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Interview of Mike McCarron, Spokesman for San Francisco Airport

Aired January 30, 2002 - 11:33   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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: On the phone with us is a spokesperson for the airport. Mike McCarron -- sir, can you hear me okay?

MIKE MCCARRON, SPOKESPERSON, SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Yes, I can. Thank you.

HEMMER: Tell us what happened.

MCCARRON: About 6:50 this morning, a gentleman went through one of the checkpoints to boarding area F in terminal 3, which is United Domestic Airlines, and when they did a search of his shoes, came up with a possible type of residue, they wanted to investigate further. By the time they looked for this gentleman again, he was lost in the crowd.

As a result, the FAA has closed that area of the terminal, which is about 30 gates. All of the people in there have been evacuated. They are doing a search of the building right now, and until it is clear, all these people right now are standing on the curb in front of the terminal.

HEMMER: Mike, how did they lose this guy?

MCCARRON: I don't know that information right now, I'm still (ph) waiting for information myself.

HEMMER: Was he in custody, or was he just being searched and checked out?

MCCARRON: He was just doing a random check as he went through security.

HEMMER: But they did find explosives on his shoes, is that correct?

MCCARRON: Well, they found possible residue, it could be anything from explosives to something as simple as nitroglycerine tablets for heart medication which also a nitrite compound which show positive as well.

HEMMER: Interesting. We are looking at the picture outside your airport here. How bad is it? It looks like it is a mess. MCCARRON: It is not good. That part of the terminal (AUDIO GAP) 30 gates, United is our largest carrier, and it is the morning rush right now, so it is not a good time for this to happen.

HEMMER: All right, clarify this. I was saying 61 of 89 have been affected. Is that accurate, or is it less than that?

MCCARRON: That sounds about -- yeah, 61 through 89, those are the gate numbers.

HEMMER: Oh, gate number 61 through 89. So you are talking roughly, as you mentioned, about 30 gates, right?

MCCARRON: Right.

HEMMER: How long -- what time did it happen? It is 11:34 in the East, about 8:34 your time?

MCCARRON: It happened about 6:50 our time, so 9:50 on the East coast.

HEMMER: Okay, so we are looking at the better part of 90 minutes since then. Listen, how is this found? Do have you any information on that? Was he considered suspicious, or was this a chance of luck or what?

MCCARRON: It was -- I don't know if it was a random check or something suspicious, but what happens is they wipe the shoes, external part of the shoes, with a gauze-like material. They put it into an electronic reader, and that's where they got the positive hit.

HEMMER: Okay, I am assuming, and clarify this if I am wrong here, had you been doing explosive tests like this, for explosive residue prior to the -- what's known as the "shoe bomber case" and Richard Reid --

MCCARRON: Yes, we have, not to the extend we do now, but it has been a random check for some time.

HEMMER: Listen, I know you are busy, I know you got to run. Mike, thanks. Come on back and let us know what happens out there.

MCCARRON: Sure thing.

HEMMER: And best of luck.

MCCARRON: Certainly. Thank you.

HEMMER: It certainly is going to be a major challenge for you folks out there at San Francisco International Airport. Mike McCarron, many thanks. On the phone there in California.

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