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New Metal Object Found on French Beach; Manhunt Underway for Memphis Cop Killer; 20 Massive Wildfires Burn Across California; Aired 6-6:30p ET

Aired August 2, 2015 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:09] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We're following two big breaking news stories right now. The Malaysian government makes it official. Plane debris found on that Reunion Island beach does belong to the Boeing 777, that as another metal object related to the search has been found.


TONY ARMSTRONG, MEMPHIS POLICE DIRECTOR: We were talking about from what we know now a routine traffic stop, and that really results in an officer losing his life. The suspect is still at large and officers are in the area attempting to locate him at this time.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We're also following breaking news in Memphis, a manhunt this morning for the person who gunned down a police officer during a traffic stop.

Good morning. We've got a lot to get to. I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: And I'm Christi Paul. So grateful to have your company as always.

We want to begin with breaking news in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. So glad this metal of object -- this metal object of interest is how it's being characterized. It's been found on Reunion Island. There is the picture. You can see there are some markings, illustrations there as well, that are being examined.

This is the first image that we're getting of that object. And CNN is continuing to get information from a local government official there. But a source tells us the origin of this debris is what still needs to be verified. But take a good look there. Everybody I'm sure has an opinion about what they think it could be. Some of that mangled metal but again as we zoom in there you can see some markings that could help identify it.

BLACKWELL: And we'll talk about those in just a moment. We're also learning this morning that a piece of an aircraft wing that washed up on the island has officially now been identified as part of a Boeing 777 aircraft. Again this is the flaperon, that we're talking about you see on your screen here. That idea is coming from French authorities. The NTSB and Malaysian teams as well.

Now Flight 370 which vanished 17 months ago with 239 people aboard was, as you know, a 777 aircraft. The wing debris is now at a French laboratory in Toulouse after arriving yesterday. You see it here under police guard.

We are covering both of these developments this morning. We've got Saima Mohsin in Toulouse where that analysis will begin soon. We've got Erin McLaughlin on Reunion Island.

And, Erin, I want to start with you. Tell us as much as you know about this metal object of interest.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. It was found on a beach not far from here in St. Denis, about 11 and a half miles away from where they had picked up the original piece of debris. AFP, a news agency releasing a photo of the object which shows a twisted piece of metal with Chinese characters on it. It appears that it could be some sort of brand name inscribed on the metal.

Now a team of some eight police officers were out on that beach earlier today to pick it up. But so far being very tightlipped as to what it could be, saying simply it's a metal object of interest that they're investigating further. Refusing to speculate if this could in any way be tied to MH-370.

BLACKWELL: There are reports that people on this island have said that they saw wreckage and debris potentially months ago. Have you been hearing anymore about that? Any anecdotal stories about other things having washed up over the last 17 months?

MCLAUGHLIN: You know, we have been hearing those stories, but we've been so far unable to verify them. A local radio station has been absolutely inundated with calls from locals saying they believe they found parts of a plane. We know that there are teams of volunteers out scouring the beaches. We're talking about curiosity seekers, people who genuinely want to help solve this mystery.

And Malaysian authorities are asking authorities here for help as well, saying that if they find any piece of debris to help investigate it, potentially tying it to MH-370 because each piece of debris is potentially a clue, not only to where the wreckage may be, but also to how the plane possibly came down.

BLACKWELL: All right. Erin McLaughlin there, on Reunion Island. Thank you so much, Erin.

PAUL: Want to bring in CNN's Saima Mohsin now. It is confirmed, again, that this debris is from a Boeing 777. That is the latest there. But what else are your hearing there, Saima?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christi. It is confirmed by the Malaysian Transportation Ministry. Right. They've released a statement just this morning that they have got -- they have received the 777. They must have looked at the dimensions of it. They must have looked at that flaperon in great detail and analyzed it.

[06:05:02] And there were, remember, two serial numbers or perhaps not serial numbers. There were two distinctive numbers that they collected from it and had a look at that. And that is likely how these groups got together. It was the United States National Transportation Safety Board. It was the French authorities and Boeing and Malaysian authorities.

Now Malaysian authorities, it's a considerable team. It's a civil aviation authority, a specific investigation team that covers MH-370 itself and Malaysia Airlines. Now they have confirmed that it is a flaperon from a 777 aircraft. But that isn't to say that it's from MH-370 specifically. But they will be coming here to this lab, run by the French Ministry of Defense. It's a highly technical lab with a lot of forensic expertise that can look into whether -- and confirm whether this potentially did come from MH-370.

Now of course there was another piece that was delivered to France as well yesterday. Now that is a piece believed to be a piece of suitcase. That was delivered to a lab in Paris or just outside. It's run by the National Police. It's the Criminal Research Institute. That is being analyzed as well.

Now this morning in an interview with the Australia press, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia has said he believes it is less likely that that has any relation to MH-370 and the reason he's saying that is that it doesn't have any kind of marine life. You'll remember that the piece that is now confirmed to be a flaperon from a 777 aircraft had a lot of barnacles attached to it, telling the story it was in the sea or the ocean for a very long time.

There had been marine life growing on it. Well, this piece hasn't. But it is being DNA tested. Now that is a standard operating procedure for any kind of investigation like this. And they will have collected DNA from family members of the passengers on board Flight MH-370 and now they'll go through that verification process -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Saima Mohsin, so appreciate the update. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We have with us now aviation expert Julian Bray joining us via Skype.

Julian, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: You've seen that picture that we showed at the top of the broadcast and let's put that back up guys as soon as we have it available, of this metal object of interest. When you see this, can you identify this as some part of a plane? Or does any element here, any characteristic stand out?

BRAY: Unfortunately I'm on a different circuit use. I can't physically see that picture. But I've seen another representation of it. And it could well be from our subject aircraft. But there again, first of all, we have to establish the aircraft type. If it is from the 777, that is one more piece in the jigsaw. And then they have to definitively make sure it came from this particular aircraft.

And that is the big leap they're all going to have to do. And that is why they're going to start, well, on the flaperon first of all. I understand they're going to start on Wednesday. They're going to into closed meetings on Monday and Tuesday because there has to be a magistrate present during the initial stages of examining the evidence.

BLACKWELL: Now you've seen these characters, you've seen the picture that we have on air now. Frankly there are few pictures. It looks like right now there's just the one, the close-up of this element.

Do you see the -- or have you seen those characters? Do you recognize those? I mean, we've heard from Erin McLaughlin that those might be instructions or a brand name. But when you see those characters, do those indicate anything for you?

BRAY: Well, let's put it like this, you've got to remember that it's been in the sea a long time. And so you can't actually read it. So it could be -- but the point is you want it to be definitive. So there's a big question mark. So what they will try and do is they will actually scrape away at the surface very, very gently. They'll use various solvents in order to get through to the substrate where all the prints will be.

It can be done. So forensically they can get down, they can actually reveal all the words and characters. And that will give them a clear indication as to where it came from. And there are amazing reports coming out this morning. I think it was a few days ago on CNN we suggested that there should be more than just one piece of debris washed up. And what do we get? We get other pieces of debris almost immediately.


BRAY: So quite amazing. CNN ahead of the game.

BLACKWELL: That has been the great mystery of this incident. We won't call it a crash just yet, but this incident over the last 17 months that there has been no debris. Now the confirmation that that flaperon was from a 777.

[06:10:04] And, you know, Julian, we've heard over the last several days from sources, from the investigative side, from the Boeing element of this investigation, that they identified that this was likely part of a 777. But when you get to small parts like this object of interest, how complicated is the confirmation that this is part of a 777? I'd imagine that many of these parts are used in many different models.

BRAY: Yes. Not only that. They're also manufactured in many different countries. For example, I don't know if you're aware that in Bangalore, they're actually making flaperons on behalf of Boeing and they've been doing it since 2004. So one time we thought well, could it be a reject that somehow found its way into the ocean? Should have gone for recycling but somebody took it home, decided they didn't know what to do with it, tossed it into the ocean and it's been washed up.

But the fact we've now got other bits coming forward might suggest -- and there's a big might there -- that this could be the mother lode of all the debris that we need to see. But I understand that the search pattern at the moment is still retaining its original sector.


BRAY: Off of Australia. So they've got to sort of beef this up so they can actually move the search nearer to the island.

BLACKWELL: And we're also getting this from Malaysian authorities. They've announced that they're reaching out to authorities in territories within the vicinity of Reunion Island to allow for experts to conduct more substantive analysis should more debris surface.

Julian Bray, thank you so much. Our aviation expert joining us. We'll talk more throughout the morning about -- hopefully we're going to learn more about as it's being called, metal object of interest.

Thanks -- Christi.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

We want to get you some other breaking that we're following out of Tennessee this morning because there is a desperate manhunt underway right now for whoever shot and killed a police officer in Memphis there in what should have been, we're told, a routine traffic stop. So officers right now mourning the death of 33-year-old Sean Bolton. He died late last night. And this of course as they hunt for his killer.

Nick Valencia, following the story.

Nick, what are police saying to you?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. This is a tragic situation in the city of Memphis. As you mentioned, an active search underway right now for whoever is responsible for the fatal shooting of a police officer in Memphis overnight, 33-year-old Sean Bolton was the office who was shot and killed. He is been reported to have been shot multiple times during a traffic stop.

It has been reported that it was a citizen who used that officer's radio to notify police that one of their own had been shot. Last night the police director of the Memphis Police Department told the media that this is a tragedy.


ARMSTRONG: At approximately 9:18 p.m. communications was alerted by a citizen through one of our officers' radios that officer had been shot in the area of Perkins and Cotton Wood. Officers arrived on the scene. They located the PD officer who had been shot on what appeared to be a traffic stop. The officer was transported to -- here to Regional Med in critical condition but later pronounced deceased due to multiple gunshot wounds.

The suspect is still at large and officers are in the area attempting to locate him at this time. We've been here before. Sadly to say we've been here before. This is my third time in the four years that I've been the director. And it doesn't get any easier.


VALENCIA: Three police officers shots in the last four years. The mayor of Memphis also addressing the public last night, saying that they're using all resources whoever was responsible for this -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. But, Nick, again, just to reiterate, we don't have any description of a suspect?

VALENCIA: Well, during that press conference last night the police director alluded to saying we will find him, but officially police have not come out to the media and said any description of the suspect. Again this is active underway right now this morning in the city of Memphis -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Good to know.

Nick Valencia, checking back with you throughout the morning, obviously. But thank you so much.

VALENCIA: You bet.

BLACKWELL: Hundreds of people evacuated from areas as wildfires continue to rage in parts of California. You've got the dry conditions there that have plagued the state for years now, they're of course fuelling these flames.

Plus, while you were sleeping, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey took to the Octagon. It wasn't much of your sleep. She only needed a few seconds. We'll tell you how this fight ended. I guess I just did. We'll tell you more in just a moment.


[06:18:02] BLACKWELL: Seventeen minutes after the hour. We're monitoring the developing situation in California this morning. Those wildfires, they're continuing to grow and strengthen. And new this morning, at least 20 massive wildfires are burning across the state. The Rocky Fire, and we've got some video of that one, is one of the biggest, only 5 percent contained. Burned already more than 27,000 acres and forced officials to enforce mandatory evacuations this morning.

Roughly 9,000 firefighters have been battling this potentially deadly fire. I say potentially even considering that one firefighter has already been killed. They've added a thousand firefighters in just the space of a day. And as the governor's state of emergency remains in effect, lightning strikes on this drought plagued region. They continue to ignite new fires.

Ivan Cabrera is here with the latest. This just is not letting up, Ivan.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, it's not letting up. And in fact you've made a good point there. We've actually have some spot fires that developed over the last several days because of those lightning strikes. And again the stage is set here for California the last 40 years. 71 percent of the state under extreme drought, 46 percent under exceptional drought. And in those areas that is where we're fighting the fires.

The one particularly concerned about right now to the north of San Francisco, but as you mentioned, we're working 20 major fires. We're seeing hundreds across California, but the ones we're concerned about across -- about 80 miles to the north of San Francisco, that is the Lake County Fire, that is the Rocky Fire. That is the one that is consumed yesterday 18,000 acres, now we're up to 27,000 acres. So they are not having a handle on this. And in fact the containment remains at 5 percent. And over 6,000 structures remain a threat in here.

Let's talk about the fire season here in California. It just continues to get worse. Take a look at 1980 to 1989. We only had about 140 fires per year. That jumps to 160 at 1999, in the 90s, and then now we're up to 250 and it will likely go up because of the recent drought conditions. And again the forecast not looking good over the next few days.

[06:20:06] Temperatures hot, Victor, with highs in the 90s and those gusty winds through the afternoon would could set more spot fires. And in addition to that, as you mentioned, those lightning strikes as well. We will have some thunderstorms close, not good enough to put the fires out with rain, but close enough to provide us with additional threats from lightning.

BLACKWELL: Hoping for some relief for those families and the firefighters out there.

CABRERA: Could be long.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ivan, thank you so much.

PAUL: Well, Ronda Rousey struggled in her latest MMA match. That's the verbiage they were using. The champ's fight lasting longer than her last two combined. Here's the thing. The last two, they were just 30 seconds. So we'll tell you what happened.

Also drama at the funeral for Bobbi Kristina Brown. As the feud between the family of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston really seemed to take on a new level yesterday.

Also, we're working on some breaking news here. Another object found off the shores of Reunion Island. And people wondering if this could be more debris from MH-370. We're going to have a live report in just a couple of minutes for you. Stay close.


PAUL: 24 minutes past the hour right now. And in Turkey there are soldiers or reports rather that two soldiers have been killed and 24 others injured in a suspected suicide attack.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Officials say suspected PKK militants blew up a tractor laden with two tons of explosives in Agri Province. The Kurdistan Workers Party has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

[06:25:04] Four people are now dead in an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in New York. And the number of cases reported has doubled to 65 since Thursday. Officials are still searching for the source of the outbreak and urging anyone showing the flu-like symptoms of the disease to seek medical attention.

PAUL: Family and friends of Bobbi Kristina Brown were able to say their final good-byes to the only child of the late Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown. Private funeral ceremony had been held in Atlanta. This comes of course more than six months after Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive in a bathtub inside her home. But the services, well, they were not without some drama. Apparently Brown's aunt came out of the service saying she was kicked out of the funeral. Here's what she said.


LEOLAH BROWN, AUNT OF BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN: It went wonderful until Pat started speaking and I didn't like that.



BROWN: Well, I just told her that Whitney was going to haunt her from the grave.


BROWN: Not much. She's not saying anything. I really don't know what she's saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is Kristy remembered?

BROWN: Kristy, she will be remembered in our hearts forever, just like Whitney will. OK. I really loved my niece. And I am so saddened this has happened to her right after her mother.



PAUL: Now meanwhile, notably absent from that service Brown's partner Nick Gordon. He's currently facing a civil lawsuit from the family alleging that he accessed Brown's bank account and stole more than $11,000.

BLACKWELL: Kraft is recalling 36,000 cases of their individually wrapped American cheese slices because of a choking hazard. OK. Check the numbers here. When the wrapper is removed, a small piece of plastic can stick to the cheese which could be eaten by accident. The company said there were three reports of choking. And you can find the details on the specific cases being recalled at

PAUL: Did you watch it? If you blinked, you might have missed it. Took less than a minute but what a fight. MMA star Ronda Rousey destroyed Bethe Correia in a 34-second grudge match last night. 34 seconds. Landing several punches before knocking out her opponent with a strike to the head. Last night's match marks a 12th straight win for Rousey. And it means she keeps her Bantam weight title.

Congratulations to her.

BLACKWELL: Wow. Getting it all done.

PAUL: Look at that. Those faces kind of scare me.

BLACKWELL: A little bit.

PAUL: A little bit.

BLACKWELL: A little bit. Hey, we're following two breaking news stories right now. First, this new object found off the shores of reunion island, the same place where part of a wing of a now confirmed Boeing 777 was found last week.

Could this new object also be part of a 777? And may be MH-370.

PAUL: And we're also following breaking news in Memphis this morning. A manhunt right now for the person who shot and killed a police officer during a traffic stop. Stay close.


PAUL: The average rate for long-term mortgages fell for a second straight week with a 30-year note slipping below 4 percent. Here's your look.