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Singapore Airlines Crash: U.S. Experts to Join Investigation; Family Members Gather Near Airport with Taiwan's President

Aired November 1, 2000 - 1:01 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: A team of U.S. experts will join the investigation into the crash of Singapore Airlines Flight 006. The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched an eight-member task force to Taiwan.

Investigators already have completed an initial review of the jumbo jet's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder in an effort to determine why the jumbo jet crashed while it was taking off.

Of the 80 people killed, 23 were Americans. Twenty-four other Americans were among the 99 survivors. In Lancaster, California, the son of one survivor says he is extremely relieved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHELTON RALPH, CRASH SURVIVOR'S SON: It's definitely a miracle. It's God's hand when you realize and you look at the wreckage and you look at the pictures of the plane, the different pieces it was broken into, the flames that were going on. You look at the results, the numbers that have been transmitted since they've learned, and you realize the mere difference between being alive today and not is the seat you were sitting in. There's no other explanation, but God simply had a plan for him that he hasn't fulfilled and needed to be here to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Flight 006 to Los Angeles was taking off from Taipei when the disaster occurred.

Jason Blatt reports relatives of the victims gathered near the airport.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BLATT, TVBS REPORTER (voice-over): Family members of Taiwanese passengers believed to have died in the fiery crash of Singapore Airlines Flight 006 gathered at a special reception center set up for them near the airport. They were to be joined by relatives of the flight's victims from other countries as the airport's flight operations resumed.

Most found it hard to conceal their grief at the sudden loss. Some cursed at airline staff who were trying to console them.

After all the bodies were recovered from the aircraft, relatives began the torturous process of identifying their loved ones. Looking at the bodies one by one, many could hardly control their emotions. The intense fire that raged through the plane, combined with the force of the airplane's impact, rendered many victims difficult, if not impossible, to identify.

Many relatives inspected clothing or items of jewelry as a means of confirming their loved ones' identities. Caskets containing identified bodies were laid out in the special area set up for relatives.

Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, joined the mourners, burning joss sticks and bowing in a traditional expression of respect and mourning.

President Chen ordered a thorough investigation of the crash. His cabinet premier, Chang Chun-hsiung, spent most of the day overseeing rescue efforts, hampered but not foiled by strong winds and heavy rains brought by a typhoon.

Jason Blatt, TVBS, Taiwan, for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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