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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

At Least One American Confirmed Among Dead in Moscow

Aired October 29, 2002 - 10:03   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: At least one American is confirmed to be among the dead from the weekend hostage standoff in Moscow. His name, Sandy Allen Booker. He was a 49-years-old, an electrician from Oklahoma, just one of the 115 hostages whom died after Russian forces pumped a gas into the theater to try to disable the Chechen rebels who had taken 800 people hostage. Booker had escaped terrorism once before. He was a survivor of the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Russians are, of course, divided over the use of the gas, whether it's cost lives or saved them.
CNN's Matthew Chance has that story from Moscow.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the rain here, outside a hospital in the south of the Russian capital, where many concerned relatives are still gathering to find out information about their loved ones, one of love ones caught up in that hostage crisis and still hospitalized from the effects of inhaling that mystery gas that was pumped into the theater auditorium by Russian special forces in the minutes before they burst in, bringing to the end that very hostage crisis. Russian officials still remain very tight-lipped about exactly what it was that the chemical agent was made up of, referring to it merely as some kind of sleeping gas.

The U.S. embassy officials, though, here in Moscow saying they believe it to be some kind of opiate, similar to the drug morphine. Now, there is a lot of concern, as I say, in Russia about the effects of this gas. Nevertheless, most people saying that despite the heavy loss of innocent life, they believe if the Russian special forces had not acted in the way in which they did, and when they did, the tragedy could have been much worse.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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