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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Large Explosion Destroys Baghdad Restaurant

Aired December 31, 2003 - 14:22   ET

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

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go straight now back to Baghdad, a story we're been following there.
Our Satinder Bindra is standing by with the very latest on the explosion that we've been telling you about in Baghdad.

Satinder, what can you tell us?

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, what I can tell you, is U.S. soldiers have secured the area. There's a U.S. helicopter buzzing in the air overhead, and there's two U.S. armored vehicles which have now blocked our access toward the restaurant.

But I've just been there, and I can tell you is this is a very powerful blast. The bomb was placed in a car that's been smashed to smithereens. The sidewalk is completely ripped up. The water mains have burst, and if there was anyone in that restaurant, it would have been a huge and a massive blow for them.

What we're hearing at the moment is some casualties have been taken out of restaurant. It's unclear how many people have been injured. Rescue personnel are here at the moment. They have a very dangerous job, because they're going inside the building, which is structurally not safe at the moment. There are three or four fire tenders here, and U.S. troops are conducting a sweep of the area to ensure there are no more bombs in the area. Now the force of this explosion was so powerful, that as I was walking up toward this restaurant, which is favored by expatriates in Baghdad, I noticed a lot of windows had blown out in the neighboring houses, a lot of these electricity lines here have dropped. So it is quite dangerous, because there are live circuits running around in the place, there's a lot of water and there's some flooding in this area.

Back to you.

COLLINS: All right, Satinder, we, of course will stay with you should anything else happen or develop out of this situation.

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