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CNN Today

Gulf Air Crash: Multinational Investigation Under Way

Aired August 24, 2000 - 1:30 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: Our top story, the grim search for answers in the Persian Gulf. The shattered remains of Gulf Air Flight 072 rest in shallow waters just a mile or so from Bahrain International Airport, the flight's intended destination. The cause of yesterday's accident, which claimed 143 lives, is a mystery, but the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders both have been recovered, as have all the victims' bodies. Identifications and a multinational investigation are under way.

The plane was an Airbus A320, an aviation workhorse, but one that's now had five deadly crashes.

Joining us now with more insight is a person who was with us yesterday while we were covering this crash.

And Carl, the sad thing about it is not much more is known as we knew yesterday. It's such a mystery surrounding what was happening.

CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Natalie. Natalie, it is. There's a lot that isn't known about it, but I've learned a bit, a preliminary indication from talking to a source who is familiar with the investigation that's going on.

Apparently -- and this is sketchy information -- but apparently the crew made the first approach and was a bit high on the first approach, went around for a second attempt at a landing and was off the center line and came around. And during the process of coming around for a third attempt at landing, the plane disappeared off the radar scopes at about 1,000 feet of altitude.

And that is a little bit of information. Again, this is early, unconfirmed, sketchy information, but it is from a source who is familiar with the investigation, what is going on there.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending at least two, possibly more, investigators over to assist in this investigation. It is not a U.S. investigation, not a U.S. aircraft, a U.S. flag carrier, or a U.S. manufactured aircraft, so the role they will be is one of an invitation from the government to come over and help out.

A go-team has been sent from the -- from Airbus, from their headquarters in Toulouse, France. That team should be on the scene by now. The U.S. NTSB team leaving today to go over there. But experts from Airbus over to help them sort out what is going on. The first order of business, Natalie -- and we really won't know for sure any of the details until we hear from the cockpit voice recorder, see the information from the flight data recorder. They have been recovered, as we know, and we saw pictures of them being brought out of that incredibly clear water there. And you see them being brought out and being put in water. And they are kept in the water that they are recovered in so that there is no deterioration as they dry. They're taken to laboratories that read them out. Of course, they can be read out here in Washington at the National Transportation Safety Board, but there are other areas around the world where they can be read out.

And they will be taken there. And when get the information, when the investigators get the information from those two units, they'll know a lot more about what caused that plane to crash.

I'm Carl Rochelle, CNN, reporting live from Washington.

ALLEN: And, Carl, does anyone know anything more about the pilot?

ROCHELLE: Not anything more about the pilots, except they were trained and they were qualified to fly this aircraft. We have not had a number of details here, again. If it were the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA, we probably would have some details of the pilot at this point.

But working -- it's a different system and they are working through that. Ultimately, we will learn more about the pilots because human factors is one of the areas that investigators always zero in on. And that is the qualifications of the crew, the training, when they had their last physical examination, when they had their last check ride, how much time they had in the aircraft, how much experience each side had.

Those are all details that we'll find out, but we don't know that information yet, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Carl Rochelle in Washington. Thanks again, Carl.

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