ad info

Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  





Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's is a goner


4:30pm ET, 4/16









CNN Websites
Networks image

Breaking News

Gulf Air Airbus A320 Crashes in the Persian Gulf

Aired August 23, 2000 - 3:51 p.m. ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We want to update you on our breaking news coverage of the Gulf Airbus A320 bound from Cairo to Bahrain. It crashed just a few miles short of a landing strip at Bahrain International Airport today.

We're going to go straight to Bahrain TV and listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): ... as we haven't -- we have not looked into this. We found an identity card of a Kuwaiti passenger. We are now collecting the luggage of the passengers, and that would also help identifying...

PHILLIPS: You're watching Bahrain TV there in the process of interviewing a witness who was at the scene of the accident. That's what we're listening to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I believe we are still waiting -- we are still looking for the black box. It is now dark. But once the light starts tomorrow morning, we will intensify our searches and we hope to find the black box.

QUESTION (through translator): (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all the best for you and we hope that you succeed in your work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Thank you, and I would like to thank all the people in the area who have helped us, and I would like to extend our condolences again.

PHILLIPS: You are watching Bahrain TV. They, of course, are following the crash of the Airbus that was scheduled from Cairo to Bahrain, flight No. 072. It crashed into the waters of the Persian Gulf a few hours ago. Officials, the latest from Bahrain, say one of the plane's engines was reportedly on fire: 144 passengers on board.

Right now, there is no word of any survivors. They're in the middle of the rescue mission right now. But rescue crews do report finding some bodies and debris from the crash.

Elements of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is helping with the rescue efforts, the Bahrain coast guard, and other sea rescue teams. We now are going to turn to Bill Waldock. He is a professor of aeronautical science in Prescott, Arizona. He joins us to talk about the -- the aircraft.

I understand, professor, that you're an expert on this aircraft. Does this surprise you that it crashed, first of all?

BILL WALDOCK, EMBRY RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: Well, first off, any crash is a surprise. Early on in the history of the airplane there were some crashes -- Air France in Paris, Air India, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Strasbourg -- that were related to human factor interface, literally matching man to the machine. Since then, it's had a relatively good safety record.

PHILLIPS: We have talked a lot about the safety record, only six accidents since its inception. Well, any accident is terrible. But I say there are six accidents since the inception, and I guess since it has been in the air, those are -- that's a pretty good safety record, isn't it?

WALDOCK: Well, it's above the average, certainly. And particularly with all of the systems on the aircraft that assists the pilot in the event of an emergency, it's an airplane that is perhaps a little bit better able to handle a major system failure.

PHILLIPS: Now, professor, since the plane was developed, have there been any directives issued to make any mandatory changes?

WALDOCK: Oh, I'm sure there have. Almost any airplane once it comes into service we begin to learn things about it, things that need to be improved, and as we learn those things, then we produce air worthiness directives and the other mechanisms we use to change things to improve the aircraft.

PHILLIPS: We're also told that the pilot tried to land this aircraft twice. On the third attempt, it crashed into the Persian Gulf. What do you make of this?

WALDOCK: Well, first and foremost, I'd wonder what caused him to not be able to land the first time.

PHILLIPS: Is that unusual? I mean, usually, if there are reports that the engine was on fire, is that unusual that it would be very difficult to land or...

WALDOCK: Well, it would depend on where he was. If he was extremely high, he might have been attempting to get the airplane down and simply been too high to do it safely. That might have caused him to go around and try again.

Oftentimes weather may be an issue. From what I've heard, the weather was not bad at the time that the airplane crashed. So I guess one of the first questions is: Why was he trying to land and was unable to? And then secondly, if he did indeed have a fire, why didn't he get the airplane down on the ground as fast as he could?

PHILLIPS: Lots of questions remain. Bill Waldock, professor of aeronautical science at Prescott, Arizona, thank you.

Natalie, we're going to go to you.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: James Martone is at the Cairo Airport. This plane took off from Cairo, Egypt, and Mr. Martone, what time did this plane take off, and can you tell -- tell us anything about whether there were any delays or any problems reported with this plane that had to be checked out before takeoff?

JAMES MARTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you what's happening here at Cairo Airport so far. Actually, it's a lot of confusion as family members start to come in and find out that people they had put on that left at what was 4:45 in the afternoon our time here in Cairo. So far, we're not being told of any delays, of any mechanical problems or anything so far. All we know is that, that plane took off at approximately 4:45 Cairo time. Now, people are walking in. You may be able to hear the sort of confusion as people walk into the airport.

They've heard on the news that a plane went down, that a Gulf Air plane went down, so they're coming in and being told by -- I think when they see so many journalists, they know something's wrong. And then they're being told here that, that plane did disappear.

There's one man that came in, and he's an Egyptian man. Marzouk (ph) is his name. And he had two relatives who are going back -- going to Bahrain. They were on the plane. There's also a young woman who came in and collapsed, and she was unable to talk and then was pulled away and didn't -- didn't want to talk. But we're told by people around her that she had children on that plane.

So at this point, in terms of concrete information as to whether that plane was delayed or not, there's nothing. I am just in the airport where there are people, relatives coming in, finding out that the plane has crashed and being overwhelmed.

ALLEN: Mr. Martone, do have you any information on how many people were from -- how many Egyptians were on this flight? You say there's a number -- a good number of family members coming to the airport.

MARTONE: There is a report. There are people at the information desk here saying it was 63. So 63 Egyptians is what they're saying. When asked where they're getting that, they're saying they -- some people said from security. Others say that they've even heard it on the news.

It's not -- we're told that it's 63, or at least that number. Those would be Egyptians, according to these people, going to -- back to work, working in Bahrain.

So family members so far that have come in are Egyptians. We're waiting here and expecting probably more family members to come, and there are more people walking in now as I'm speaking to you.

So yes,the initial reports are that there were more than 60 Egyptians on that plane.

ALLEN: James Martone at the Cairo Airport, thank you so much.

Again, Gulf Air Flight 072 crashed after it took off there from Cairo. About a couple of hours ago, it took off from Cairo at 4:45. No known survivors at this time, 143 people aboard.

We'll continue to bring you developments.



Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.