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Plane Crashed as Typhoon Approached TaiwanAired October 31, 2000 - 1:33 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are continuing to cover the crash of a Singapore Airlines plane bound for Los Angeles at Taipei's Chiang Kai-Shek Airport in Taiwan a little over two hours ago. There is still confusion about whether or not people died aboard this plane when it crashed and burst into flames, broke into three pieces on the runway at Chiang Kai-Shek Airport. According to eyewitnesses on the scene, people have died in this crash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DIAZ, CRASH SURVIVOR: There were people burning on the flight. I only saw about 20 people, I only saw about 20 people -- I don't know -- they put us in a room. But there were lots of fatalities.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Can you...
DIAZ: The plane split in half.
ALLEN: It split in half?
DIAZ: Yeah. The tail end of the plane broke completely off and it hit and slid around. Some of the people that were in the tail are with me right now. Some people got out of the tail. There were a lot of fatalities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATERS: Hospital officials in Taipei confirm to CNN at least one death in the emergency room. The latest information we have from Jason Blatt, correspondent in Taipei, watching closely this story develop, indicates 82 were injured, 16 walked away from the crash, one serious injury, 96 still unaccounted for. This story is still very young indeed.
We're continuing to follow it throughout the day. And we will keep you posted on developments -- Natalie.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go now to Orelon Sydney, who has got the weather situation there in Taiwan, and it is quite a situation. Orelon?
ORELON SYDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It certainly is. This is a major situation. It is almost a major hurricane making land fall in the southern portion of the island of Taipei. Here is the center of the typhoon, hurricane. It is about a Category 2. The winds we saw about 90 knots sustained.
Now, you are noticing that this is sort of scraping along the eastern edge of the island now. So very, very strong thunder storms occur out in the outer rain bands. That is really one of the most dangerous parts of the hurricane, as they come in-land, they generally will produce tornadoes, possibly very heavy rain, and very strong wind.
It looks to me, as Taipei is about here, that they did get a very, very strong rain band right over the airport area as they took off.
Now that can create a couple of situations. I want to try to explain this to you. This, imagine the top of an airplane wing. This is how planes fly. What you find is that as you speed up along the runway, what you are trying to do is get the wind speed fast enough to get the wind to flow over the wing faster than it is flowing under the wing. That is going to create higher pressure underneath the airplane wing, lower pressure on the top. That is lift. That is what pushes the airplane up in the air. And you have to keep the airplane at a certain speed to continue the lift. If you don't, it is called stalling and the plane falls out of the sky.
As you are taking off, if you get wind from a different direction or at a different speed that really creates problems because the pilot then cannot compensate for what has happened. He doesn't have enough time to perhaps make the engine -- to balance the engines in a different way and then the plane -- boom -- falls out of the sky.
The problem with a hurricane situation, a typhoon situation, is that the winds in the outer rain band are extremely chaotic. You can't count on them for 10 seconds at a time. So it is very likely that the wind speeds change direction. It is very likely they change direction and speed.
It is just really a terrible chaotic situation to try and get a plane off the ground in this particular situation.
We will notice, as you head through the afternoon, that the weather is actually going to get worse in Taipei. The center of the storm now just about here, across the southeastern portion of the island.
As this heads northward, you are going to see more and more thunderstorms, stronger winds at the center of the storm, where some of the strongest winds are, pass right over the airport area.
So the conditions for recovery are going to actually be worse perhaps than they were at the time of the crash.
Do remember that the outer rain band winds can be as strong or stronger than the central winds. So we could have had winds easily to hurricane force, switching direction. That would be a very, very difficult situation for a plane to take off -- Natalie. ALLEN: All right. Orelon Sydney from the weather department.
And just a reminder that we still don't know the exact cause of this crash, of course so early on, just happening a couple of hours ago. But many people have commented on the serious weather conditions at the time of take off.
We do know 159 passengers on board, and 20 crew members on Flight 006 bound for Los Angeles.
We expect a Los Angeles-based news conference from Singapore Airlines any moment now. We will bring you live coverage.
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