Return to Transcripts main page


Plane Carrying 54 People Missing; Trump Prepared to Spend $1 Billion on Campaign. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 16, 2015 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's exactly what the Iowa state fair is about. And, look, it also gave her the opportunity to underscore the partisanship that has become this whole issue about e-mail. It was supposed to be about Benghazi. Benghazi has been already investigated by multiple committees, millions of dollars have been dedicated to that, and they have found absolutely nothing.

So, she's in an enviable position. She beats all of the top polls. She beats every Republican, huge probabilities. And so, I can see why Republicans are still going after her.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Maria Cardona, Ben Ferguson, we've got to wrap it up. We're actually into the next hour. Thank you so much for being with us. We've got to get back to the breaking news.

CARDONA: Thanks so much, Victor.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And your new hour of NEW DAY starts right now.

All righty. We're so glad to have your company as always. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell.

And we're starting out with breaking news there from Indonesia. A regional flight carrying 54 people is missing.

PAUL: The passenger plane left Jayapura, along the northern coast there, at 2:52 in the afternoon. It lost contact with air traffic controller about a half hour into the journey. It was only 10 minutes from the final destination.

BLCKWELL: And we understand from authorities the search has been suspended for the day. I mean, there was bad weather there. Nightfall, of course. It's dark now. Officials say it will resume in the morning.

Kathy Novak is following the story. She's in Seoul, South Korea.

Kathy, get us up to date.

KATHY NOVAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're waiting for a press conference that is set to get underway in Jakarta to learn more. But what we do know is a bit about this plane. It was carrying 54 people, 44 adults, five crew, and five children, among them three infants.

And you saw the map there. It was headed for a very mountainous area. This is a province of Indonesia, a province of Papua. It was ten minutes away from where it was to land.

And that is that very mountainous region where we're talking about. It's on the border of Papua, New Guinea. And that is a lot of the concern when we talk about the search and rescue mission that is due to get underway in the morning when it is light, whether or not these people will be able to be accessed in such a remote region.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kathy Novak, thank you so much.

Let's bring in now our analyst. We've got former inspector with us -- former FAA inspector David. We'll bring in Mary Schiavo in just a moment.

David, I just want to start broaden it and narrow in. What stands out to you here, the major question you want answered?

DAVID SOUCIE, AUTHOR, MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370: Well, the first thing I want to know is was the aircraft actually on its flight path, and because it was so close to where it was supposed to land ten minutes out, it should have already been into its descent and approaching into the landing airport. So, what's curious to me is, at that point, if the aircraft checked in, this search area should be very small and very finite.

PAUL: David, this is what I think is the most disturbing, one of the most disturbing things, is the fact that you've got family members who are waiting at the airplane ten minutes before the flight landed and now they're hearing nothing. And we're getting word, of course, that there was an initial search but it was called off because of nightfall, because of bad weather and that they resume the search, but that until the morning.

So, but they will resume the search but not until the morning. As a family member I'm sitting there wondering where they are, if they're alive, if they're suffering, what's happening.

Certainly investigators are not going to sleep tonight waiting for morning. Help us to understand what's happening at this hour as they prepare for resuming that research.

SOUCIE: It's a very good question, incredibly difficult time for the family members. And what I would beg is that they understand that the fact is, to risk additional lives to be out there at nighttime with the winds and the things that are going on in these mountainous regions is extremely hazardous, extremely dangerous to be out there. And the last think you want is additional lives to be taking in search and rescue efforts.

However, rest assured that it's of the utmost importance to them as well as anyone else that we -- that they continue to look for this aircraft. Now, it can be a good sign and the fact that there hasn't been any reports of other aircraft in the area reported fires or smoke plumes or anything like that during the daylight hours. That's a very good sign that there maybe survivors. And that maybe it the aircraft hasn't crashed at all. Maybe it made an emergency landing in a survivable area.

There's a lot of possibility still. There's no reason to close hope. There's no reason to be overly dramatic about it at this point, although it is terribly dramatic for the families, of course. But there's no answers right now, and all we have to do is pray for patience and wait for those searchers to do a safe rescue.

[08:05:01] PAUL: But what would they be doing at this hour? How would they be preparing for this search?

SOUCIE: Well, they're looking very intently at where the highest probabilities are. If the aircraft is in a ravine, that's the first place they'll search. They're planning their search for tomorrow. They probably still have, even though it's nighttime, they have crews being positioned into the highest probable areas so they can go out and start looking from the ground search. The aircraft, they'll be prepared.

They have flare, which is a heat-sensing searching device where as they fly over it, they can see infrared where there's heat from fire or even bodies or reports of people walking on the ground. So those technologies are being prepare and mounted onto various aircraft right now. There's a lot of preparation that needs to be done for proper search and rescue, and I can assure you that rescue operation is going on right now.

BLACKWELL: Hey, David, several times over the last two years, we have analyzed missing planes, plane crashes here. And at some point, very early on, there are other countries, international organizations that get involved. Do you expect that to occur in the morning or do you expect that will be led solely by the Indonesians?

SOUCIE: It will be led by the Indonesians. However, who will be bought in the team, are the manufacturers of the engines, ATR, which is a French base Aerospatiale company, the same company that makes the Airbus. The French will be heavily involved because they're the company that manufactures the aircraft.

So, there will be a lot of expertise coming in. Most likely they'll reach out because of their limited experience, if this turns out to be an accident, of course. They'll be brought in from -- anyone involved in the aircraft manufacture itself and the operations.

They may bring in the NTSB. But most likely, the NTSB would not be involved in this yet. It will most likely be the French government that will be involved. PAUL: I want to point out, the picture that we've been putting up of

the airline is indeed the exact plane that they're looking for. It is an ATR-42 turbo prop. And, you know, David, this was operated by Trigana Air Service, which we understand was founded in 1991. They've had 14 accidents or incidents since they opened 24 years ago.

Help us understand. Is that an excessive number? Is that average for an airline? Fourteen accidents or incidents in 24 years? What does that tell you? Anything?

SOUCIE: No. It's certainly not average. It's higher than normal. As far as accidents versus incidents, incidents are precursors, they are things that happen on the ramp, a truck rams into a plane or something. Those are incidents that don't create injuries or fatalities.

So, of those 14, percentage of those are probably -- a higher percentage are incidents and not fatal accidents. But note those are higher numbers.

The ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization taken note of that. They've done back in May of 2014, they did an audit on the regulatory culture or regulatory environment in Indonesia. And more recently the European government has done an evaluation of this particular airline, and they decided to take it off of its list of safe airlines and do not allow them to fly in European countries.

So, yes, this is high concern. Now, unfortunately, in this region, the flyers don't have a whole lot of options of where they can go and what airlines they can fly in that region. So, most of the people on board the aircraft are locals who do not have a whole lot of other choices.

BLACKWELL: Hey, David. You have said something that has really grabbed my ear. We have no reports of smoke plumes or any social media reports of flames as you suggested, and there haven't been any.

How common is it for a plane to disappear so far along into a flight. It was supposed to end, what, in ten minutes, to not have any of those reports and still a plane that's missing?

SOUCIE: That's a really good question, Victor. I did a couple of accidents in which this was the case, and it took us even a couple of days to find the aircraft. One of these aircraft was on close final approach into Casper, Wyoming. It was eight minutes out. We knew that it was on the flight path, we knew that it was on way to the airport.

Now, it was a different situation because it was snow and winter but similar in that it crashed in the final minutes. You have to understand that still gives a lot.

[08:10:00] In this type of terrain, which again was similar in Casper, it's very much mountainous type terrain up there on this side of the airport, but it can take a long time. If there's a crash in which there's flames, smoke plumes, that sort of thick, you have other aircraft flying that same approach path. So, as they flying in, they're very aware of a plane flying off the radar literally.

They're informed of that. They say keep looking. Do you see the aircraft, do you see the aircraft, do you see any sign of an accident, that sort of thing. So, immediately after that there are airlines flying into airports looking for this thing.

So, at this point, to think there was a horrific crash and fire and that sort of thing, it doesn't look that way to me. I would think by now if that did happen, we would have reports of that from the fallowing aircraft that was keeping an eye out for it.


PAUL: All right. David Soucie, thank you so much. We appreciate all of your insight into this.

We do want to go now to Indra Marpaung. She's CNN Indonesia senior producer.

So, tell us what you know, Indra, if there are any updates from that?


So, we have been informed from the minister of transportation that there has been a sighting from the area -- a district called (INAUDIBLE) in Papua where a community (INAUDIBLE) mentioned that they see some -- an airline that's flying really close to the left and -- but they are still trying to confirm that tomorrow.

And in the area of Oksibil, if I'm not mistaken, is the area where it was reported by the transportation minister that the contact was lost at the time. And then to get to that point, if it's correct where the flight is missing, then it's going to taken three days due to the condition of the area.

They're on the valley. They're on the mountain site of Jayapura, and it's really hard to get there by land. And as you know, it's dark at the moment, and they cannot continue the rescue search. They put it on hold until tomorrow to go through the air.

BLACKWELL: So, let me understand. This is Victor. Let me ask you a question, just at the top, you said that there were reports of planes that were flying pretty low there.

Are there reports --

MARPAUNG: Correct.

BLACKWELL: Are these reports referring to the search or reports around the time that this plane disappeared?

MARPAUNG: It was around the time of the airplane disappear.

BLACKWELL: OK, OK. PAUL: OK. All right. Indra, we appreciate that update. Thank you

so much for letting us know that.

So, that's interesting to hear that planes were flying so low. And, again, this is a very mountainous area. We've been told mountains as high as 10,000 feet.


PAUL: So, again, the search will resume tomorrow morning but you just cannot help but think of these families who are counting down the hours until somebody gets back in the air and can hopefully give them some answers as to what happened with this missing plane that has 54 people on board, including five children, three of which are infants.

Stay with us. We have more coming up in just a moment.


[08:17:18] BLACKWELL: All right. Let's get more on the breaking news now. This plane carrying 54 people that disappeared midflight over the province of Papua.

I want to go to CNN correspondent David Molko. He knows this area well. He's joining us from Singapore.

We just heard from, David, from CNN Indonesia, producer Indra Marpaung, that there were reports of sightings around the time the plane disappeared, of a plane flying kind of low close to the mountains there.

Help us understand not just the terrain but the population around this designation city of Oksibil.

DAVID MOLKO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor. What we know is it's a relatively small town in relative terms. Remember this entire province of Papua probably, roughly, you know, a few million people. This is much, much smaller. There is no major population center in the interior.

Just, you know, a word of caution on the reports we're getting from all sorts of, you know, not only our local teams, but sources at this point. Officials are trying to piece this together themselves. They're making calls.

Information is coming in. It's typical in a situation like this that we're hearing there were planes flying low. There was a sighting, maybe there wasn't.

Again, caution on that front. I think the important thing to mention is the plane was flying over some rugged remote terrain, mountain peaks, tall, if not taller than 10,000 feet. It was just about ten minutes from its scheduled landing when it went missing, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Good point, because at this point there have been no reports of plumes of smoke or any fire or anything other than this plane disappeared, and authorities in Indonesia are saying they're still looking for it. They're not saying that it crashed at this point.

But one point that I know you're aware of is that the growth in this area and the growth of this industry, a smaller airlines for a growing middle class.

MOLKO: That's right, Victor. It's certainly happening. It's one of the fastest if not one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. That's more people who have money to spend, a growing middle class, not only in Indonesia but outside of that in Malaysia, throughout Southeast Asia.

There are more people flying in this region than ever before. One of the questions that came up, Victor and Christi, it came up with air 80-501 and a military cargo plane that crashed two months ago in the city of may don. We're talking about radar systems and air traffic control.

[08:20:00] Are they keeping up with this growing industry? That's a big question that came up earlier this year.

The president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, said he wanted a top-down review and more transparent industry. It is complicated. They have a long way to go in terms of all of these factors.

Questions, though, with this missing plane about oversight, about maintenance, and, of course, about the regional infrastructure here. The biggest challenge, as you mentioned, continuing to be trying to get any information out of what is an incredibly remote region.

PAUL: Yes, not only that but if Oksibil is as small as you speak of it, you have to wonder how quickly they can get, what they need for that investigation. Again, that investigation, other than that search will be will be resuming tomorrow morning.

David Molko, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

We're going to have so much more after the break. Stay close.


PAUL: Do you know Donald trump has to report for jury duty tomorrow? Who's going to pick that man in the game? He was just at the Iowa state fair, of course. Dramatic, of course. Skipping out on the soapbox, coming in on a helicopter, and huge crowds were scrambling to the front-runner here who -- apparently, he was trying the fried foods and giving chopper rides as you see the helicopter there.

[08:25:05] He did address the Hillary Clinton's e-mail server controversy. In fact, Trump talked to CNN's Jeff Zeleny about that and more.

Jeff, tell us about that conversation.


PAUL: Good morning.

ZELENY: We did catch up with Donald Trump just for a minute as he walked through the Iowa state fair. Of course, he's been talking about this issue a lot, about the private e-mail server that Secretary Hillary Clinton has agreed to turn over to the Justice Department. It's an issue dogging her campaign.

She said it's simply a partisan attack. She said there's no "there" there. We caught up with Donald Trump. Let's listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a criminal problem. I mean, it's going to be a very serious problem for her, Jeff. It's going to be about as serious as it gets. You look at General Petraeus and he was destroyed over a much lesser event. So, I think she's got a very big problem.

ZELENY: But his e-mails were marked classified. Hers were not.

TRUMP: Well, I think some of his were. And it seemed like they took a lot of markings off. I mean, somebody's got a big problem and it looks like it's Hillary.

ZELENY: Any worry Republicans could overplay their hand on this e- mail controversy?

TRUMP: Look, it is what it is. It was a terrible thing she said, which is actually a very foolish thing. There was no reason to do it. And she's got a big problem.


ZELENY: So, Donald Trump says she has a big problem. That's, of course, up to the voters to actually decide.

But shortly after he was at the state fair, Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist from Vermont, he drew a very, very large crowd, one of the largest crowds we've actually seen. He's been doing it across the country and he did it advice the country.

We caught up with him afterward on how his campaign is going and how he hopes to translate that into actual votes. Let's take a listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It just tells me the same I've seen all over this country and that is people have had it up to here. They're sick and tired of seeing this great nation, a great nation like ours where almost all of the wealth and income are going to the top 1 percent while the middle class continues to disappear.

They're sick and tired of a campaign finance system that allows the Koch brothers and billionaires the literally buy elections.


ZELENY: So, that message from Bernie Sanders is really resonating with the voters.

Of course, it's six months until Iowa caucuses. That is a very first stop in the road to the White House. We're here in Iowa state fair. A loud truck is going behind us here.

A lot of presidential candidates were here over the weekend and more will be here in the coming week -- Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Jeff Zeleny, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk more about Sanders and Trump with CNN political commentator Maria Cardona. Also with us, Jeffrey Lord, former White House political director under Reagan administration, also Trump supporter, Jeffrey.

I want to start with you, Jeffrey. Trump has confirmed to CNN he plans to spend a billion dollars on his campaign, pare that with his comments about the donations to Jeb Bush's super PAC, and Bush becoming a puppet. Is that resonating?

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes, I do think it's resonating. I'd be very candid, I think a lot of people in America have come to do the conclusion that Washington and the system in Washington is corrupt and it's open for bid.

And so, when somebody like Donald Trump comes along and says he's going to spend his own money and not depend on lobbyist, which is what the Bush campaign is going to have to do, you've got a very potent message and a very potent messenger.

BLACKWELL: Maria, Bernie Sanders is getting huge crowds, tens of thousands at a time. Why is it dominance in rallying support showing up in the polls?

CARDONA: Well, what I think that you're seeing is he's speaking to, frankly, a lot of Democrats. And what's interesting is that all the issues that Bernie is talking about, Hillary Clinton is talking about as well.

So, again, I think Bernie is exciting Democrats. That's good for Hillary Clinton. It will make her a better candidate. It will make her a better candidate in the general election, and I think it's something that makes this process a much stronger one from a Democratic standpoint.

I think what you're seeing is Hillary Clinton still continues to have a strong leading role. In the average of all the polls she's still beating everybody on the Democratic side and Republican side. Her favorabilities are higher than any Republican, and so, she's still in a very strong position.

But, hey, Bernie is still doing what he needs to be doing. I hope he continues to do it. And it will be a great process because of it.

BLACKWELL: All right. A big weekend wrapping up here with all the politics. I guess we have to pack the butter cow away for next year.

Maria Cardona and Jeffrey Lord, thank you very much.

CARDONA: Thank you so much.

LORD: Thank you.

PAUL: You really wanted that butter cow.

BLACKWELL: I just wanted to see it in person.

Be sure to check out CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION", with special guest, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee this morning. That all starts at the top of the hour, right here on CNN.

PAUL: Yes. But get out there and make great memories. We're so grateful for your company as always.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.