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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Ground Search Will Continue Today

Aired February 5, 2003 - 09:50   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got to go to Hemphill, Texas, where the sheriff there is bringing us up to date on recovery efforts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... helicopters will be able to lift out the piece of the nose cone.

We're not sure exactly when the nose cone will be transported, but it will eventually wind up at Barksdale Air Force Base, where the other parts of the shuttle are being transported. When this happens, the Department of Public Safety, of course, will be managing the traffic on Highway 83, near where the shuttle nose cone was found.

So traffic will be managed there very tightly there when that's going on. Today EPA and NASA are developing a debris collection plan for nonhazardous materials that are found by the search crews. Hopefully, that plan will go into operation today. NASA officials this morning are cautioning our searchers, as well as the public, that there are three major hazardous materials out there that should be avoided at all costs.

These are, if anyone should notice a strong fish odor, that is a hydrozene fuel, it's very hazardous and stay away from it.

Also, if you notice an ammonia smell, it's probably the most hazardous. The analogy that was given was that the stuff you buy in the grocery store is like 2 percent ammonia, this is like 100 percent, and it will hurt you quickly. So stay away from that. And also there's another oxidizer that smells like bleach, and that should be avoided as well.

Searchers will continue their ground surveys today throughout Sabine Country.

Significant pieces of the shuttle were found yesterday, including the portion of the aircraft superstructure, some landing gear, and part of the control panel. The underwater search teams will be working Toledo Bend today, and targets were identified yesterday. So they have places they know to go, and they will be searching those today. We also have some horseback crews searching in the wilderness area near Indian Mountains wilderness.

We're expect some four 20-person crews coming from the Arkansas, Oklahoma area to aid in the search today. The weather, of course, is beginning to deteriorate. This afternoon, they're calling for a possibility of rain, with 100 percent chance of rain tomorrow, which will, no doubt, complicate the search and make miserable conditions for the searchers. We are posting the boat ramps, public and private, on Toledo Bend today, asking people that if they find material in the lake, to please contact either the Sabine County sheriff's office here in Texas, or on the Louisiana, side the Sabine Parish sheriff's office, and that's about all of my prepared statement.

QUESTION: What do you mean by superstructure? Can you expand on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all I know at this time. It's a fairly large piece of the ship.

QUESTION: How large?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that.

QUESTION: Are divers going into today, divers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I expect they will be. They did locate some targets yesterday, and I expect they will be diving on those targets.

QUESTION: Can you describe those targets?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I cannot. I don't know what they are.

QUESTION: Do you know what part of the lake they're in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're searching in an area off at that 120- degree -- down in this area here, as far as I know.

Some were, as I understand, and I think some were possibly identified by air yesterday, by helicopters.

QUESTION: ... as big as a compact car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that. They have not told me that.

QUESTION: Where are the ground crews?

ZAHN: Hemphill, Texas, authorities bring us up to date on the continuation of the ground search that will get under way there again today, as a piece of the nose cone piece was discovered and will be transported back to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, just a huge task, just a small part of the 28,000 square-mile section of eastern Texas and parts of western Louisiana, where they're going to be sifting for debris.

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