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Errant Bomb From Navy Jet Kills 5 Americans, New Zealander in Kuwait

Aired March 12, 2001 - 3:35 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Joie Chen from CNN's center in Atlanta. We want to bring you up to date.

We've been following the latest developments from the Gulf region where there has been an accident earlier in the day. A U.S. Navy warplane involved in training exercises in Kuwait was involved in an accident. There have been deaths arising from this accident.

Joining us on the telephone line now from Kuwait City is journalist Miriam Amie. Miriam, what can you give us as the latest information in this accident?

MIRIAM AMIE, GERMAN NEWS AGENCY: Well, our Kuwaiti military sources at the military hospital here in Kuwait have said -- they have confirmed six dead now, five Americans, one New Zealander, seven injured. Of those injured, five are Americans and two are Kuwaitis.

CHEN: Can you give us more information? Has anything more been learned about how this accident happened?

AMIE: Yes. In fact, the military spokesman had explained that these vehicles that were parked in the desert, which were on the receiving end of this bomb, they are lit, they have lights, and they guide the aircraft during the exercise. And there was some confusion and the bomb was dropped on one of these -- one of these vehicles.

CHEN: Were there other aircraft involved in the same training exercise?

AMIE: Yes, I was told that there were several aircraft involved coming from different directions. But, at that particular point, it was only one aircraft that dropped the bomb, the FA-18 Hornet that dropped a bomb on this particular vehicle.

CHEN: OK. I just want to bring our viewers up to date, if they're just coming into this information now. The aircraft involved is a FA-18 Hornet aircraft. It belongs to the U.S. Navy. It was flying from the U.S. aircraft carrier the Harry Truman to the Udairi range. This was about 30 miles south of Iraqi border. This accident, we're told, happened around 7:30 in the evening local time. And that, Miriam, would be in darkness when this accident occurred?

AMIE: Yes, it would. It would be very dark at 7:30 p.m. We were told that the vehicles on the ground had lights, they were lit up, and they were guiding their -- meant to guide the aircraft.

CHEN: And the bomb involved, we understand, was a relatively large ordinance, about 500 pounds dropped...

AMIE: That's correct. Five-hundred pounds. That's correct, yes.

CHEN: Were there other live ordinances being used in the course of this training exercise?

AMIE: The militaries, the joint exercises, they usually use live ammunition, and they're usually routine exercises conducted here regularly, and have been over the past 10 years. There's land, sea, and air exercises constantly going on here, and Udairi is a firing range. It is a firing range. It extends down from the Iraqi border between 30 and 50 kilometers south.

CHEN: Journalist Miriam Amie. She works at the German Press Agency. She is in Kuwait City and she was on the telephone line with us, bringing us up to date with the latest information there. Getting, again, Miriam Amie, the journalist there saying a report to her from the Kuwaiti military hospital sources that six people have died as result of this accident.

The information that we have at CNN is that an FA-18 Hornet belonging to the U.S. Navy and flying from aircraft carrier Harry Truman earlier in the day in this training exercise, dropped a live ordinance, a 500 pound bomb, involved in the killing of these people. Another 10 people are injured, we are told.

CNN is continuing to stay on top of this still-developing story. You'll get the latest information here. Now, let's take a break and more of "TALKBACK LIVE" after this.

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