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Concorde Crash Near Paris Kills at Least 113Aired July 25, 2000 - 4:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Again from CNN Center, the first-ever crash of a supersonic Concorde jetliner. It happened today at 10:44 Eastern. That would be 4:44 Paris time.
These are the early shots of the plane taken by an amateur photographer just before the plane landed in a ball of fire, fire pouring from the left engine. Air France has said it was engine trouble which caused the crash, even though aviation experts say it would be too early to make that assessment.
The plane was chartered by a German tour agency, the Deilmann Agency, hauling 100 passengers to a cruise ship in New York at the time of the crash. The plane was barely off the ground, about 200 feet into the air, and went down in a ball of flames as the pilot apparently tried to make some corrections to avoid the disaster.
CNN's Jim Bittermann is in Gonesse, France, where he's been most of the afternoon keeping watch on the situation there.
Jim, what's new?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's kind of a grim vigil that's developed here this evening. Basically, we're being kept away from the aircraft scene, the crash scene while the investigators go over the crash scene. I think it's going to be some time before we're allowed anywhere close to the scene, because I think there's going to be a lot of work to be done there.
For one of the things, they're going to have to recover these bodies.
They've put up large lights around the crash scene, which is right near a hotel, which has sort of become the communications center, and the --- and that's from the place where the police and fire officials and aircraft inspectors are operating out of, from that hotel, which narrowly escaped being hit by the aircraft as it was going done.
The one building that was hit is nothing more than a smoldering ruin now, and it was in that building that four people on the ground perished.
The -- on the ground itself, there's very little to see in terms of the aircraft. The fact is there's nothing but burned and blackened and twisted metal that remains. There's a part of a door that I could see. It looked also as if perhaps several vehicles may have been hit on the ground as the plane came down. But other than that, there's very little for investigators to look at.
I'm sure what they're looking for mostly is the black box. That shouldn't be too difficult to find in the sense that in fact it is -- the wreckage is concentrated in an area about 100 yards in diameter. And so I think that they will be able to search that area fairly quickly and find the black boxes that were onboard the Concorde -- Lou.
WATERS: We're seeing the smoke in this video from the crash earlier in the day. Did any of this disrupt the flight activity at Charles de Gaulle?
BITTERMANN: No. In fact, this was far enough off the runway that it didn't cause any problems for the flights that were either departing or arriving. And one of the things that became evident right away when I arrived on the scene was the fact that the plane was dead center on the flight path, because we are seeing planes come off the end of the runway and pass directly overhead.
The crash scene is about 3 1/2 miles off the end of the runway, within sight of the control tower, and also within sight of the control tower of Le Bourget (ph), which is an airport about 5 miles away from Charles de Gaulle and possibly an alternative airport for an aircraft in trouble. But in any case, it was -- the aircraft went down some distance, perhaps a mile away from the runways at Le Bourget.
WATERS: Are there any indications that the authorities, the investigators themselves may be talking with media anytime soon?
BITTERMANN: My guess is not. I think that they're going to want to go over this scene carefully. The accident happened shortly before 5 o'clock local time, and the sun went down about three hours, four hours after that so that they had a little bit of time to look over the scene, but the plane was still burning at that point. I don't think they're going to get a chance to really get a good look at the scene until daybreak.
So my guess would be that we're not going to hear much from them before the morning.
WATERS: All right, Jim Bittermann will be there when we do hear form them. CNN's Jim Bittermann, our man at the scene in Gonesse, France, scene of that horrible tragedy involving the crash of the Air France Concorde jetliner earlier today.
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