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American Airlines Flight 587 Crashes Into Queens Neighborhood After JFK Takeoff

Aired November 12, 2001 - 16:03   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Jason Carroll has been hanging around, doing a considerable amount of reporting. Is that where you guys want me to go? OK. Thank you.

Jason, tell us what you have learned since we last talked to you a half hour or so ago.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me start out by updating you on some of the latest information that we are getting. I'm sure you've talked about some of this.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani saying at this point six people are missing from Rockaway, Queens. Also emergency crews have recovered some 161 bodies. Again just to give you another number here, 255 people were on board that American Airlines flight.

The mayor also commended the Fire Department and the Police Department for quickly extinguishing the fire that was out here. We've been out here ever since early this morning, shortly after the accident, the crash happened, and I can tell you, when we first arrived here, the place was just filled with smoke, heavy thick smoke just about everywhere. The smell was very intense. And shortly after that period of time, about an hour or so later, the smoke seemed to have dissipated.

Also, officials saying no definitive conclusion in terms of the cause of what's happened here. Most of the witnesses that we talked to say that they heard some sort of a loud noise, and then when they went outside to see what was going on, they saw the plane overhead. The plane then seeming to split up and then crash into the neighborhood.

The governor saying that the pilot was able to dump fuel over Jamaica Bay shortly before the crash. And the mayor also saying that because the plane nose dived into the neighborhood, that seemed to minimize the impact.

Right now, I want to bring in a guest here. We've got Dan -- or excuse me -- John Condon. He is one of the firefighters who has been out here bravely dealing with this situation here.

John, why don't you start out and tell me what was it like being in there? What did you see? What were you able to do once you got there?

JOHN CONDON, NYC FIREFIGHTER: The debris is not that widely scattered, but it's -- there's a big crater that you can walk into. And you can see sort of which way the explosion, where the fuel must have sprayed houses in different directions from the impact site, because there are certain houses that are untouched right next door to where the plane nose dived in, and certain houses two and three and four away that are singed and scorched on the side, and some that are totally destroyed.

CARROLL: What are some of the special challenges that you're faced with in dealing with something like this when you come out here?

CONDON: By the time I got here, the fire was under control, but it's the disentanglement now of the people that were inside the plane. And that's going to take some doing.

CARROLL: Have they given you any indication about anyone there who, on the ground or in terms of fatalities, any other information that we were just able to provide?

CONDON: Nothing more than what you were able to provide to me.

CARROLL: How are you holding up, because I know that firefighters have had to deal with so much already? And you've been out here now for several hours. How are you and your fellow firefighters holding up at this point?

CONDON: In some ways, just, we're like experts at this bucket brigade now. The guys all want to be here. Everybody wants to be here to help out and do what they can.

CARROLL: In fact, you saw what happened on TV and just sort of came in on your own, correct?

CONDON: Yeah, well, they said that mobile -- the level 1 mobilization again. So my first thing, the protocol is to get to the nearest firehouse if you can't get to your own. So the nearest firehouse to me is right down the block here in Rockaway. And by the time I got here, it was just get to the site as soon as you can and do what you can to help out.

CARROLL: And when you got here, do you remember some of the thoughts that went through your mind as you were out here witnessing?

CONDON: The first thing I'm thinking is when I knew it was a plane crash, I'm thinking that it's happening all over again, but I don't want to jump to any conclusions. A plane crash is just another thing that the Fire Department has to deal with. And hopefully, the guys are going to be able to handle this all right.

CARROLL: We were listening to the mayor a little earlier, and he commended the firefighters and the Police Department for getting out here and doing such a quick job.

CONDON: If you could see just how much was on fire and how quickly they did knock it down -- I think in about 45 minutes to an hour the fire was under control as far as the fire spread. I mean, to be able to bring fire trucks in and put a stop to a fire that was burning that heavily and out of control, that was -- I commend those guys, those first two guys. They did a great job.

CARROLL: All, John Condon, a firefighters. I want to thank you once again. Thanks for all your efforts. I really appreciate it.

CONDON: You might want to wash that hand.

CARROLL: All right, thank you.

All right, once again, Aaron, according to the mayor, we have six people who are missing out here in Rockaway, and they've recovered some 161 bodies at this point. The investigation continues -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jason, thank you.

Just to underscore what he just said, how quickly they were able to get control of that fire, and you think about how much jet fuel was burning, what the risks were, and those guys, yet again, performed like the heroes that they are.

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