tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 22, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
air disaster. another plane full of passengers crashes on landing. nearly 160 are dead. but, tonight, there are survivors. mile by mile. our extraordinary journey to the heart of the growing oil spill in the gulf. texas showdown. that controversy over textbooks, could it be coming to a school near you? and pac-man fever. then and now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. for the third time in less than two months there has been a major air disaster overseas. the latest happened early today in western india, when an air india express boeing 737 filled with people careened off a hill top runway, exploding into flames and killing nearly everyone on board. and just as in recent fatal crashes in libya, and russia, this one happened during a landing attempt. as investigators from india and the u.s. begin the search for answers at the airport in mangalore, the focus is also on the flight's miracle survivors, who, tonight, are telling their stories. from london, nbc's kyra simmons has the latest. >> reporter: the boeing 737 overshot the runway, plunging into a valley, bursting into flames. the tail one of the few parts of the aircraft still recognizable. firefighters and villagers went over difficult terrain to reach the wreckage.
many died still strapped to their seats. a local reporter told nbc news -- >> one family lost 16 members, one single family losing 16 people on that flight and among the dead, at least 20 children according to one of the eyewitnesses. >> reporter: amid the tragedy, a moment of hope. a child carried from the plane, covered in foam to douse the flames, put into the arms of medics and taken to a hospital. the burns were so severe, it is not known if the child is among those who survived. surviveers like this little girl and others with frightening stories. the plane was filled with smoke, says ummer farook mohammed. there was total chaos. part of the plane broke off. i jumped out. there was another passenger in front of me, so i pushed him out. he believes a tire burst. another said it felt as if the plane hit something. mangalore is a hill top airport where pilots report that
landings can be tricky. but officials deny it is dangerous. >> i would like to emphasize that from 2006 there have been over 32,000 landings in this mangalore runway. >> reporter: they say there was no may day call from the pilots. >> they are experienced pilots that have gone into this airport a number of times. the real question will be what was different this time than any of the other times they made this approach and landing? >> reporter: among the rescuers at the crash scene there were also relatives. people who had come to the airport to meet loved ones, and rushed to find them in the wreckage. they are now left looking for answers. and tonight, lester, investigators are working to find those answers, trying to figure out just what went wrong here. the working theory right now is pilot error. lester? >> kyra simmons tonight, thank you. the plane involved in this crash was an american-made boeing 737. tonight representatives from
boeing and the ntsb are en route to the scene. joining us now for more insight into the crash is former ntsb chairman mark rosenkur who you saw in kyra's report. what can american experts bring to this investigation? >> lester this is a very seasoned group of investigators that have had a great deal of experience in working in overseas crashes. they'll be working closely with the indian authorities to take a look at operations, structures, survival factors, all of the things that come into play when you're doing an investigation like this. >> weather is not considered a factor right now. what factors could typically lead to a plane overshoot a runway on landing? >> there are a number of things that could go wrong on landing. perhaps the pilots were going too fast. perhaps they went too long on this runway. perhaps the reverse thrusters had not been applied at the appropriate time. they'll be looking at all of these things to find out what happened. >> three fatal airline crashes overseas in just over a month, polish plane in russia, the crash in libya, all during landing. are there some common threads we
should worry about, mark? >> i don't know if we have any common threads yet. we're very early in the investigative process. during the months i am confident that the investigators will be looking for those common threads if they exist. >> mark rosenkur tonight, thank you for your insight. we turn now to the growing oil spill in the gulf. we have three reports tonight beginning with nbc's chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson who is just back from a journey to the heart of that spill. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. the oil is strangling the marshes south of venice and it is coating the beaches in grand isle, but to get a different perspective on the scope of this disaster, we went out into the gulf today, and headed for where the deepwater horizon rig erupted in that deadly fire. from a distance it look like a mini city over the leak site, and the journey there is quite disturbing. we leave from venice, travel down the mississippi river, and out the northeast pass, heading
to where the oil still gushes. before you can see it, you can smell oil near the rig's 12 miles out, and in the water, traces of the trouble to come. here, 14 miles from northeast pass, we are surrounded by water with a noticeably heavy sheen, and we're seeing our first small pieces of oil and dispersant. at the 16-mile mark, the waves have a sickening red cast, no longer glistening, they are dulled by the crude. the oil here is a brownish red and forms huge rivers in the ocean. our captain says the gulf is bleeding. 26 miles out, the gulf is a toxic soup, with a vile aroma. the oil is everywhere. it is a red sea with patches of blue. but as we get closer to the site, the oil is backed with a thick sheen as far as you can see. behind me you can see the discoverer enterprise, that's the ship to the left with the tall column.
it is collecting the oil. to the right, those two columns are drill rigs. they're creating the relief well which may be the only way to stop the leak. we get within three miles of the site. you can see the natural gas coming up from the insertion tube being flared off. as other ships prepare to put heavy mud and cement into the well next week, and end these growing patches of pollution threatening louisiana's precious coast. now, one of the many unanswered questions here is just how much oil is coming out at the bottom of the sea. bp estimates 5,000 barrels a day. there is a federal task force coming up with its own number, and we could learn that in the next day or two. lester? >> quite a sobering journey. anne thompson in venice, louisiana, thank you. at the white house, president obama addressed the same crisis today, taking new steps to find out what went so wrong and how to prevent a repeat. the president's actions may be too little too late for many
frustrated and angry residents of the gulf. nbc's mike viqueira is at the white house for us tonight. mike? >> reporter: good evening, lester. tonight the white house announced that a top delegation of cabinet officials and senators are going to be heading down to the gulf on monday to get a firsthand look at the spill. but this comes as a rising chorus of critics are demanding that the white house step in and do more to control that spill. as the tide of frustration with the gulf begins to reach washington, today in his weekly address the president sought to keep the high ground. >> i want to know what worked, and what didn't work in our response to the disaster. >> reporter: mr. obama announced a new panel, tapping former florida senator bob graham, and william reilly, who ran the epa during the "exxon valdez" spill to lead it. >> the purpose of this commission is to consider both the root causes of the disaster, and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster from happening again. >> reporter: but that report won't come for six months.
meanwhile, after repeated failures by bp to stop the leak -- >> you have every piece of information. >> reporter: -- the white house is on the defensive. >> there is nothing that we think can and should be done that isn't being done. nothing. absolutely nothing. >> reporter: critics are demanding the government take operational control away from bp. but this morning on "today," the president's point man in the gulf backed the oil giant. >> no, i think we understand where they're going. >> reporter: and there is mounting political fallout as well. >> i call this the obama oil spill timeline. >> reporter: republicans have sharpened their attacks. now after ten congressional hearings in the last two weeks, one gulf state republican is calling for a halt. >> it is a time for committee hearings, it is for after the well has been tapped, no the before. >> reporter: with frustration mounting, that is a moment that can't come soon enough for all involved. mike viqueira, nbc news, the white house.
>> reporter: this is my sell kosinski in the bayous of louisiana. as days pass, oil seeps in and coming over the waves to stop it feels like moving underwater. >> it is not the oil. >> reporter: the governor frustrated called on the army corps of engineers to allow contractors he says are ready to go to start building barriers immediately. >> we want the u.s. army corps of engineers to approve our dredging, our sand boom plan to keep this oil out of our marshes, off of our shores. >> reporter: today, the corps responded it is working on the permits to do so, calling it a top priority. >> the corps of engineers should have done this 20 years ago. don't wait until now. now it is too late. it is too late. >> reporter: for 62 years, this shrimper watched the bayous this richg i shrinking, said he asked the army corps why they can't protect this sanctuary like no other? >> my grandkids aren't going to have this to do and they want to do it. >> reporter: and every day, people come with their own
ideas. >> what we have out there now is crude oil sitting on top of the water. >> reporter: dr. greg booth grew up here. his boys fish here. his powder sorb picks up oil. the epa gave it the okay two days ago. problem is, getting anyone to listen. >> there is so many people involved trying to get ideas to them that they don't, you know, they have to be able to decide, is this real, is it not? >> reporter: they are willing to try. >> dip your whole hand in oil, dad? >> reporter: -- to do something for the water world they love, while others make decisions far away. just as someone's idea would need to be looked at and approved environmentally before it could be used out here, so does this state plan to build sand berms around some of the islands. that's going to take a couple of days. bp's plan to top kill the gusher also going to take more time. and for people here to have to watch and wait, the sense of frustration is tough to put into words, lester. >> michelle kosinski along the
gulf tonight. thank you. there has been an attack in afghanistan, on the largest nato base in the southern part of that country. nbc's tom aspell is in kabul tonight with more. tom? >> reporter: lester, insurgents launched a barrage of rockets against kandahar air field just after dark and then followed it with an unsuccessful assault against the base's northern perimeter. nato spokesmen say there have been a number of casualties. nato and the taliban have been attacking each other in anticipation of a major ground assault around kandahar expected in the next few weeks. this is the third attack against nato forces in the past six days, on tuesday, a suicide bomber killed six nato soldiers including five americans, in an attack on a convoy in kabul. and an american contractor was killed at bagram air field north of kabul in a ground assault on wednesday.
lester? >> tom aspell tonight in kabul, thank you. this was graduation day at west point. many of the cadets who graduated today will soon be at war in afghanistan. and today, president obama told them the u.s. needs allies there, that america can't do the job alone. this year's top two cadets, by the way, are women. >> i think it is pretty reflective of the academy. there is so many opportunities for everyone. >> we both were given the same opportunities that we could demonstrate that women can cut it at west point. >> west point accepted its first women in 1976, a total of 135 women graduated today. up next, as "nightly news" continues this saturday, what they just did in texas, whether a debate over textbooks is coming to a school near you. and later, still munching after all these years.
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white-washing of history. >> we don't want to read these. my gosh. they deal with hispanics, hispanic issues, the alamo, civil rights, you know? just our participation, where we worked together, no, these are not acceptable. >> reporter: the texas state board of education's block pushed through texas rewrites which they insist were long overdue. >> i feel very relieved that we were able to go through that much amount of work and to come up with a very positive majority vote in favor of adopt the document. >> reporter: among the changes, textbooks must now include mention of the conservative resurgence of the '80s and '90s, the national rifle association, the moral majority, and include the idea that the founding fathers may not have intended a separation of church and state. even some vocabulary has been changed, references to the slave trade would be changed to the atlantic triangular trade.
because nearly 5 million textbooks are purchased by the texas school board, for years publishers could offer the same books at a discount nationwide. but today some question whether the controversial textbooks will ever cross state lines. why? with advances in digital publishing, textbooks now can be tailored for individual states and school districts. such as california, the state with the largest student population. and politicians there have already introduced legislation to block the texas rewrites from ever reaching a california classroom. today, some educators call the curriculum changes a disservice to children. >> we should have common standards on what social studies is and then allow teachers to do their jobs as opposed to having education so politicized. >> reporter: but some conservatives applaud what texas has done. >> they're trying to tilt this back to the center from a heavy
leftward liberal bias that is endemic in most history books in this nation. >> reporter: no matter what happens nationwide, the social studies standards that just passed in texas will be in place for ten years, until the school board votes again on curriculum for the lone star state. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. when we come back, what this week's wild ride in the stock market means. and the youngest person ever to reach the peak of mt. everest. i hope i get a chance to put two scoops!™ of raisins in some boxes. you know what will really get us in the spirit? ♪ 99 boxes of raisin bran crunch ♪ ♪ if you're nice to me i'll share some with you ♪ ♪ you take one down ( and pass it around ) ♪ ♪ 98 boxes of raisin bran crunch ♪ three tasty ingredients, one great combination. ♪ raisin bran crunch! from kellogg! so forget return on investment. let's talk return on insurance. switch your car insurance to allstate,
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u.s. today for the mothers of three young american hikers jailed in iran. the moms did get to see their children for the first time in nearly a year. but they were not able on this trip to get them released. a 13-year-old boy from california has become the youngest ever to climb mt. everest. jordan romero hiked to the summit with his father and then called his mom back home to say he had made it. romero scaled mount kill man juroro at age 9 and is on a quest to reach the highest peaks on all seven continents. tonight investors across the country are wondering what just happened this week. cnbc's trish regan joins us tonight to sort out what this latest wild ride on wall street may mean. trish, good evening. >> reporter: all this volatility, good evening, lester, is really a result of one major thing. and that's the european union. basically the european union and the euro as we know it right now are under attack. they are being threatened. and that's because you have all these different countries, lester, that didn't necessarily
play by the same economic rules. so when it comes to greece, when it comes to portugal, when it comes to spain, countries whose economies are truly struggling, they haven't -- they haven't played by the same kind of rules as say, france and germany. it is a little bit like greece was the subprime borrower, such as we know here in the u.s., and the banks over in europe are getting nervous that that subprime borrower, greece is essentially going to walk away from the mortgage that they owe the bank. and so that's essentially the root of the problem. and so it has created this drying up of the market where it is getting expensive for greece, pour portugal, for spain, for italy, the so-called piigs, to go to the banks and get money to finance all their debt. that's really the crux of the problem, and that's threatening things here because investors are now getting very, very worried and they're starting to really be -- taking -- taking an
aversion here to risk. now, i do want to point out, lester, there is a little bit of a silver lining here for the u.s. in the way of perhaps lower oil prices. so that could be some good news. >> good news especially with the holiday coming up. trish regan, thanks. when we come back, game on. celebrating the video game that changed everything. host: does elmer fudd have trouble with the letter r? elmer: shhhh, be very quiet; i'm hunting wabbits. director (o/c): ok cut!!!! uh...it's i'm hunting "rabbits," elmer. let's try that again. elmer: shhhh, i'm hunting wabbits. director (o/c): cuuuuut! rabbits. elmer: wabbits director (o/c): rabbits. elmer: wabbits. director (o/c): rabbits with an "r." elmer: aw...this diwector's starting to wub me the wong way. vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.
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video game legend around the world. nbc's lee cowan has our story. ♪ i got pac-man fever >> reporter: it is much as part of the '80s at mullets and pa parachute pants but they went out of style. pac-man never did. >> young people play it, old people play it and i play it. >> reporter: in 1980, 2 it was truly a revolution. for kids used to this, pac-man offered this. >> it was cutting edge at the time. >> reporter: it brought in a billion dollars in its first year. one quarter at a time. why was it such a big deal? >> it was a different piece and it was something that everybody could do. >> reporter: compared to the shoot them up, knock them out big screens of today, pac-man seemed kinder, gentler. >> it was a -- like a little pizza going around eating up little dots. that's not threatening and it is fun. >> reporter: it became a cultural phenomenon, spawning everything from pillows to neckties. and that song --
♪ pac-man fever pac-man fever ♪ >> reporter: went to number nine on billboard hot 100 charts. >> oh, no. >> reporter: it was our national obsession. and for some, it still is. >> there is no blood, doesn't explode, just go wa, wa, wa. >> reporter: jonathan snap is a pac-man champ, pretty lonely title, though, when it comes to the ladies. >> i sit here and play and they just sort of sit there and watch. i need concentration, it is my thing. >> reporter: yep, he's single. >> oh! >> reporter: the bad part about pac-man's longevity is if you play it in public, it sort of telegraphs your age, but the good part about that longevity is these days you can still play pac-man, only in private, no one will know, because there is an app for it on your iphone. and i'm still bad. then there is the ipad version. and if you logged on to google today, you could play a game before surfing the web, a long way from the days of atari.
the fact is, after 30 years, pac-man is still addicting, and still only costs a quarter. who knew the little guy is even inflation proof? lee cowan, nbc news, los angeles. >> game over. that's "nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" and right back here tomorrow evening. good night, everyone. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com