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Hijacked Cuban Plane With 18 Aboard Down in International WatersAired September 19, 2000 - 11:44 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, we continue our coverage of the Soviet-built plane out of Cuba that was hijacked. It is now down in the waters between Florida and Cuba; 18 people on board, as we understand from the U.S. Coast Guard. We do not know the condition of the plane or the people on board. But the Coast Guard is on its way to the rescue and expects to be reaching the site where the plane did land in the water about an hour from now.
A side bar to the story, Jose Basulto, who is with the group Brothers to the Rescue, told our affiliate WSVN in Miami that his group, Brothers to the Rescue, plans its own rescue effort for the people on board this plane. Let's go ahead and listen and here what Mr. Basulto had to say to WSVN a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE BASULTO, BROTHERS TO THE RESCUE: And I'm on my way to the airport at this time with some of the pilots there to launch a mission to look for the distressed aircraft. And we're also trying to find out more on the probable area where it might have ditched, if it did.
UNIDENTIFIED WSVN ANCHOR: Now, you talk about the plane ditching. We know there was limited fuel on board. And we also here that perhaps this was a plane outfitted for water operations. Tell us what you're thinking is on the possible survivability of this sort of ditching?
BASULTO: That's an aircraft that is capable STOL, that is short takeoff and landing, and they can fly very slow. They can ditch and survive. However, it depends on the number of people and if there are young people or older people, children and all that. That makes for a very disastrous possibility. But we're going to go there and try to do our best to locate them. We're trying to find out information at this time on the probable area where they may be.
UNIDENTIFIED WSVN ANCHOR: The Coast Guard is telling us that this happened 60 miles south of the Marquesas Key and the Dry Tortugas area. We know that, of course, you've been on countless missions looking for rafters in the Florida Straits. What can you tell us generally about that area.
BASULTO: You're saying it's in the South Cacus (ph) area that the aircraft has gone down. The possibility for us performing a mission there is very unlikely because the distance is much too great. We can make it there. However, it will depend on the area where the aircraft went down. That is more within the capabilities of the aircraft the Coast Guard has, and it's most likely going to be them the ones that are going to be doing the search for the survivors.
UNIDENTIFIED WSVN ANCHOR: What type of water is that in terms of currents, depth? What can you tell us about the conditions of the straits in that area about 60 miles south of the Dry Tortugas?
BASULTO: Oh, it's Dry Tortugas. Dry Tortugas, that's an area that we can cover. We've covered that in the past. And that's what I suspected the area would have been. So we will be going, then, to that area. And this is just very safe conditions that we've been dealing with in the past. It depends on the winds today what the water conditions are. The aircraft is capable of ditching there. And, as I said, it's possible to survive that ditching. That is a slow-flying aircraft so it can make a successful ditching. The success, of course, will depend whether they have any kind of flotation devices with them and that we find them as quickly as possible. And that's what we're going to try to do.
UNIDENTIFIED WSVN ANCHOR: And, of course, weather is a factor. There is a tropical wave moving through the area South of Cuba. Have you had any weather advisories for your planned mission?
BASULTO: No, as a matter of fact, the mission is being planned at Opa-locka Airport. Yermoladas (ph) is taking care of it right now. I'm on my way to fly the mission together with another pilot that will be meeting me their, Mr. Bill Schuss (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: Once again, we are listening to Jose Basulto, he with Brothers to the Rescue, in response to the downed plane, the hijacked plane that was leaving Cuba on its way to the U.S., went down in the water. The Coast Guard, we should say, more importantly, is on its way to that same down plane, expects to be there within the hour. Eighteen people on board. No word on the condition of the plane or the people at this time.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Jamie McIntyre reporting that cutter should arrive about 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, which is just about 43 minutes from now.
And, again, the exact location where the plane went down not known right now. And, again, we don't know the condition of the 18 people on board either, so we'll keep our fingers crossed here.
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