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Referendum in Crimea; Vast Expansion of Search Area for Disappeared Plane; Anniversary of 2011 Tsunami in Japan; Beautiful Ice Caves in Lake Superior

Aired March 17, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Saint Patrick`s Day. Welcome to our March, 17th edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz.

First up, voters in Crimea went to the polls yesterday and overwhelmingly chose to become part of Russia? The local government is sending a delegation to Moscow to apply for that. Russia welcomes the vote and will likely be willing to redraw its borders. But Ukraine, the European Union and the United States, all say the vote doesn`t count. That a region of Ukraine can`t just break away from the rest of the country and become part of another one. Ukraine`s been divided over whether to forge closer ties with Europe or Russia.

Its former president favored Russia, but violent protests in the capital led to his ouster last month. Now, with the U.S. and European Union supporting a unified Ukraine and Russia supporting Crimea`s secession, the country`s political future is unclear. There`s still no sign of a Malaysian Airlines plane that vanished in mid- flight more than a week ago. But U.S. intelligence officials think the captain and copilot might have had something to do with the disappearance, that it was not an accident. Part of the reason, the plane stopped transmitting information at what one official called the perfect place to disappear. Investigators have taken a flight simulator from the captain`s house. They are examining that for clues. The search now includes 25 countries, the area is tremendous.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take off from Kuala Lumpur 12:41 a.m. local time last Saturday, Flight 370 headed north along its planned route to Beijing. But then, two communication systems stopped working within minutes of each other. And investigators now believe someone almost surely turned them off.

At 1:07 a.m., near the East Coast of Malaysia, the system known as ACARS stops transmitting information about the plane`s operating condition, and that was before the last radio transmission. All right, good night indicating everything was normal.

1:21 a.m., the transponder, which identifies the aircraft on radar, stops transmitting. Was someone trying to hide the plane? We also now know blips then seen on Malaysian military radar were in fact Flight 370 headed west, and authorities say there`s every indication someone was in control.

NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: Up until the point, at which it left military primary radar coverage, this movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still unclear, whether it was a pilot or a hijacker. CNN has confirmed, the plane made erratic changes in altitude. It was flying what officials describe as a "strange path". At one point, it appears to have climbed to 45,000 feet, well above its approved altitude, then descending to 23,000. Now, a new analysis of satellite information shows the plane kept flying more than seven hours after takeoff, much longer than previously thought. A satellite searching for operational data from the plane, detected the aircraft every hour in a so called handshake, but no data was transmitted.

Its last contact, 8:11 a.m., somewhere along this arc that stretches as far north as Kazakhstan and as far south as the Indian Ocean west of Australia.


AZUZ: Got some pretty tough sounding mascots in our first "Roll Call" of the week. Who`d want to mess with the (INAUDIBLE)? They are watching from Monache High School, the (INAUDIBLE) are in Portville, California. Then, what better mascot for the desert than the desert shields? They are keeping shy in high school. Awesome, in north Las Vegas, Nevada. And you won`t find these guys near a bird feeder: the War Eagles. Waynesboro, Mississippi, glad to see you watching in Wayne County High School. Around this time, three years ago parts of Japan were reeling from a catastrophic earthquake tsunami and nuclear disaster. The tremor that started it was the fourth largest earthquake on record. And while the effects of all this can still be seen in the coastal damage and debris floating in the Pacific Ocean, a symbol of hope is still standing.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: A 9.0 magnitude earthquake strike the coast of northern Japan, unleashing the largest tsunami in the country`s history. Traveling as fast as the jet plane, the wave reached an astounding 132.5 feet high. That`s roughly the height of Rio`s Christ the Redeemer`s Stature. Over 18,000 people lost their lives. Coastal communities were decimated, and the most serious nuclear crisis since Chernobyl ensued.

In one town on Japan`s northeast coast, only a handful of buildings remained standing when the water receded. A forest of 70,000 trees, trees that have protected the town for hundreds of years were lost. All that is but one - this pine tree was the only one to survive the massive wave. It became known as the miracle pine, a symbol of hope for the devastated community. When salt water threatened its life in 2012, the 270-year old, 88 foot tree was cut down, hollowed out and preserved. It was then erected in the same spot, now serving as a memorial to the tsunami victims.

Radioactive water from Fukushima is still said to be periodically leaking into the Pacific. 100,000 people are still living in temporary housing, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this week, he would not let the disaster fade from memory. This tree won`t let it.


AZUZ: In the Southwest area of Lake Superior, part of the natural border between the U.S. and Canada, there`s a pristine chain of 21 islands. They are called the Apostle Islands, the jewels of Lake Superior. It`s a national park, rich and everything from human history to natural history. We recently showed you how a bitterly cold winter crusted over the caves and ice. Now, we are stepping inside.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the past few months, more than 100,000 people had journey to the northern tip of Wisconsin, marching over ice covered Lake Superior for more than a mile each way, in a bitter cold. All because of what lies ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dozens of ice caves, stretching for over a mile along the coast or giving people an experience of a lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s really cool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like walking into the Holy ..

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While some of the caves are massive like this one, which is called the garage, others .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s kind of claustrophobic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Require some crawling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting into the little one.

It`s well worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside each cave houses, a unique icy masterpiece, all courtesy of Mother Nature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a really weird pinkish hue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The colors in there are really weird.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The caves which kayakers flocked to every summer, are made of sandstone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are overlaying by a wet soil. There are springs and sips. And so, these rocks actually have little cracks in them. And so, there`s a lot of water that is coming down through and over the rocks and forming into ice formations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ice is starting to melt away in some spots. This is the first winter in five years the caves have been accessible and there`s no way of knowing when we`ll be able to see them again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, if you can I.D. me. I`m a nation that`s about the size of West Virginia. I`m a Republic located in Western Europe. My national holiday is today. I`m Ireland, whose population is just under 5 million people.

But around 34 million Americans say they have Irish ancestry, and that`s part of the reason why today Saint Patrick`s Day is celebrated so extensively in the U.S. Here`s a by the numbers look at the holiday.

Five, as in fifth century - that`s when St. Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.

16. According to the census, that`s the number of places in the U.S. named Dublin, like Ireland`s capital.

22.6, the percentage of people in Massachusetts who claim they have Irish ancestor.

17.62 - the year of the first Saint Patrick`s Day Parade in New York.

About 2900, the number of snake species in the world, none of which are found in Ireland.

133 million, the number of people in the U.S. who plan to celebrate St. Patrick`s Day and finally, 83, the percentage of those celebrants who say they plan wear green.

It`s like soccer, but it`s on a bigger field. It`s like golf, but with a bigger ball. It`s foot golf. And if you haven`t heard of it, it might be because only a couple of thousands folks in the U.S. are estimated to have played it. The head of the American Foot Golf League says it`s a lot like golf. The winner gets the ball in the hole with the fewest kicks. And since it`s got to be a FIFA number five soccer ball, the hole is bigger than the golf cup. That`s what a hole - looks like.

With less running than soccer and less frustration than golf, it`s no wonder why folks want to join that club. To give it a sporting chance to put their feet to the four, to get a kick out of going green and to say, they spent an afternoon just kicking it. We`d love to see you tomorrow with CNN STUDENT NEWS return.