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Hijacked Cuban Plane with 18 People Aboard Down in International WatersAired September 19, 2000 - 11:38 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, time to recap now. Again 18 people on board a Russian-made plane left Cuban air space just about two hours ago, local time 9:37 a.m. Again two hours from the Cuban air space, the pilot radioed back to control on the ground, saying they had been hijacked.
Word we are getting the plane went down in the Florida Straits just about 60 miles south of the Florida Keys, Marquesas Key, south of Florida there.
Again, no word on what happened to that plane, if it went down intentionally, or if it had to go into the water in a crash simulation.
The U.S. Air Force says two F-15 fighter jets had responded after being contacted by Cuban authorities that the plane was indeed en route rather to Florida and the Miami, Florida area.
Let's go to Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
Jamie, you have been watching this and more information possibly about the cutter and also the two F-15s that were involved.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Pentagon and the U.S. military and the Coast Guard in particular are basically in a response mode at this point. It's true, as you said, that a pair of F-15 jet fighters was scrambled out of Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. That is the Florida Air National Guard.
That is the routine mission. If there is an unknown aircraft approaching the United States for those fighter planes to go up and if nothing else take a look at it, and get the eyes on it.
But before they could do that, apparently the plane did drop below radar and out of sight into the water. The Coast Guard is responding. They say they have ships and aircraft en route. The closest ship is a Coast Guard cutter. It is expected to arrive about the location of the suspected crash at about 12:30 Eastern time, or just under an hour from now.
The Coast Guard says it also has rescue helicopters and planes that may get to the scene sooner, to be able to try to take a look to see if there are any crash wreckage or survivors. But at this point, very little information from the Pentagon about actually what transpired before this plane went down. They are right now in a search and rescue operation, primarily coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard -- Bill.
HEMMER: Jamie, is it safe to say the exact location has not been pinpointed based on what we know out of the Pentagon then. Well, I don't know. I haven't been given the exact location. You know, they are proceeding to a site where they believe the plane went down.
How they were able to determine that, I don't know if they have the precise location at this point.
HEMMER: Indeed, those two F-15s certainly they can travel quite quickly, about 650 at sea level -- 650 miles an hour. It's quite possible, though, if indeed they drop below radar, they may have lost location for that Russian-made plane.
Jamie, thanks, we will be back in touch, all right?
Quick break here. Back with more in two minutes.
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