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Two Jets Shot Down In Eastern Ukraine; Russian troops Now Along Ukrainian Border; U.S. Extends Ban on Flights to Israel; Interview with Congressman Michael McCaul; Victim Remains Returned to Netherlands

Aired July 23, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news, two more planes shot down in Ukraine. A Pro-Russian group claims responsibility. Tonight, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States is OUTFRONT.

Plus, flights to and from Israel grounded, not flying due to fears of rocket attacks. Is the FAA overreacting?

And dozens killed today when a plane crash lands during a -- a plane crash happens during a typhoon. Should it have been flying in the first place? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. Two more planes shot down in Ukraine, just six days after the passenger jet carrying 298 people was shot down. Two more Ukrainian military jets were brought down by missiles not far from the Russian border.

I want to show you this video because it claims to show one of the military aircraft after it crashed. One of the pro-Russian groups says the two jets were shot down by rebel fighters using shoulder- mounted surface-to-air missiles. Ukrainian officials says the missiles were launched from inside Russia.

We're going to be talking to the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States about this in just a moment. But I want to begin in Ukraine. Phil Black is there with more on the two military downed jets. Phil, what can you tell us?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are two SU-25s, Erin. They are heavily armored, heavily armed. They fly low and attack close. In this case, the rebels say that they were knocked out of the sky by shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, but the Ukrainian government isn't buying it, because they say that these aircraft were flying at a much higher altitude, beyond the range of any sort of mobile missile system.

They've said they have some information, preliminary information, without being specific that suggests it could have been launched. These missiles could have been launched from across the border in Russia, which is quite a claim. What it is yet again, one incident, two very different stories in this conflict.

It shows a patent, if you like, because before the downing of MH-17, the Ukrainian -- the pro-Russian forces were shooting down Ukrainian aircraft. Now, six days after that Malaysia Airliner was knocked out of the sky, they are doing it again.

And it shows that the international outrage directed at the separatists because of the very strong suspicion that they were responsible for knocking out MH-17 has not deterred their willingness to attack Ukrainian air power -- Erin.

BURNETT: That is what's incredible, Phil. You think whether they did it or didn't do it, the last thing you would want to do right now would be to shoot two more planes out of the sky. They went ahead and did that and took credit for that. I know you've been at the crash site of MH-17 today. Is there progress there? We saw the incredibly moving memorial and funeral in the Netherlands. But where you are, there are still many missing bodies.

BLACK: Yes, it's a very different place to what it has been recently. Very eerie, very quiet, very low presence from militants. Not many emergency workers from the Ukrainian side either. Some journalists. We're told that Malaysian experts were on the ground there today in some of the locations across this wide area along with European monitors.

But there was not a lot of action to be seen at all. So it shows that there is still not a very large investigation underway, despite the fact there were other international experts in Ukraine. They haven't made it to Donetsk just yet. We've got the Malaysian experts on the ground. But it also means there is not an ongoing thorough search for bodies and remains.

And there is concern, internationally, that there could still be and are still further bodies and remains still to be discovered. But so far, there is no ongoing large scale effort to really search that surrounding farmland to ensure that all that can be found is found -- Erin.

BURNETT: Phil Black, thank you very much, reporting live from Ukraine tonight.

The finger-pointing between Russia, Ukraine, rebels, and the United States over who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is getting more complicated by the day. And the latest downed military jets only raise more questions.

Joining me OUTFRONT now, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Olexander Motsyk. Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I want to start with this issue of the two fighter jets today. Ukrainian officials say the missiles that shot down those two jets might have been launched from inside Russia. Obviously, if true, that would be a very, very significant development. Do you have evidence to back that up?

OLEXANDER MOTSYK, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR IN THE U.S.: According to preliminary information, really, the two Ukrainian jet fighters were shot down from the territory of the Russian Federation.

BURNETT: And is there any evidence as to how you were able to reach that conclusion?

MOTSYK: Well, these, what our military experts say for today.

BURNETT: So what type of missile do you believe was used?

MOTSYK: It was definitely not man pad. It was something more powerful and these were, most probably, more powerful missiles, which most probably are launched from Russian territory.

BURNETT: Let me ask you, Ambassador, if I could, about one other crucial allegation that your government, the Ukrainian government, has made, about MH-17, specifically. The Ukrainian spy chief on this program last night said the person who shot down the plane was a Russian officer.

That this officer was responsible for literally pushing the button on that BUK missile that ended up slaughtering 300 people. Russia denies it, U.S. intelligence officials say they can't confirm exactly who fired the missile. Do you have more details for us, as to why Ukraine is so sure it was a Russian?

MOTSYK: To fire from surface-to-air missile, it's not that easy. It's quite complicated thing. And it needs teamwork, at least of four persons. That's why yesterday, as you mentioned, the Ukrainian experts said that it might be Russian military men.

BURNETT: And before we go, you talk about the Ukrainian government, your government has said that the rebels boasted that they shot down a Ukrainian military jet before they realized it was a commercial plane, then they denied having anything to do with the crash at all. But this is a basic question. Were there Ukrainian military jets flying in the area of M-17 -- of MH-17 on that day?

MOTSYK: No, not immediately before, not during the crash, not immediately after the crash.

BURNETT: All right, Ambassador Motsyk, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us tonight.

MOTSYK: Thank you.

BURNETT: And joining me OUTFRONT, our military analyst, Lt. Col. Rick Francona, and our aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien. Miles, let me start with you. I asked the ambassador this about issue, were there any other military jets around MH-17 when it went down. And his answer was very specific, not immediately, but he didn't deny.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I would say he parsed some language there a little bit and there's some interpretation that we could place into that response. There's a simple way to settle this. Release the radar tapes. Secondary and primary, as well as the air traffic control tapes. The Ukrainians hold those. They were in charge of air traffic control at the time. It is reasonable for the world to ask for these, just as we asked for all of this in the wake of MH-370.

BURNETT: Because this would show up is what you're saying. If there was conversation with any other planes.

O'BRIEN: There might be air traffic control saying, there's a fighter in the vicinity. There might have been information from the crew of MH-17 saying, why is there a fighter on my wing? Who knows? But certainly the radar track information would tell you that. And probably the air traffic control communication may shed light as well.

BURNETT: And Colonel, the reason this is so important, this issue of whether there was a plane there is obviously whether there was anything, any possibility that it was a mistaken identity. So I guess the question would be, I know, Miles, there's a theory that you had said is out there, that a military plane may have seen a civilian plane sort of used that as cover. Is that something the Ukrainian military if they even were nearby would have been capable of doing, able to do?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Any pilot would do that, and you know this larger plane would merge into one. And as we talked the other night about the radar was not the most fine radar, so it would just appear as one blip. But Miles is right, the Ukrainians have to release these tapes, because all the commercial tracking data will not show military aircraft.

BURNETT: Which is a very important point. I did have a chance, I talked to him a little bit further earlier today, and he said that they have people from, you know, 200 different people coming into the country to help them look at these things. But it wasn't a sure, we're going to put it all out there.

O'BRIEN: I think we should demand it at this point. The world needs to know and this will settle a very important question here. It is reasonable to have these tapes in the public domain.

BURNETT: And what about this issue, Colonel, in terms of, again, confusion. Because the missiles that have been used, and in the recent takedowns of Ukrainian jets by rebels have not been BUKs. And now we've seen this BUK is now used MH-17. MH-17 is flying at 33,000 feet. These other Ukrainian military jets are flying significantly lower at 17,000 feet. First of all, could the human eye detect the difference between 17 and 33 from the ground?

FRANCONA: Probably, but you're dealing with two different sizes of aircraft, so it would look similar.

BURNETT: That's important. There could be theoretical confusion, but what about in terms of shooting it down? Why would you suddenly that day be using a BUK?

FRANCONA: Well, they had used the BUK before. The day before they shot one down. That had to have been a BUK. That could not have been a shoulder-fired missile and the ones today they were claiming were at 17,000 feet. And the president was right. They had to be BUKs. They could not be shoulder fired. The initial reports said they were shoulder fired. But it has to be the BUK. Now the question becomes, where were the BUKs? They were right on the border of the planes. So they could have come from Russia. BURNETT: What about this claim of these coming from Russia? That is a hugely explosive claim.

FRANCONA: Well, again, the radar information may shed a little bit of light on this. It's possible primary radar could pick this up and there are all kinds of spy satellites trained in this region that have infrared capability, which can trace these launches and pinpoint them. This is probably known in the halls of the intelligence community right now as we speak.

O'BRIEN: The radar signatures in that part of the world are collected almost completely. Remember, years ago, when we were fighting -- we had the cold war, the Soviet Union, they were the focus of all of our intelligence collection.


O'BRIEN: Now our great collection today is a by-product of that. So where has you don't have coverage of the Indian Ocean. We do have coverage of this part of Europe.

BURNETT: Right, which is obviously, you picked the Indian Ocean for a reason. They weren't looking for that missing plane, but certainly would have seen everything that happened here. Thanks very much to both of you.

And OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, as many as 15,000 Russian troops are now along the Ukrainian border and they are armed. Why? What is Vladimir Putin planning?

Plus sirens heard at Israel's main airport today? American flights to and from the country are grounded. Is the FAA overreacting?

And dozens dead when a plane crashed in bad weather during an emergency landing. How could this happen right now? Should this plane have been in the air in the first place?


BURNETT: Breaking news. U.S. officials telling CNN that up to 15,000 soldiers, along with tanks and rocket launchers are now along the Ukrainian border and these are Russian troops. Their sights potentially set on the skies.

Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon with the latest.

And Barbara, at a time when you'd think that the Russians and Russian rebels might want somehow to at least give the optics of being quiet for a bit, they seem to be doing the opposite. What are you learning about the Russian troops, what they're doing, where they are?


You know, we talk about this all the time. Any signs the Russian military is behaving like it is part of a community of nations, well, again, today, no, not at all. In fact, what U.S. intelligence sources are telling me is that some of those troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, on the Russian side, have now moved in smaller groups, right up to the border. Less than five miles, some of them sitting right on the border.

Why might they be doing this? The U.S. believes most likely, it is because they could now fire their weapons, their artillery, their surface-to-air missiles, their tank craft. They can fire it from just across the Russian border, could contend that they are in Russia still, have some plausible deniability say they're not involved in whatever's going on. This sort of gives them that cover.

At the same time, the U.S. intelligence is gathering information that some of the pro-Russian forces, the rebels, inside eastern Ukraine have now escaped across the border, back into Russia, even as Russia continues to send heavy weapons into Ukraine for them to use. So this is becoming really a hair trigger situation, Erin.

BURNETT: Ratcheting up instead of pulling back.

Barbara, thank you very much.

And you know, despite the growing accusations and the intelligence that Russia could be to blame for the rocket attack that killed 298 people, the Russian president remains outwardly defiant.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Ukraine.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just hour after flight 17 was shot down, killing all 298 aboard, Russian president Vladimir Putin squarely pointed the blame at Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The state over which territory had happened is responsible for this terrible tragedy.

LAH: Putin's lieutenants fanned out, pushing the narrative that Ukraine's offensive in eastern Ukraine laid the groundwork. And a Russian state media outlandish theories, like this one, that Putin's presidential plane and the Malaysian airliner are look similar. So the Ukrainians shot it down in an assassination attempt.

Even as evidence mounted that the pro-Russian fighters brought down the plane and global outrage grew, Putin tried to appear pious, photographed praying at an orthodox church. The Russian president continuing his drum beat, blaming Ukraine and its western backers.

PUTIN (through translator): No one should and no one has the right to use this tragedy to achieve their own selfish political goals. These events should not divide, but unite people.

LAH: But behind the scenes, Putin has fueled the divide. A NATO military official tells CNN, Putin has been secretly adding to the arming of the pro-Russian rebels. In the days after the plane crash, NATO says, Russian artillery,

tanks, and military personnel are surging across the border into Ukraine. The U.S. and other western countries are calling for stringent sanctions against Russia, perhaps the reason behind a more conciliatory tone from Putin in his last public statement.

PUTIN (through translator): There are calls for us to influence the militants. We will do everything in our power.

LAH: But with two military jets just shot down, that influence appears to be anything but for peace.


LAH: Putin's next move, unknown. Years of the globe dealing with them, he's proven to be unpredictable and defiant. And with Ukraine's long hatred of him, this will do nothing but drive a wedge further between them -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kyung Lah, thank you very much. Live in Kiev tonight.

Well, Putin's money and his power, that has much of Europe thinking twice about, well, whether they're really going to go after him, whether they're really going to up those sanctions. There's a lot of talk when his plane first went down and some may be backing off.

Fareed Zakaria is host of "FRAREED ZAKARIA GPS." He is OUTFRONT tonight.

Fareed, the president in the United States is facing pressure, Democrats and Republicans to really apt the ante, but the United States can only do so much because it's not one of the main treaty partners with Russia. I mean, Germany, as you know, biggest trading partner with Russia. Thirty six percent of its natural gas, almost 40 percent of its oil comes from Russia. If you're German and you put horrible sanctions on Russia and they retaliate, your people are going to be really mad this winter.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Well, and it's not Germany, it's just one perfect example. So Germany, as you say, would literally not be able to heat their homes. Remember, Chancellor Merkel just said no nuclear. Because after Fukushima, she said, we're going off nuclear. So that means an even greater dependence on natural gas.

The Netherlands is Russia's second largest trade partner. The Rotterdam is the place that imports more Russian oil than any place else in the world. They import it, they refined it, and then they sell it.

Shell, you know, which is the big Dutch company, kind of the iconic company, has huge investments in Russia.

So the Europeans have over the last decade, as Russia has grown as an oil company. They have gotten themselves so intermeshed, it's very tough for them to do it. And the Netherlands itself is a perfect case study. The U.S. is a country that has suffered its own 9/11. And they -- they condemn the Russians right now.

BURNETT: And that is incredible.

Now, there is also a lot of criticism being heaped on France. Because France is going with a major salable worse. And Russia, obviously, is a huge arms exporter. There's some things they need. One of them is something France makes very well, these warships. And they're going ahead with it. And Halam (ph) hasn't backed up. And our Richard Roth asked the French ambassador to the U.N. about the deal. You just have to hear this to believe it.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why is France still selling military craft to Russia? The U.S. says it shouldn't happen, neither do the British.

GERARD ARAUD, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Why the Russian oligarchs are still living in London and making money there?


BURNETT: And he walked away from the camera. All right.

ZAKARIA: But this is who is on first routine.


ZAKARIA: But you know, what happens is, the French and the Germans say, we want sanctions. Let's do financial sanctions, which would hit the city of London. London says, let's do energy sanctions, which would hit the Germans. So everyone is saying, there's a British official quoted as saying, the pain must be felt equally. In other words, we're not going to take the lead on sanctions. Everyone has a -- well, that means --

BURNETT: And it's never going to happen. Because -- I mean, by the way, looking at Russia, there was a story today, maybe ten percent of the real estate market goes to Russians in London. And I mean, you've got, Roman Bromovich is worth $15 million. He is not even the richest Russian who has a home in London. I mean, look at this, $20.6 billion for Lavotnick. London doesn't want to give these guys.

ZAKARIA: You know what? Apparently what's happening is the British are even gaining a market share as the capital flight takes risk because there is a lot of capital leaving Russia. There are a lot people --

BURNETT: Tight. The oligarchs are worried about sanctions.

ZAKARIA: In the British Canary Islands. So, it's going to British dominions.

BURNETT: That is unbelievable.

ZAKARIA: So even with the panic, the British are doing well. BURNETT: And everybody picks on Europe, but what about -- and the

other thing, Russia exports not just oil and gas, but of course, his arms and weapons. So I looked up who are the biggest buyers of Russian weapons -- India and China. I think it's safe to say, China is not going to have anything to do with any kind of sanctions and what about it? I mean, so there's that --

ZAKARIA: And have always had it very close. I think 80 percent of Indian arms come from Russia. Another country to look at that hasn't criticized or condemned Russia, very interestingly, is Israel. Remember, it has a Russian-born foreign minister, Lieberman. There are over a million and a half Russian (INAUDIBLE). They have been forging closer ties.

So you know, if you notice, remember, this is different from Iran and Syria. Russia is a big global power. It has a U.N. veto. It has its tentacles all over the world and lots of countries are putting their national interests over international or humanitarian interests.

BURNETT: Right. Just fascinating. The money is what talks. Fareed, thank you.

And still to come, U.S. flights to and from Israel grounded after a rocket attack. Are airplanes in American skies also at risk? An OUTFRONT investigation.

Plus, almost 50 people dead as a plane crashes during a hurricane. Why was that plane flying in the first place?


BURNETT: Breaking news. Sirens going off in Israel as a rocket got dangerously close to the country's main airport.

Tonight, the U.S. government extending a ban on all flights to and from the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv from the United States. Officials say there's still a threat. Yesterday, a rocket launch by Hamas in Gaza struck just a mile away from the airport. Israel insists, though, it's still safe to fly.

Atika Shubert is OUTFRONT tonight live from Ben Gurion airport.

And Atika, I know there were sirens that you were hearing going off earlier. What happened threaten and is it still so quiet there now?

ATRIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's quiet at the moment, but earlier we did hear sirens. I saw a rocket interception just above Tel Aviv. And this is pretty much a regular occurrence here. People are very calmly go to shelters whenever they hear the sirens go off. And they would do come very close, in fact, north of the airport.

So, what's happening now is that you got 80 flights today cancelled. Groups of passengers now are being stranded. Many of them having to bus it three hours from here to get a military airport, which has just been opened to let them fly out. But obviously, it's got a lot of people very angry here.

BURNETT: And, Atika, why are they keeping the ban in effect?

SHUBERT: Well, the short answer is because the rockets still keep coming. There is no cease-fire yet, so until that happens, the rockets are still continuing to hit pretty close to the airport. But even if the FAA does eventually are lift its ban, individual U.S. air carriers may decide not to come here. So, it doesn't mean, even if the ban is lifted, everything is solved. Delta, United, and US Airways will each look and monitor the situation and could come up with a different decision.

BURNETT: All right. Atika, thank you very much.

And Atika was just mentioning, worries about airline safety are mounting tonight. The rockets in Israel coupled with two more planes shot down over Ukraine today. It was unclear what sort of missile that they used, could have been shoulder-fired. This comes less than a week after the horrific incident with MH17.

These incidents are raising new questions about the safety of planes in the United States as well, and whether American fliers are at risk.

Polo Sandoval is OUTFRONT.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what happens when a shoulder-fired missile is launched at a jumbo jet.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), U.S. ARMY: You could probably train someone, a non-operator, to fire a shoulder-fired weapon within three or four hours.

SANDOVAL: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling has firsthand knowledge. He watched the crew of a crippled cargo plane make an emergency landing in Baghdad in 2003. The Airbus 300 was on its final approach when it was hit by an insurgent missile.

In 2002, a separate attempt to bring down a plane with a similar weapon. This time, the target was an Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombasa, Kenya.

Here in the U.S., New Jersey authorities in 2003 thwarted a plot by three men to smuggle in missiles capable of bringing down a jetliner.

HERTLING: They are heat seeking, so they go after usually the engines, because they are so accurate. As long as they point, shoot, and get the right tones out of the seeker, they'll be able to hit whatever they're aiming at.

SANDOVAL: Planes are most vulnerable during takeoffs and landings. That's within the 15,000-foot range of these shoulder-fired missiles. Their portability and size making them hard to track. Some weigh as little as 28 pounds.

While the threat remains real, experts believe the likelihood of an actual attack is limited.

HERTLING: I think the safety procedures in a typical American airport, not in a war zone, are adequate. And they are very protective of the passengers onboard.

SANDOVAL: But the downing of MH17 and now the concerns over rockets fired at planes landing in Israel are keeping passengers who are already on edge even more alert.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Los Angeles.


BURNETT: Now, OUTFRONT tonight, CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien along with Richard Quest.

All right. Miles, we just heard Polo's piece. Do these shoulder- fired missiles pose a threat to U.S. airliners?

O'BRIEN: The short answer is yes.

And, you know, a lot of people have been watching this for a long time, particularly since 9/11, have been rather incredulous that there hasn't been a successful attack. We had, of course, 2002 when an Israeli airline was fired at in Mombasa, didn't strike. Years later, that DHL aircraft that we saw on the piece was struck, but landed safely.

Since that time, no successful effort or attempt that we know have has occurred with these shoulder-fired rockets.

BURNETT: And, Richard, let me ask you, because when we talk about the distances here, most people can think of their own airport, and there's usually a pull-in place, where you can pull-in, if you're an airport aficionado and you can watch planes land. And you have these very slow, predictable descents with highways right along them. It would seem that -- it would seem too easy.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Right, and I -- at this point, I need to put the Israeli point, in a sense to counter what Miles was saying. Israel was basically saying, yes, we know all of that. And we know there's a potential threat. But the Iron Dome mechanism, the system, protects the airport, the approaches, and therefore, that missile that you're talking about, a mile from the runway, we let it land there. It wasn't a threat, is what -- that's the Israeli argument.

BURNETT: But what about in the United States? There is no protection in the United States, there is no Iron Dome. There is no nothing.

O'BRIEN: Well, this is Mayor Bloomberg's point, that it's probably less safe here because none of this exists here. And that's an interesting argument. It's just that you don't have Hamas right next to LAX firing off what amounts to --

BURNETT: But you would have terrorists who would want to use -- O'BRIEN: Of course, of course. And that's the concern and that is

the risk, and that is what aviation has been focused on for so long. And that's why, with MH-17, why so many people, it was outside of their knowledge base, at that altitude. We all assumed shoulder- fired, low altitude, near an airport.

QUEST: I have to tell you, I was filming for CNN business traveler at all the major airports in New York. Barely was the camera out of the car.

O'BRIEN: Well, that is true.

QUEST: And the police had arrived. And we were doing something innocently, just doing some general filming on a leisure piece.

BURNETT: What you're saying, it may not seem as if --

QUEST: Oh, I promise you, there are cameras watching every part of the airport.

O'BRIEN: The scary part, though, is you can get to be pretty far up, away from the airport, and the airplane will be low enough.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you this question, Miles. A former FBI counterterrorism agent, Tim Clemente, regular on this show, says, eventually, all planes will be equipped with anti-missile technology, which surprised me when he said this because, you know, he said, look, 9/11 -- before 9/11, you could walk through security with knives, you could walk through with shoes. All those things have changed.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but it's so prohibitively expensive right now. It's on the order of $3 million per airplane, that's just the down payment, and there's a maintenance component to it.

BURNETT: And pilot training.

O'BRIEN: Pilot training. Although the system, that system that is on the El Al aircraft, the pilots don't have to do anything. It's all automatic, as far as releasing those flares. But there's a lot of concern that the flare technology may not be the absolute silver bullet that we had hoped for in this case. It may not work.

BURNETT: Well, that's a very key point, then, Richard.

O'BRIEN: Oh, absolutely! A, it may not work. B, it requires certain evasive maneuvers by the pilot. C, it's very expensive. D, it's an extremely expensive and difficult to maintain. It's not going to happen.

O'BRIEN: E, it won't happen. That's right.


BURNETT: Well, until -- maybe that is until something happens to a plane, at some point, and then something will happen, because people won't want to fly. O'BRIEN: It's a big number.

BURNETT: All right. I want to go to one other key story today. There was another plane crash today, which was a shocking one. A plane trying to land during massive storms, for those of you are getting caught on the story. It crashed on a small island. Officials fear that dozens are dead.

Now, this plane reportedly slammed into a residential building near Taiwan's west coast. Witnesses described seeing homes on fire, as you can see, this happened during the dark, so they're not sure exactly how many people may have been killed, whether there were any survivors.

The flight was delayed, though, because of a typhoon or a hurricane. Why would a, you know, would a -- should they have been flying under these conditions?

QUEST: Not only was it delayed --

BURNETT: More than 50 people lost their lives.

QUEST: Not only was it delayed, but it was also on a missed approach. So, it was doing a go-around when the accident happened. And I'm -- as you know, Miles, I'm the first person to say, let's wait for the details. But there's sufficient -- there's sufficient about the weather, that we have to put that as the first big piece of the jigsaw on the table.

O'BRIEN: Low visibility, very high winds, thunderstorms in the area, a go-around, which is a maneuver that takes some practice and is difficult in those conditions. Could have been a microburst, could have been just the crew got disoriented, as they were trying to get the plane back on alignment.

I am told that the weather reporting capability had been knocked out by storm itself. So, it appears that the crew was dispatched without even knowing the weather of the location at the other end. So that's pilot error.

O'BRIEN: This is going to be miles' classic chain of causation -- one thing to the next to the next, to the next. And God forbid, you end up with an accident.

BURNETT: Thanks to both of you.

And still to come, those flights to and from Israel grounded tonight after rocket fire. Good call or overreaction?

And a dramatic outpouring of emotion in the Netherlands today. Thousands of people lined the streets of the first of the Flight 17 victims are returned home.


BURNETT: Breaking news: U.S. government extending its ban on all flights to and from Israel's main airport in Tel Aviv. Officials say it's too risky, the threat is too high, this after a rocket launched by Hamas in Gaza struck a mile away from Ben Gurion Airport.

The FAA announcement drew immediate criticism though from Senator Ted Cruz who said, and I want to quote him directly, "President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign policy demands."

OUTFRONT tonight, the chairman of the House Homeland Committee, Congressman Michael McCaul.

Chairman McCaul, good to have you with us.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Hey. Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: What do you think about what Ted Cruz had to say?

MCCAUL: Look, I put the safety of Americans on carriers flying anywhere in the world, I put their safety first. The fact is that Hamas is to blame for the violence in the rockets being fired. But the fact also is that one of these rockets hit just a mile away from the airport.

So I think the FAA is being precautionary, putting American lives and their safety first, and I think it's -- I think it's the right step to do. It will be reviewed on a 24-hour basis, so the next 24 hours, they'll look at conditions on the ground and decide what to do from there.

But the fact is, Hamas has 6,000 of these rockets that can -- and the range is far beyond Tel Aviv. So I think that's the concern from a safety standpoint, with respect to American carriers flying into Israel.

BURNETT: And, you know, as you know, it's a contentious decision. I mean, the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, flew on El-Al, the Israeli carrier, as a show of solidarity, probably has business interests there as well, so he has a personal stake in it, most likely. But he spoke to our Wolf Blitzer earlier and said restrictions on the flights are a mistake.

And I want to play explicitly what he said about the FAA for you, Chairman.



MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: They make airlines and airports safe in America, but not as safe as Ben Gurion and El-Al are. And the fact that one rocket falls far away from this airport, a mile away, doesn't mean you should shut down air traffic into a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So, I mean, he makes an argument that a mile away is not very far away, and that the airports there are safer than the airports in the United States. Does he have a point? Did the FAA overreact?

MCCAUL: I don't think they overreacted. Look, we've already seen one Malaysian carrier with civilians that got shot down with 300 passengers onboard. And I think we're taking precautionary measures to make sure that doesn't happen.

But I do think that 24-hour review is important. I know that the FAA is in close consultation with the Israeli government, on an hourly basis, to see what the conditions is, and that could possibly change in the next day or two. And frankly, I hope it does.

But let's not forget who's to blame here for this. And that's Hamas, who is not -- you know, this Egyptian cease-fire agreement, the Israelis were willing to concede to that and have a cease-fire, and Hamas, actually, flagrantly, you know, thumbed their nose at that agreement.

So, I think the pressure is on Hamas now to do a cease-fire, stop firing these rockets in, and I do think the FAA did the right thing in this case.

BURNETT: The FAA did the right thing, and you made that clear. Just to make sure I understand. I know you obviously disagree with what Senator Ted Cruz said. But he does say the president used the FAA to launch an economic boycott to force Israel to do things that he wants them to do.

I mean, there's nothing about that -- is there anything about that, to you, that is fair? To imply the president himself was involved in this? Anything?

MCCAUL: Look, I would like to see this ban lifted, as soon as possible. But my first and foremost concern as chairman of homeland security is the safety of American lives, flying on airplanes.


MCCAUL: And if there's a determination, because a rocket landed a mile away from an airport in Tel Aviv, I think that's a concern that must be addressed.

BURNETT: And, Chairman, you've said that in terms of the MH17 crisis, which no doubt is a big reason why the FAA was so quick to react, why Delta was so quick to turn its plane around, because of that rocket. You've said Russian president Vladimir Putin is responsible for that tragedy.

Senator Lindsey Graham is calling for unilateral sanctions to cripple the Russian economy, which may be difficult to do, as we've been reporting, because the United States is not the most important trading partner of Russia.

But I wanted to play for you exactly what Senator Graham said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want the Russian people to feel pain in response to the pain they've caused. The way to get to Putin is to basically make the Russian people pay a price for supporting this guy. They're part of the problem, as far as I'm concerned.


BURNETT: I mean, that was pretty explicit. He didn't use the word "Russian people" and not mean it. He used it and said they're part of the problem.

I mean, do you agree the Russian people are partly to blame and the only way to make anything happen here is to make the actual people of Russia suffer?

MCCAUL: Well, I think Putin is responsible. Look, Erin, I've seen the imagery. It's very clear that this sophisticated weaponry came from Russia into Ukraine. They armed these rebel forces with these weapon systems. They trained them -- obviously, not very well. They're not very sophisticated. And they downed, you know, a civilian airline and killed 300 people.

So I do think, I think this is a game changer in this conflict. And I do think we need to take swift action against Russia on this.

First and foremost, a cease-fire in the region, but as you had in your program earlier, there were Russian troops going up to the border of Ukraine now. I think a cease-fire would be appropriate and I think Putin needs to stop arming these rebel separatists and stop training them, because it's just completely irresponsible.

The last thing is the crude oil ban would go a long way towards making Ukraine and Europe more independent from Russian energy, which is strangling them right now. And I have a bill to lift that ban, so we could export that from the United States, which would actually help our own economy, and I think create jobs in the United States.

BURNETT: All right. Chairman McCaul, thank you very much. An interesting angle on this. Of course, the United States would be one of the largest energy providers in the world if the United States was allowed to so much of the excess oil and gas that's being produced here.

Still to come, an emotional tribute to the victims of Flight 17. Thousands of people lining the streets in the Netherlands today for what was truly a heart-stopping honoring of those victims as they returned home.


BURNETT: Some of the victims of Flight 17 are finally closer to resting in peace. Forty coffins today arrived in the Netherlands, restoring a small bit of dignity six days after the Boeing 777 went down. It was hard to watch but impossible not to watch.


BURNETT: Thousands lined the streets as hearses traveled, not to a final resting place but actually to a forensic lab for identification. A Dutch official says 74 more coffins will be flown to the Netherlands tomorrow.

Our Saima Mohsin was there.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A moment in time when no other plane landed in the Netherlands. Planes circled the skies, buses stopped on roads, trains on their tracks, giving those on board Flight MH17 a safe passage towards their final resting spot.

They landed to the sound of the trumpet call, as across the country a day of national mourning cast a shadow of silence. In the silence, resounded an amalgam of emotions, pain, anguish, confusion, anger.

But most of all, this silence symbolized the victim's right to dignity and respect. They were given the highest of honors as the Dutch monarchy, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, alongside dignitaries from all the countries MH17 passengers came from stood to receive them. Flags flying at half staff. Their families and loved ones weren't film, given privacy for their unimaginable grief.

(on camera): An extraordinary amount of calm enveloped which is what usually an incredibly busy military base and airport here at Eindhoven as these planes brought the first of 298 passengers from Flight MH17 on their journey home, as their families looked on not knowing which of their loved ones will be on board.

(voice-over): Caught in a battle between two countries, not one passenger came from. They have finally begun their journey home. One by one, they were taken away in hearses. Local people turned out to pay their respects, some showering the procession with flower petals as they made their way to their next destination, Hilversum Base, where they will finally be given a name, an identity to eventually be laid to rest.

Saima Mohsin, CNN, Eindhoven.


BURNETT: We'll be right back.


BURNETT: A story eerily similar to Flight 17, only in this case, it was the United States Navy responsible. An Iranian passenger plane with 290 innocent people on board was mistaken for a fighter jet and shot down by the U.S. Navy. It was in 1988. And at the time, the U.S. government refused to apologize. It's an incredible story and very relevant in light of what is

happening now. It's tomorrow OUTFRONT.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson is next.