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Pipeline Explosion Kills 10 at Nearby Campground

Aired August 21, 2000 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities in New Mexico are investigating another kind of disaster. A natural gas line exploded Saturday along the Pecos River near Carlsbad. Flames rained onto a campground, killing 10 people. Half the victims were children.

CNN's Jim Hill joins us from Carlsbad with more on the investigation -- Jim.

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, actually we have two aspects of this case going on at the same time. First, of course, the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into just what caused that huge fireball last Saturday morning. At the same time, 150 miles away in Lubbock, Texas, the only two survivors, a man and his daughter-in-law, cling to life as doctors try to save them with their severe burns.

Now this huge fireball erupted at about 5:30 Saturday morning. A dozen campers were along the Pecos River fishing at that time. Some of them still in their sleeping bags. The main broke about 200 yards east of their encampment. The leaking gas came toward them, apparently ignited by some unknown factor within their encampment. Six people, killed instantly, six others rushed to the hospital, but four of them died along the way.

Investigators say in this area the pipe is underground, anywhere from eight to 15 feet. That is the reason there was a huge crater that was caused by this eruption. But also it's perhaps a reason that the campers never knew there was a leak. The gas may have been coming up through the ground and creeping toward them unnoticed.

All of this, though, to be determined. Also to be determined, whether or not those two critically burned people will survive. The man, burns over 60 percent of his body, the woman, his daughter-in- law, burns over 20 percent of her body. Both, again, in critical condition.

I'm Jim Hill, CNN, reporting live south of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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