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Tunisian Spokesperson Discusses Tunisia Crash

Aired May 7, 2002 - 12:39   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: We want to go Tunisia now, specifically the capital city of Tunis, where that EgyptAir plane went down, apparently suffering an emergency landing there. The word we got earlier was five dead, two injured. But a number of people apparently have survived.

Let's try and get confirmation now. Oussama Romdhani is a spokesperson in the communications agency of the Tunisian government.

Sir, can you hear me OK?

OUSSAMA ROMDHANI, TUNISIA GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL: Yes, I do.

HEMMER: Tell me what you know right now about that emergency landing: how many dead, how many passengers in total?

ROMDHANI: What we know at this stage is that there was an emergency landing, due, apparently, to a landing gear dysfunction.

And the airplane landed in a hilly area in a national park area called the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) national park. The casualty count at this stage is five dead among the passengers. There are apparently 56 passengers. And there have been already 27 injured evacuated to area hospitals. And emergency workers are continuing their work on the airplane, evacuating the rest of the passengers.

What else we know, it's...

HEMMER: Sir, how bad are the injuries?

ROMDHANI: It is not yet clear.

The emergency work is taking place in a difficult area, because it is hilly, mountainous, almost. And ambulances cannot have direct access to the region. Also, the weather conditions have not been totally cooperative. The ministers of the interior and health are on the spot coordinating the emergency effort. And it is proceeding expeditiously. Considering the number of injured and dead accounted for, there are not that many passengers remaining on the airplane. What is difficult is the retrieval of the rest of the passengers.

HEMMER: And if there is, what we say in the U.S. a silver lining, if there is good news in this, it's that people have survived, is that right? ROMDHANI: That's absolutely it.

I mean, we had feared the worst when we hard about this when the airplane apparently disappeared from the radar screen. Ambulances were speedily dispatched to the area. And although there are five dead, we are glad there are at least a remainder who seem to be

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: Sir, you said the landing gear dysfunction. What would explain why a plane would need to make an emergency landing in this hilly, mountainous area that you described if the landing gear is not working properly?

ROMDHANI: That will be up the investigation to tell us, because there was an emergency signal, an SOS signal, made by the airplane before making the emergency landing . And there have been apparently communication with the people in the area. So, we will know after the investigation proceeds.

HEMMER: OK, Oussama Romdhani, the communications agency of the Tunisian government there from the city of Tunis, again, sir, thank you for your time and the information.

The word we are getting: five dead, 27 others injured out of the total of 56 passengers on board. We are also told a crew of five where the plane went down, EgyptAir, sometime in the last couple of hours there in Northern Africa. We will continue to track that.

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