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Police Confirm Deaths in Israeli Bus Explosion

Aired August 19, 2003 - 14:34   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We have another breaking story to tell you about in Jerusalem. For that, we go to Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We are now being told that it was possibly a bus explosion. Now I am being told it is an explosion.

These are our pictures just in via Jerusalem, the first tape we have of the scene. You can see people carrying -- my gosh, one shot there of the gentleman carrying the child through the street there.

An explosion tearing through a bus, we're told, in Jerusalem. Police are reporting to the Associated Press that several people had been killed. We have not confirmed that yet. We are -- OK. Gil Kleiman, Israeli police spokesman, I'm told, is on the phone with me now.

Mr. Kleiman, what can you tell me?

GIL KLEIMAN, ISRAELI POLICE SPOKESMAN: I can tell you that I can confirm that we do have dead and wounded on the scene.

An explosion occurred on a bus, a city bus, in Jerusalem a short while ago. The response team has not yet determined whether it was a bomber or a bomb that was left on the bus. That's being checked.

Our first priority right now is to get the wounded out. The ambulances, of course, are on the scene getting the wounded out. And that's what we're doing right now. Other than that the only thing I can add to is what you said, is there is confirmation but we do have dead and there are definitely wounded.

PHILLIPS: All right. And I'm also seeing reports that possibly it was two buses that were hit by the blast. Can you confirm that?

KLEIMAN: I've got no confirmation of that. Sometimes, as a result of the explosion, there's collateral damages to buses in the area or the cars in the area.

Right now we're dealing with what we suspect is an explosion on one bus. Whether there is other damage done in the area as a result of the explosion or a different explosion that is to be checked. It's a little bit too early for that.

Right now our main priority is to get the wounded and other people who are hurt to the hospital, which is what we're dealing with. I imagine it clears up a little bit in 10 or 20 minutes we'll have a clearer picture of what caused the explosion. PHILLIPS: And Mr. Kleiman, we're getting obviously reports from witnesses in as the story is developing. I don't mean to be so gruesome, but it's pretty intense looking at these pictures and hearing what witnesses have been saying about severed bodies and pieces of human flesh.

I guess I just want to you put into perspective how big was this blast? Are we talking a large amount of people possibly being injured? And where, exactly, did this take place?

KLEIMAN: OK, I can say that we do have a large number of wounded on the scene. The exact number it's a little bit early to say. These things -- we call it the fog of war -- the initial minutes after an explosion are very unclear. So we don't come out with numbers or how many people are wounded and dead at this early stage.

Like I said, of course, what we want to do right now is get the wounded to the hospital.

But as explosions go -- I mean, we've seen many, unfortunately, many, many, last week, the week before, suicide bombers and shooting. There is a lot of damage; there's a lot of destruction and unfortunately a lot of people's lives will be changed.

PHILLIPS: Mr. Kleiman, can you tell me what area is it that we're looking at here? Is this an area where folks are out...

KLEIMAN: It's the Jerusalem area. It's the number one road. It's in Jerusalem. It's called Heimbach Left Street (ph). It's Jerusalem -- unfortunately, a large amount of terror attacks in that area itself. French Hill Junction. It's an area that has seen a lot of terror attacks.

PHILLIPS: Is this an area where people gather in the evening, you know, to dine, to mingle, to socialize? I just see a lot of people on the street.

KLEIMAN: The people, unfortunately, we asked our civilians not to arrive at the scene. Some of those people might be there as spectators to see if they can help or out of curiosity.

But it's a regular night. It's the evening and people are out, shopping at malls, the kids are on summer vacation here. And so right now we don't know who was on that bus. But a typical bus at this time of night. You see people coming home from work or going out to have a good time.

PHILLIPS: Gil Kleiman, Israeli police spokesperson, we thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

If you're just tuning in, first it's Baghdad and now it's Jerusalem. No connection. But an explosion tearing through a bus in Jerusalem. Now we're being told a large number of people wounded and definitely confirmation now that there have been people killed in this explosion. Not yet do we know if the explosives were planted or if, indeed, it was a suicide bombing. Still trying to clear up, also, if it was -- if it were two buses that were hit by the blast. We'll continue to follow this story as we get more information.


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