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CNN Today

U.S.S. Cole's Wounded Receiving Prompt Care

Aired October 13, 2000 - 2:00 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: Victims of the explosion that cut a huge gash in the Cole started the final journey home today. At the same time, FBI specialists headed to the scene to investigate the apparent terrorist attack.

Live this hour from Germany; Norfolk, Virginia; and the Pentagon. Let's begin at the Pentagon. Here's CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

What's the latest, Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the investigators are just getting started on the ground in Yemen where they are looking for evidence to confirm their theory that this blast was, in fact, the work of terrorists who were attempting to take the lives of the U.S. soldiers on the destroyer Cole.

Meanwhile, plans are also underway here at the Pentagon for support for the families of the slain soldiers -- sailors, rather, and also a memorial service to take place next week, which would include the secretary of defense, the joint chiefs chairman, the top navy official, such as the chief of naval operations -- all of those planning on going on now for a service to take place in Norfolk.

At this point, it looks like the bodies of the victims of this attack, which -- five of which arrived today in Ramstein Airbase in Germany, will be transported to Norfolk, Virginia, instead of the traditional receiving point of Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, but those plans are still being made.

At this point, the investigators have very little to say, except that it's clear that this explosion did not take place on the destroyer Cole but, rather, next to it, from this small boat. That's evident from the examination of the hole that was blasted in the side of the hull. And just off the cuff, some people here at the Pentagon who've taken a look at this damage have suggested to me that it's damage to the extent that it would take a blast of probably 400 to 500 pounds of high explosives in order to do this kind of damage.

So Navy divers will be looking in the water for the wreckage from the small boat that pulled up next to it, looking for evidence that, in fact, it was a bomb on there that caused this damage and loss of life. The latest death toll is seven sailors confirmed dead; 10 missing, presumed dead. Those relatives have already been told that their loved ones are, likely, dead. So it looks like there will be at least 17 deaths and more than three dozen injured from this suspected terrorist attack in Yemen -- Lou.

WATERS: And Jamie, about the injured, yesterday about this time we were reporting that a medivac plane and medical teams were being flown in. What is the nature of that operation now?

MCINTYRE: Well, a lot of that assistance has arrived; in fact, two additional warships have arrived on the scene -- U.S. warships in order to provide support and protection. The U.S.S. Haws, which is a frigate, and another Aegis destroyer the U.S.S. -- I'm sorry, I've lost it in my notes here, but another destroyer has also arrived.

A lot of the more seriously injured people have already been evacuated to hospitals. As a matter, one pentagon official was particularly laudatory today in talking about the assistance that the French government provided in the initial hours right after the incident. Eleven of the most critically injured U.S. sailors were flown by the French to a hospital in Djibouti and Pentagon officials this morning are -- this afternoon, rather, are crediting that quick action with saving some American lives.

So, the U.S. government, grateful there, for the assistance -- the quick assistance of the French in the aftermath of this attack.

WATERS: And all the notifications have been made?

MCINTYRE: Well, all of the families have been notified, including the people who are -- the families of those who are missing. And they've been told, essentially, that there isn't really any real hope that their loved ones are alive. It's a question of recovering the remains from inside the wreckage of the ship.

WATERS: All right; Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, where we will return shortly for the Pentagon briefing -- Natalie.

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