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Search for Missing Plane Resumes; Wife of Passenger Says Malaysian Officials Lying; Plane's Co-Pilot Talked to CNN Last Month; 178 Missing In Washington State Mudslide; Searchers Battle Rain, Mud

Aired March 25, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a SITUATION ROOM special report on the mystery of Flight 370.

The search for wreckage resumes with more planes and more urgency after a daylong weather delay. We are live in the region. Plus, exploding anger. Hundreds of Flight 370 relatives protest against Malaysia. They're demanding proof of the government's claim their loved ones are dead. Stand by. You will hear their emotional pleas.

And new CNN clue. A final signal from the missing airliner is revealed. Is it helping investigators or confusing them even more?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And the breaking news this hour, the search for Flight 370 is back under way. It was suspended 24 hours ago because of stormy conditions in the Southern Indian Ocean. It's just after 6:00 a.m. Wednesday in the search area. The weather has now improved. But CNN forecasters tell us strong winds and currents might still be a serious problem.

Two-and-a-half weeks after the plane vanished, investigators can't afford any more delays.

Our correspondent and analysts, they are tracking every new development. They're here in THE SITUATION ROOM and around the globe covering the story as only CNN can.

Let's go first to our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, within the hour, some new advanced equipment is going to be arriving in Australia from the U.S. to help potentially aid in the search, including an unmanned submarine, a pinger locator.

But we are told by the Pentagon it's a long way from being useful at this point because they are so far from finding where the plane went down, in fact no closer we are told by the Pentagon. This happens as many of the victims' families are getting frustrated and angry, many of the Chinese families directing that anger at the Malaysian government.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today, the Malaysian airline CEO said it in the starkest terms so far: All hope for survivors is gone.

TAN SRI MD NOR YUSOF, CHAIRMAN, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: The aircraft is now lost and that none of the passengers or crew on board survived.

SCIUTTO: Many of the family members, however, refuse to accept Flight 370's fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They even get no evidence that the flight was crashed.

SCIUTTO: And today they directed their frustration at the Malaysian government, joining an angry protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they said that no one is survived, but no evidence. If you find something, OK, we will accept -- but nothing.

SCIUTTO: Many of the answers that they are demanding may lie with the aircraft itself, now most likely somewhere at the bottom of the Southern Indian Ocean.

MARK BINSKIN, VICE CHIEF, AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE FORCE: We're not searching for a needle in a haystack. We're still trying to find where the haystack is. So that's just to put it in context.

SCIUTTO: The latest satellite data indicates that the plane went down in an extremely remote stretch, four hours by plane from air bases in Western Australia and nearly two-and-a-half times the size of Texas. Much of the sea bottom there has never been thoroughly charted.

DAVID JOHNSTON, AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: This is an extremely remote part of the world. It's 3,500 meters deep, 2,500 kilometers from Perth. It's a massive logistical exercise.

SCIUTTO: And that is in the best of conditions. Today, gale-force winds grounded all search missions.

JOHNSTON: It is rough, sea state seven. There are 20-, 30-meter waves. It is very, very dangerous, even for big Panamax-class ships.

SCIUTTO: In a rare international coalition, six countries are now taking part in the search, including at least four aircraft and one ship from Australia, two aircraft each from the U.S. and South Korea, one from New Zealand and 15 ships from China.

370 is being sought by air, sea, and also by sound. The U.S. Navy tweeted this photo of a pinger locator on route to Australia. Once an approximate location of the wreckage is found, the device will be lowered into the sea to listen to pings from the plane's flight recorders. They sound something like this.

The devices won't reach the search area until April 5, just three days before the battery in the signaling device will likely go dead.


SCIUTTO: Malaysia Airlines has announced that the families of the passengers on the plane have now been paid $5,000 each to help cover costs so far, but that is really just a down payment on the millions of dollars that the airline is likely to be liable following loss of Flight 370 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you, Jim Sciutto reporting.

Let's get the latest now on the actual search for Flight 370.

CNN' Kyung Lah is standing by in the staging area in Perth, Australia.

Kyung, I take it the first surveillance plane has taken off, a Chinese aircraft?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That happened about an hour ago, Wolf, and the flights are continuing to take off.

I can actually hear some of the turboprops revving up about just five minutes ago. These planes will stagger throughout the day leaving from this air base as well as Perth International and they're going to heading to that area, that search area four hours away.

A different tactic today. They will split the search into three different areas, trying to cover more of the sea, 80,000 square kilometers. One of the key search areas will be done by sea. The Australian ship that Jim was mentioning is going to be steaming to the area where debris was spotted by an Australian plane two days ago. That is going to be one of the key search areas.

There are now six countries involved, a massive show of strength in the air trying to cover more sea, trying to bring some of that evidence home for these families -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kyung, I know it is already Wednesday morning where you are in Perth, Australia. I heard from one U.S. official who is involved in this operation they are feeling pretty good about potentially what could happen today, the weather relatively decent. There are a lot of planes flying over it. There is some debris. They are hopeful they might spot something.

Are you getting the same, a little bit more upbeat assessment from folks there in Australia on the ground?

LAH: Well, they are certainly feeling better about how many countries are involved. There are more planes and more ships going to be flooding that area than ever before.

If they are going to find it, today may be the day. The problem is that even though conditions are improved, as you point out, they are not ideal. They were ideal a few days ago. They still have to deal with low clouds. But the interesting thing that we are hearing here is that all of people who are getting into those search planes really feel driven by this.

They really want to bring an answer home. And that is something that they all are invested in. They have seen the pictures on CNN and they hear the stories from these families and they know that they need something in order to have closure -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah in Perth, Australia, we will stay closely in touch with you. Thank you.

In China, meanwhile, anger at the Malaysian government's handling of the entire investigation, and that anger is boiling over. Hundreds of passengers' relatives protested outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing. Some got into scuffles with police.

CNN's David McKenzie is joining us from the Chinese capital with more.

What is the very latest, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is this anger which has been simmering for days here in Beijing, Wolf, has finally boiled over.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): These are the families and friends of those on board Malaysia Flight 370. They are frustrated and angry. They want answers. They want to know where the plane is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't even get no evidence that the flight was crashed, and they said that, oh, it is over. They said that no one survived. There's no evidence. If you find something, OK, we accept.

MCKENZIE: Police here prevented their bus from leaving the Beijing hotel that has been their home base, so they took to the streets on foot, marching to the Malaysian Embassy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the beginning, they just hide everything. And I don't think this kind of government, a liar and even a murderer, can solve anything.

MCKENZIE: According to the passenger manifest, 154 of the 227 passengers on board Flight 370 were from China. And their loved ones say they are resilient and resolved, unwilling to rest until their questions are answered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing found. If something found, we will go to Australia, but since nothing found, we will stay here or we will go to Malaysia to fight for ourselves.


MCKENZIE: Well, Wolf, highly unusual for the Chinese government and the Communist Party to allow protests to happen here on the streets, particularly in Beijing, the capital. One has to believe there's at least tacit approval of these protests or at the very least the government knows that if they get involved to crack down on them, like they would with pretty much any other protest here, they will face the wrath of the families, so a tight spot for the government and a lot of raw anger from the families -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Any improvement in the Chinese relationship with Malaysia? They want answers from Malaysia. And so far, as far as I can tell, they have not received a whole lot of satisfaction as far as providing information to China about what happened.

MCKENZIE: The Chinese now, according to state media, are sending a special envoy to Malaysia.

That will apply more pressure on the Malaysian government from the Chinese side. There's no love lost between China and Southeast Asian countries at the best of times. And while you have seen a great deal of cooperation between countries in the search effort, when it comes to the information flow and the managing of this process, a lot of pointed fingers from here in China towards Malaysia. And that is stewing their anger of the families that depend on state media often for their information -- Wolf.

BLITZER: David McKenzie in Beijing, where the pollution is obviously very, very heavy at this early morning hour. Thanks very much, David, for that.

Let's bring in our panel now to discuss what we just heard.

Joining us, our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh, our CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien, "The New York Times" reporter Michael Schmidt, our aviation analyst Peter Goelz, and pilot and aviation expert Jay Rollins. He's joining us from Miami.

Peter, you have dealt with a lot of families in NTSB families. Have you ever seen anything like this, this explosion of anger from the families in any of the investigations you were involved in?


The Family Assistance Act in the United States really set up a process to deal with these kinds of very challenging situations. But this is really unprecedented and is so heartrending.

BLITZER: Miles, you have covered these kinds of investigations for years. Have you ever seen this kind of anger and protest coming from family members?


And that Family Assistance Act that he refers to sets up a whole mechanism which provides counseling, grief support and frankly briefings in advance of news conferences, so the families feel they are being informed and the facts are laid out for them, not conclusions, facts. They can draw their conclusions. It's the very least that these families are entitled to.

BLITZER: There is a limited amount of time before they find the so- called black box, which is actually orange, maybe another 12, 13, 14 days. Are you optimistic they can find it?

O'BRIEN: No. I'm not optimistic they will find it in that time frame. Over time, there is a good chance, but it might be years, as we saw in the case of Air France, which had a much narrower search area.

BLITZER: The life span of the information in there is?

O'BRIEN: Well, pretty much indefinite.


BLITZER: So, even if takes a year or two...


O'BRIEN: It will sit at 20,000 feet. It will be fine. It can go down to 20,000 feet. This is 10,000 feet of water, we think.

BLITZER: Rene, you did some reporting on the pings they were getting and now half-a-ping as some are calling it. What is the latest on that front? Because it does suggest that this is more of an art than a science, this investigation.


Every day, we are hearing about a new piece of data that perhaps they will be able to drill down on and gain a little bit more information about. So this partial connection or partial handshake as they are officially calling it, it happened after that 8:11 ping that we have been talking about for weeks.

Then they picked up something that happened at around 8:19. Here is the thing. They are kind of stumped. What does this mean? Does it mean that that is the point where the plane went down or does it mean that the plane was still flying at 8:19? They have been very honest in saying we are not quite sure what this partial handshake means, but we are going to be looking into it.

But here is why it is so significant. It may -- if they are able to drill down and pull out more information, we may get a better idea as to where this plane truly did go down. Then we can narrow that search and then we have a smaller area to search. As one person put it, searching the moon is easier than searching the bottom of the ocean.

BLITZER: Yes. And 2.5, three weeks later, it could have moved hundreds of miles by the time the currents took hold of it.

Jay Rollins, where do you come down on this? More likely some sort of mechanical failure or some criminal activity?

JAY ROLLINS, AVIATION EXPERT: Wolf, it's very difficult to choose one side or the other. I can make an argument either way. Neither argument is without fault.

So it's too early. There are a lot of things that we don't know that hopefully more information coming from the satellite can give us. We are getting conflicting reports whether the aircraft was at 35,000 feet or, as the Malaysian air force tells us, it was down to 12,000 feet.

That is a big difference in terms of how quickly that plane would have reached the location that they say is where it has crashed. And because of that, we don't know the motives. The how and the why depends upon what altitude and how that aircraft was flown. It is just too early.

BLITZER: Michael Schmidt of "The New York Times," what are you hearing as far as U.S. investigators? Are they more inclined to believe accident, mechanical failure or criminal activity?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": They still think it is the pilots based on the fact that it was someone who was able to redirect the plane who had to know what they were doing and someone that turned the transponders off.

And certainly that would -- someone could learn how to do that, but the likelihood is that it was really a pilot, sure, maybe someone on the crew, maybe a passenger. But the chances, they say, is that it was the pilot.

The other thing that they say is that they haven't gotten a lot off that computer. There's no clues that have come off of that yet.

BLITZER: The computer from the flight simulator?

SCHMIDT: Correct. This is the computer that the U.S. took to look for deleted information.

BLITZER: From the lead pilot.

SCHMIDT: Correct. And they have taken that to Quantico and they are looking at it. That is really the FBI's expertise, finding deleted files. But so far they haven't found anything.

BLITZER: And what about the co-pilot? Have they found anything on the hard drive that they took from his computer?

SCHMIDT: Nothing new in any of that. But as the U.S. steps back, they say, look, we are still really not that involved. We have four agents on the ground there. They're sort of listening. We have these computers that don't really say a lot. And besides that, we are not really that much there.

BLITZER: And, Peter, we don't know. It is possible these two pilots were just doing their job, but somebody got into the cockpit and took over for whatever reason.

GOELZ: Absolutely right. We have no evidence to indict the pilots for anything. They seem like perfectly fine aviators with good records. We just don't have the facts yet.

BLITZER: Miles, as you learn more about this, it becomes more -- because every day you could go back and say, you know what? We are back at square one right now.

O'BRIEN: When I saw the track that was laid out by the Inmarsat and the AAIB out of U.K. this morning, I thought this -- every day is a new event.

What is interesting about that is it lays out three turns. The first turn is easy to explain as result of rapid decompression or some kind of mechanical failure. The next two turns don't make as much sense when you are dealing with some sort of catastrophic failure. It looks more like a willful act at that point.

So, however, you can make arguments on both sides of this. At this point, here we are deep into this and we can't rule it out.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Rene.

MARSH: Adding to your point, that just goes to show why not one piece is more important than the other. The debris and finding it isn't more important than finding the data recorder, because you have the situation where the data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder is only going to maybe capture the last two hours of this very long flight.

We need every piece that we can to paint this full picture of exactly what went on because then we spend days with all of these theories. Then, of course, it begs the question, what kind of changes will come about after all of this? Because it seems like this is a turning point for the aviation industry.

BLITZER: The Malaysians have announced that all activity, all the searching on in the northern arc over land, whether from Vietnam all the way to Kazakstan, that has ended. Is that smart?

GOELZ: I think it is.

I think that when you are searching an area larger than the state of Texas for a tiny piece of wreckage, I think you want to put every resource you have got into the most likely locale. You have to narrow that down. If you can't do it, you are never going to find it.

BLITZER: You talk to U.S. officials all the time. What are they saying about the Malaysian government's decision to basically say, it is over, these people who are aboard this plane are dead?

SCHMIDT: They say the Malaysians really made a lot of missteps here by not being transparent from the beginning.

So, anything that they say is going to be seen with skepticism. The U.S. says, yes, they are trying to bookend this here, but at the same time they understand why the people don't take everything they say so seriously.

BLITZER: Because they have made so many blunders, the Malaysians. O'BRIEN: What a tremendous credibility problem they have made for themselves.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to assess is going on.

All right, guys, stand by.

Still ahead, the enormous challenge of searching a section of the ocean that is more than twice the size of Texas. We are going to show you how the target zone is actually being mapped out.

And a passenger's wife shares her sorrow. She says she doesn't have the courage to tell her sons their father may not come home.


BLITZER: Let's go back to the breaking news this hour.

The search for Flight 370 is back under way after a 24-hour delay because of bad weather. There is a huge expanse of the Indian Ocean to investigate. And the clock is clearly ticking.

CNN's Tom Foreman is in our CNN virtual studio to break it all down for us -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can't hear the show.

BLITZER: Well, unfortunately, Tom is not hearing us. Let's try to connect with Tom and we will make sure he can break it all down for us.

In the meantime, let's bring down Colleen Keller. She's a senior analyst fort defense contractor that helped with search for Air France Flight 447.

All right, so, Colleen, tell us a little bit about this search that is under way. This is an area they are searching that is a whole lot bigger than the search in the Atlantic for that Air France plane that went down.


We are covering an enormous area with a large number of search assets in a multiple-day search here. What they are doing right now, you might wonder how they pick the size of each of the search areas that they cover with different aircraft.

I'm sure they are using a search planning process that is outlined in the international aeronautical search manual, which takes into account meteorological visibility, sea state, the size of the target that they think they're looking for, the altitude and speed of the search aircraft. Each aircraft is different and has different capabilities.

Most of them are probably using visual search. In other words, they're using the mark one, mod zero eyeball, looking out the window, trying to pick up the signature, just a visual signature of a piece of the floating debris. And the aeronautical manual will tell them how long they have to stay on station, how close they think they need to get before they can see something.

And that is how these search areas are laid out.

BLITZER: Colleen, I want you to stand by.

I think we have reconnected with Tom Foreman in our virtual studio and he's walking through the search.

Tom, go ahead and explain what you have come up with.

FOREMAN: Yes, Wolf, this is a big search area, still, if you think about it. There is still an awful lot of territory out there that needs to be covered, about 621,000 square miles.

That is still five times as large as the Air France search area and essentially unsearchable at that size. You can go through it, but it's a long, slow grind. So part of what they want to do is bring this down to size a little bit. Let me show you how that might be accomplished here.

Essentially, if you went out to the water there and you had to bring the search area down, one of the things you do is you impose a grid on your search area. You bring your image of where you think the plane went and you put it in this grid. But not all of the squares here for searching are created equal.

Some of them are of higher value than others, because you have evidence to suggest it would be there. If you imagine the middle to be the highest value area and then as you move out to the edge is less value. Let's say you had data that suggested, as they do, that maybe the plane was going a little bit slower.

Well, that could shift your search area values over toward me over here. They would become higher value over here and less so over there. You would intensify your efforts here. Likewise, you may have a sense it was faster. One of the projections would say, if that were the case, it would be a little bit more to its right as it flew this way.

Likewise, Wolf, we don't know precisely when it ran out of fuel. And when a plane is traveling this fast, a difference of 10 minutes can make a big difference. If it went out of fuel and had virtually no glide, then you have a search area that searches way up here in terms of importance.

It has got to move to the first part of that big box. They are looking for any evidence of that. But imagine the opposite, which is also possible. We don't know when the fuel ran out, but let's say the fuel lasted as long as it possibly could and the glide went as far as it could. Then look what happens. Then your primary search zone moves much further down the line, Wolf.

That is one of the concerns here, this idea that even though you have a big area, they are looking for any evidence they can, anything floating in the water, anything that helps cut it down and assign values to each search area, so some of them become more important than others. That's how you manage a site like this as best you can. It is not perfect and it doesn't necessarily lead you right to it or necessarily lead you to it, but it lets you control the space so it doesn't simply crush you by the demand on your resources -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Tom, thanks very much.

Erik van Sebille is an oceanographer from the University of New South Wales. He knows this South Indian Ocean area very well.

How rough is the weather potentially out there, the waves, currents? How difficult of a search could this potentially be over the next week or 10 days?


This is really not the easiest area in the world ocean to go and search for a plane. Actually, I would argue this is maybe the worst area where this plane could have gone down. This is home to the strongest current in the world. It goes about three and four feet per second, just washes down. And it means that every day things move on this current for 50 miles.

It has the biggest waves in the ocean and it has the strongest winds. It is really -- it's so close to Antarctica that it becomes a very difficult place to work in.

BLITZER: So Colleen Keller, if people involved in this search, they're taking off right now from Perth, Australia, and they're heading out there in multiple -- in a lot of different planes and ships, if you hear what Erik is saying, this may be mission impossible right now.

KELLER: Well, I mean, they're giving it their best effort, Wolf. They're doing all the right things in this search. They're covering the area as best they can to maximize their probability of finding a piece of wreckage. We don't know for certain that we're in the right spot, but we're basing it on the satellite detections and where we think the aircraft was at its last known point. We're giving it our best shot at this point.

BLITZER: And the weather is clearly, as winter approaches in that part of the world, Erik, the weather is only going to get worse rather than better, right?

ERIK VAN SEBILLE, OCEANOGRAPHER, UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Absolute -- yes, absolutely. I was down there. I was down in the southern ocean slightly further to the east in December. And it was in our summer down here. That's when scientists like to go to these places because the weather isn't too bad yet.

But as you approach winter, as you approach autumn, it is going to get worse and worse. The only thing is, of course, the daylight gets shorter. It's going to be our winter. And that means that the days get shorter, and it makes it harder to work on the surface of the ocean.

BLITZER: When you're looking for the flight data recorder, Colleen, or the voice recorder, this -- it's orange, but it's called the black box right now. And it's emitting this little ping that could be picked up for a mile or two miles. And you see that vast expanse, you've got to say to yourself, this is probably not going to happen, although they're searching for it. They've got some sophisticated technological equipment out there. But it's -- it's pretty daunting, isn't it, Colleen?

KELLER: Well, we've got the gear. We might as well use it, wolf. We want to put it in the water and give it the best shot that we can. So we're taking -- this is the science of Bayesian search theory. We take little pieces of information with lots of uncertainty, and we put them all together, and then we give it our best shot. I mean, it's -- you know, we would love to get another lead, but at this point it's looking like we've got all the information we're going to have. So we need to get the equipment in the water in the highest probability areas. And that's what we're trying to do right now.

BLITZER: Colleen, is there anything they should be doing that they're not doing right now, based on your experience?

KELLER: Well, I think that we're kind of in our stride at this point. The search is going fairly well to the best that it could. I would love to see the data that they're using. But -- and then being a little more transparent in why they choose their search areas. It would be interesting to see that.

But I have confidence that the Australian surface search effort is expert and that they're doing the best they can. So I can't think of anything else at this point.

BLITZER: I understand, Erik, surface ships probably could have a lot of problems, given the waves, the currents. Certainly planes flying over potentially could have a lot of problems. What about submarines or other underwater vessels, submergibles, whatever they're called. Do you think they would have a better shot?

VAN SEBILLE: Yes, well, as soon as you get below the surface of the ocean, actually, you don't feel the waves anymore. So absolutely you have a better shot there.

But still this is unchartered territory. There's not really been any mission down there. We haven't explored the sea floor. We roughly know the depth of the sea floor, but nobody's been down there. I would argue that we know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the ocean down there.

BLITZER: Really? Why do you say that?

VAN SEBILLE: Well, because it's easier to point a telescope or to point an instrument to the moon, to the surface. We've had landers on there. We've had satellites floating around the moon that actually -- yes, take data from the moon. As soon as you go down into the ocean, you can't work with electromagnetic data anymore. You can't work with most of the techniques. It's pitch dark there. So you can't use light. The only really thing you can use is sound, sonar, these kind of things. And that doesn't really work so well. So we can -- we hardly have a very -- we have a very poor idea of what the -- what the bottom of the ocean is like there.

BLITZER: Colleen, there were satellite images showing suspicious objects. We don't know what they were. Australian satellite images, French, Chinese. So far nothing has been picked up. Why is it so difficult to at least find what the satellites spotted and then go ahead and to try to detect them?

KELLER: I was talking to somebody just earlier about what it's like to be at sea when you have high seas. He was a fish spotter, and he was in a mask. And he said, you know, they would see something. And then the ocean would move, and they'd lose sight of it. And they'd motor over to where it was, and it would have disappeared. And then turns around; it was behind them.

I mean, it's very difficult. We're talking I don't know what the sea state is, but if you get six to ten foot seas, you might see it catch a glimpse of something. It might be, you know, wind-whipped waves and not actually a piece of debris. It's a very difficult place to search from the surface.

If you could coordinate with aircraft that would help. But moving over to where -- a location where an aircraft saw something is a precise science, and it takes a lot of coordination. Very difficult.

BLITZER: Very difficult. Colleen Keller, Erik Van Sebille, guys, thanks very much. Good discussion.

Just ahead more anguish from Flight 370 families. Why one passenger's wife is convinced -- convinced -- the Malaysian government is lying.

And first-hand impressions of Flight 370's copilot. Was there anything to raise any alarm? CNN's Richard Quest, he's standing by to tell us what he knows.


BLITZER: Executives of Malaysia Airlines insist they're giving the families of Flight 370's passengers all the information they can as quickly as possible. But at least one relative of a Chinese passenger tells CNN she just can't trust the Malaysian government. She spoke with our senior international correspondent, Sara Sidner, who's joining us now from Kuala Lumpur.

So tell us what she said, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, she was distraught. And Wolf, she actually called us. We had been trying to talk to some of the family members. And many of the Chinese families who -- whose family members were heading to Beijing have been silent. They haven't said much to the media here.

But she called us because she felt strongly about wanting the world to know how she felt through all this, after 18 days of all of these ups and downs. Her husband, passenger No. 57, Ju Kun (ph) has not returned. And she's not leaving until she sees some kind of physical concrete evidence that he is never going to return, Wolf.


SIDNER: What is the most difficult thing for you right now? And do you think you will ever really know the truth about what happened to this flight?

CHENG LI PING, WIFE OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER (through translator): I don't know. I can't trust Malaysian government. I can't work now all, because all I can think about is my husband and children. I don't have strength to go to work. My head is a mess.

SIDNER: Some of the families in Beijing have had some very harsh words for the government, even saying and going as far as saying that the government is responsible for the deaths.

PING (through translator): Yes, I think the same. Because they have been hiding the truth. Even though they know the truth, they have been delaying it and missed out on the golden time for the search.

SIDNER: Why don't you believe what you've heard from Malaysian authorities? What makes you think your husband is still alive?

PING (through translator): Because the answers don't make sense.

SIDNER: What have you said to your children about what's happened to your husband, their father?

PING (through translator): I don't dare to. I have no courage. Every day I am scared to call my sons, because once I call them, they will cry out, "Daddy, Mommy." And my heart can't handle it. I don't want to hurt my children.


SIDNER: Cheng Li Ping, talking about not being able to bring herself to tell her 1- and 5-year-old boys that their father is missing and that he may never come home.

Now, as far as Malaysian government and the airline itself, they have said that they have tried to tell the families everything they can as soon as they can.

In the beginning, the families felt left out. They felt like the media and the world was getting information first, and they were sort of left behind. But that has changed. And they do admit that Malaysian Airlines and the Malaysian government has taken good care of them. They've given them a place to stay. They've given them food and clothing. They've given them what they needed to be here and try to wait for information, as well as counseling. But what they do not believe, because the information has changed so many times, is the ultimate, that this plane did go down in the Indian Ocean. They simply don't want to believe that, Wolf.

BLITZER: One of the things that I'm sure the family members would like, a lot of people would like, and the Malaysian government could easily do it, is provide either the transcript or the actual audio of the conversations the two pilots had with ground control during the first 40 minutes, 45 minutes or whatever it was of their flight. Why won't the Malaysians release that?

SIDNER: You know, it's a really good question. I think we're still talking about being in the investigative phase. And I think there's a fear of releasing information during that phase, because at this point, from what we are hearing from our sources, what we've been reporting for the last couple of days, there is a general sense that this was deliberate, intentional.

Now, who was the person that was behind this? We don't know. Why did it happen? We don't know that either. But we do know that most folks in that investigation believe it was intentional.

And if there is any sort of sinister action behind this, I think there's a fear of letting information out before they have fully investigated the situation as to how Flight MH-370 actually disappeared, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Sara Sidner reporting for us from Kuala Lumpur. Thanks very much.

Even though search planes are heading back over the southern Indian Ocean right now to try to discover what happened to Flight 370, Malaysia's government hasn't shied away -- shed any real light on why the plane went off course or what may have happened in the cockpit.

CNN's Richard Quest actually interviewed the plane's co-pilot last month. Richard is joining us. Want to -- It was a week before this plane disappeared you spent time some with the 27-year-old co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. What was he like, Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Charming. Charming, polite. He was a little, I think, over awed. I mean, suddenly he had CNN in the cockpit. He had a very senior -- he knew we were filming, obviously. He had a very senior captain sitting with him.

That check captain, by the way, that we heard about, that he would fly with on the first five flights, that check captain was also there, as well. So although he was in charge of the aircraft, he wasn't in command; the captain remained in command.

He was absolutely delightful. He loved flying. He made polite conversation. And he -- you know, not that I'm particularly an expert on this. When asked afterwards, the captain simply said, "This man has trained in the simulator. He's trained for many hours. He's an experienced first officer, and he did a picture perfect landing in Cairo (ph)." BLITZER: So when you heard that this was the co-pilot of this tragic flight, what went through your mind, Richard? It was only a week apart.

QUEST: Horrified. It was absolutely -- you know, I realize -- I mean, the picture that everybody is using, the one that you now see on the screen is the one that we took with him in the cockpit, he took on his camera, and it's the one that now was on his Facebook picture. That is me sort of over his left shoulder.

You know, it is one of those awful coincides that we happen to have filmed with him on that occasion.

BLITZER: And what do you think when you hear like Michael Schmidt of "The New York Times" telling us this hour the FBI is spending an enormous amount of time going through this copilot's hard drive of his computer which they have, the pilot's hard drive, of the flight simulator that they have. There is a lot of suspicion that one or both pilots may -- repeat, may have been involved in this.

You know, what do you think? What goes through your mind when you hear that kind of discussion?

QUEST: That it is entirely proper and there will be something absolutely wrong if the actions, the friends, the family, the financial circumstances, the medical history, the psychological profiles, it would be very improper if they were not looked at in the gravest detail.

Wolf, whether we think or not that the pilots were involved the fact is they were at the helm of this craft. And we need to know what role, if any, they played in saving, attempting to save or dooming or simply being present because they were the men at the controls.

So, that is not an accusation. I will not go that extra stage but I do agree, we need to know everything we possibly can, because there's a point --

BLITZER: All right.

QUEST: There is a point about pilot involvement. Some human has to fly the plane. And frankly if it is the pilot that's involved, there's not a lot really you can do about it because ultimately, there will always be a human at the controls.

BLITZER: Richard Quest, good analysis, as usual. Thank you.

Coming up a very different kind of search and rescue effort right here in the United States. Crews in Washington state, they want to know where to look. Rain and mud is slowing down the hunt for 176 people now missing after a massive landslide.

And we'll also have more on the search for Flight 370. Planes are now in the skies over the Indian Ocean.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We'll have much more on the breaking news on Flight 370 in just a moment.

But, first, that deadly mudslide in Washington state where they're trying to find 176 people who remain unaccounted for right now.

Let's go straight to CNN's George Howell. He's on the scene for us with the very latest -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we understand today that a volunteer search and rescue worker was injured when a piece of debris was thrown up by helicopter watch over head, that debris hitting him in the head. But we understand that the injuries are minor injuries.

Still, it's a difficult job but rescuers are doing their best in the mud and muck. We understand today that that effort is also a recovery effort.


HOWELL (voice-over): The rain doesn't help. It only makes the 30 to 40-foot deep debris field even messier. The piled on mud and trees, crushed homes and cars, damaged propane and septic thanks, making the search for survivors all the more challenging.

CHIEF TRAVIS HOTS, SNOHOMISH COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: This is going to be a very long-term event. This will be something that goes into the weeks.

HOWELL: For the first time, we're hearing some of the 911 calls from the day the cliff gave way and a wall of mud destroyed a community within a matter of seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a big emergency. There is a house on 530 and a big slide and it is covering the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My neighbor's house and their neighbor's house have been completely taken out. It's collapsed on several of them and they're trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let me get that sent through. Advise them. And you know they're inside the home still?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm standing at the location right now and I can hear them tapping underneath.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And yelling at us.

HOWELL: The search in this disaster zone is now being called a rescue and recovery operation. The hope of finding anyone alive is dwindling.

But more help is on the way. The Washington state National Guard is joining the search and neighboring states like California now sending in search and rescue teams.

Volunteers are also showing up like Lisa Bishop and her especially trained dog Cody. But Lisa was told to stay back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are disaster search and rescue. So, we're specifically trained for this type of situation, and then they called us off because of the danger to the searchers.

HOWELL: On the other side of the slide, in Darrington, officials are getting more help than they need on the ground. Something mayor Dan Rankin is trying to manage.

MAYOR DAN RANKIN, DARRINGTON, WASHINGTON: At this time, we're not accepting any more volunteers here in Darrington. Thank you so much for those that have come from near and far to volunteer.

HOWELL: As families continue to wait for word about missing or unaccounted for friends or relatives, officials promise to keep searching the grounds for answers, uncertain themselves though about how long that search could take.

And the latest numbers that we have confirming with CNN, 176 people still considered missing or unaccounted for. Fourteen people died from this mudslide. We are expecting a news conference expected to happen right about now. That has been pushed back to 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. We will bring you the latest information, of course, as we get it, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. George, thanks very much. Good luck to all the folks out there.

Coming up, we'll have more on the breaking news. The search resumes for the missing Flight 370. The details coming up next.


BLITZER: Take another quick look at the developments in the mystery of Flight 370, breaking developments right now. The search for wreckage is back under way after a 24 (AUDIO GAP) because of bad weather. Australian officials say a total of 12 aircraft will comb for possible debris.

Equipment to find the plane's black box was due to arrive in Perth, Australia, just a little while ago from the United States. The locator beacon on the black box is expected to stop working in less than two weeks.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.