim government to resign instead. Russia, Ukraine and the West really thrashed out that agreement in Geneva on Thursday. It calls for protesters to disarm and promises amnesty for most.

I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria, the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." He's with us now.

So what's the motivation for this pro-Russian separatist to reject this deal?

What is the motivation to reject this deal here?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: So these guys are, you know, pro-Russian and, most importantly, anti-the government of Kiev, anti-the Ukrainian government.

They're saying why should we stand down? Why should we go away? We want to create an independent republic. We want a referendum. We want maybe to join up with Russia. That's probably their goal.

It's not entirely clear whether this is inspired by Moscow. In other words, it's quite possible that while Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister, is signing a deal on one hand, telling these, you know, that says vacate these buildings, quietly they're sending signals to these guys, saying you don't need to vacate. If you don't want to vacate the buildings, so there may be some game there, where what the Russians will then say is, look, we can't stop it, this is a pro- Russian sentiment that's so deep--


LEMON: Is that leading to the possibility -- more a possibility of a civil war here?

ZAKARIA: I think it's leading more to a possibility of violence because I think that the Russians want to call this civil war. What it really is, is the Ukrainian government is going to at some point have to take control of its territory and take control of these buildings. And that might mean tear gas. That might mean some violence.

What the Russians want to say is that's civil war and now we have to intervene. So I think of it as more the Ukrainian government needs to get control of its own country.

LEMON: Energy is big business in Russia. The CEO of the Royal Dutch Shell met with Putin on Friday, lots of economic interest in the E.U.

My question is, Putin does not seem to really care about sanctions at this point. And he just seems to be sort of doing what he's doing.

But at some point, will he care?

ZAKARIA: Oh, I think he will. Look, Russia's growth is already projected to be zero percent this year, down from maybe 2 percent or 3 percent last year, down from 5 percent a few years ago. For Russia, the most important thing is if it can preserve its energy profile but also its integration with the financial system of the world.

What the United States did with Iran, which was very smart, was it went to a whole bunch of banks all over the world and said, if you deal with the Iranians -- and here are the 25 Iranian companies, banks, oil companies -- if you deal with them, we will freeze you out of the dollar payment system. That is what the world works on. So if you're a big company in Russia and you want to buy 100 tractors, generally that deal is done in U.S. dollars.

And if the U.S. says -- our financial system and our banks are really at the center of the world commerce in that sense -- you shut the Russians out of that, they can't do as much business. They can't buy stuff as easily. They can't sell stuff. It's like you put a big tax on them.

And just as the Iranians initially said, oh, we don't care about all these sanctions, but eventually it started to pinch. That may be the case with the Russians. Not in the short term. In the short term, all this stuff is great for Putin; his popularity is up 20 points. But in the long run, nobody wants to preside over bad economic times.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Fareed Zakaria.

And remember, tune in to Fareed Zakaria, as I do all the time, and also I DVR it as well, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," Sundays at 10:00 and then again at 1:00.

We appreciate you.

Today was the deadliest day ever on the world's tallest mountain. An avalanche strikes on Mt. Everest. Details on what happened straight ahead.




LEMON: It is the single deadliest accident on the world's tallest mountain. An avalanche on Mt. Everest has killed at least 12 Sherpa guides. Three people are seriously hurt, including this Sherpa guide, who is in intensive care -- in the intensive care unit in Katmandu hospital. Four others are still missing. A rescue operation is underway. Officials in Nepal say this happened just below Camp One, more than 20,000 feet above sea level.

The guides were preparing the route to the summit for climbers. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us now.

Chad, what an awful story.

What kind of conditions are these climbers facing?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Ten degrees right now, Fahrenheit, winds at about 15 to 20 miles per hour. So not great. But certainly these icefalls, these avalanches -- they're more -- like we think of avalanches as snow coming down. These are honestly pieces of glacier, pieces of ice falling from high above these guys, right at the Khumbu Icefall. That's why it's called an icefall, because ice falls there.

It's been happening all week long, a lot of these, but this is the first time people actually got in the way of these icefalls. They're laying lines down. They're putting ropes up so that the climbers eventually in May can make their way up. They're bringing food and medicine and supplies up to these other camps so that when the climbers finally start going in that direction, there will be supplies for them.

Here's the Khumbu glacier, here's the Khumbu Icefall, as we move on up to camp. Here, this is -- honestly the steepness of these -- I did not change this at all, straight out of Google Earth Digital Globe, this is how steep the sides of the mountains are here. And as you slide right on up here, called Popcorn, called Khumbu icefall, here's Camp One, and the ice came right down on top of those guys there.

And there's still much, much more to go. That's one of the lower base camps.

Then you got to go to Camp Two, then Camp Three, then Four, then all the way up here, up to Hilary's right there, that spot way up there on top of Mt. Everest.

Now Mt. Everest goes up about two meters, about six feet every year just because of the movement, because of the earthquakes and all that pushing -- and the glaciers coming down and then the snow is on top. So this happens a lot. And this is the first time so many people have gotten in the way. LEMON: You know, they prepare for things like this, right, there are Sherpas, right, that's their expertise.

But can you really prepare for something like this?

MYERS: Not when you don't know that above up here where the icefall came from it's a ledge or it's loose or it's going to move down the hill because it got down the hill. And there were so many people in the camp that were missed. But all of these people that were already in the camp said that they saw dust and ice and snow flying and all of a sudden all these large, big pieces of ice -- just think about maybe like a six-foot boulder that would be an ice cube coming down this hill with such force and such trauma.

LEMON: Unbelievable. We've been covering such tragedies here. This one, of course, the one that's happening in South Korea, and then the one, you know, in the southern Indian Ocean. Unbelievable, Chad.

Chad, thank you very much. Have a good one. Happy Easter to you.

I'll see you soon. Thanks for watching, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Make sure you have a great holiday, whichever one you are celebrating. I'll see you back here next week. Wolf starts right now.