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Prognosis Is Good for Sailors Injured in USS Cole Attack

Aired October 16, 2000 - 1:09 p.m. ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: FBI agents at work in Yemen, continuing their investigation into last week's deadly explosion aboard the USS Cole. There still is no word of evidence that would link the attack to any specific group, but Yemen's president now agrees the blast was the result of a planned criminal act.

The Navy is completing arrangements to bring the Cole back to the United States for repairs using a specially designed vessel. It's the privately owned Blue Marlin. It has the ability to sink below the Cole and lift up the crippled ship onto its deck for transport. Kind of like a fancy tow truck on the ocean.

As for the sailors on board, 17 American sailors were killed in that Cole attack. Six badly injured sailors are still in a military hospital in Germany, but officials say that four of them may be able to come back to the U.S. tomorrow or Wednesday.

Thirty-three other injured sailors already are back in Virginia, where the Cole is based. Let's check in with our Mark Potter, joining us now from Portsmouth, Virginia.

Mark, good to see you.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Daryn. Well, of those 33 sailors that you talked about here at the naval medical center in Portsmouth, most of them will be released, doctors say, by the end of the day. Probably 30 of the 33 will be leaving here.

Now, they're still in the hospital now with their families members, many of whom spent the night here. The director of the hospital joked that the Navy broke all the rules to allow the family members to spend the night here and most of them did.

The treating physician says the good news is that none of the injuries is life-threatening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPTAIN MARTIN SNYDER, DOCTOR, NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER: Out of the 33 that came in, the majority of them were orthopedic injury: mostly, broken bones, fractures and things like that. We've had some soft- tissue injuries: cuts, bruises, abrasions. And usually -- most of them were ambulatory when they came in the door yesterday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: That was Captain Martin Snyder, who says that the sailors who are brought in here last night, are in good spirits and are thrilled to be home with their families. But he also said there are conflicting feelings of sadness and solemnity because of the deaths of 17 of their shipmates.

Each of the sailors was given a psychological debriefing today, which doctors say is an important beginning of the emotional healing process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNYDER: You keep those emotions inside, sometimes weeks or even months down the road these things come out and haven't really had a chance to vent their feelings.

Call it what you want -- bereavement, combat stress syndrome -- these patients need to at least have all those services available to them. We offer them the psychological counseling if they need to talk to a chaplain or they need to talk to a psychiatrist. And even if they don't want to talk now, give them somebody who they can call after they get home if they're having nightmares, they have flashbacks. This is not uncommon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Now, the injured sailors are being fitted with new dress uniforms so they can attend Wednesday's memorial service in Norfolk for their fallen shipmates, and after that they'll be given some off time with their families.

Daryn, back to you.

KAGAN: Mark Potter in Virginia, thank you very much. We will have an update on the condition of the sailors and the ship itself in the next hour. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald of the U.S. Navy will be briefing reporters at 2:00 Eastern. We will carry those remarks live from Yemen.

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