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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
At Least 17 Dead in Helicopter Accident Near Mosul
Aired November 16, 2003 - 08:04 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go now to Iraq for the latest on that deadly helicopter accident in Mosul. The toll, at least 17 soldiers killed and several injured or wounded.
CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now live from Mosul and he has the latest -- Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Renay, thank you. There have been so many attacks against coalition and U.S. forces in recent days and recent weeks, but this one has carried the heaviest cost in terms of the lives of U.S. troops.
You join me here in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in a position overlooking the crash site where those two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters came down last night. The exact circumstances of their downing remain unclear. But investigators are focusing on the possibility that hostile fire was involved.
U.S. forces for several hours this afternoon here local time had cordoned off this area in the western suburbs of Mosul in order to extract the wreckage from the scene and to gather whatever forensic evidence they can to try and ascertain exactly what it was that caused the downing of these two choppers. What we do know at this point, though, is the casualty figures on the U.S. side. At least 17 confirmed as dead, plus another one body they say they have but have not yet been able to identify.
So that brings to 18, the total number of dead. Plus five injured. Some of them said to be seriously.
Now, as we look out over these rooftops here in western Mosul, you can see it's a very densely populated area of the city. The choppers came down on top of these buildings, as you can see. One crashed into a school. Fortunately, there were no children in classes in that school at the time, so there were no injuries.
The other one came down on a house. We've just been inside that house. I met the family and they spoke to me about what happened during that evening.
They say they were just in their living room with 15 members of their family when they heard this huge explosion and then felt the impact of that Black Hawk helicopter crash into their building. It is amazing that nobody was injured in that incident either in terms of Iraqis on the ground. Nevertheless, a great deal of hostility towards U.S. forces here in Mosul. U.S. forces may be bunkered up still behind sandbags and barbed wire. A lot of the locals that we've spoken to say they are joyful at the fact that these two helicopters were brought down in their city -- Renay.
SAN MIGUEL: Well Matthew, you talk about this anti-American sentiment that is there in Mosul, but what about actual incidents of resistance, attacks against U.S. forces in Mosul? Have we started to see more of this in recent weeks?
CHANCE: Well, we do seem to be seeing a pattern develop where this insurgency, which has mainly been focused on the Sunni areas, what we call the Sunni Triangle to the immediate north and to the west of Baghdad, spread out to other areas of the country as well. Certainly Mosul has not been the quietest of all cities in this country. There have been some attacks, but the very fact that this kind of an attack, if it is hostile fire that's determined to be the cause of the downing of these two choppers, the very fact that this has taken place in Mosul, indicates that that level of resistance here in this city may be on the increase and perhaps those insurgents have access to more sophisticated weaponry. Certainly they've demonstrated they are able and confident to strike at the U.S. forces in a very painful fashion -- Renay.
SAN MIGUEL: All right. Matthew Chance, live from Mosul in northern Iraq. Thank you for the report.
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