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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Commuter Jet Crashes in Kentucky; Fox Journalists are Freed; Tropical Storm Ernesto; Continuing Violence in Iraq
Aired August 27, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: A deadly plane crash. Only one survivor. Dental records needed to identify the victims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did take one individual off the airplane, the remaining 49 passengers or crew are fatalities.
ANNOUNCER: Taxiing down the wrong runway.
DEBBIE HERSMAN, NTSB: From the flight data recorder indicate that this aircraft was lined up and took off from runway two six.
ANNOUNCER: Vacation interrupted. Tourists in the Florida Keys ordered to leave. Coastal residents prepare for the worst as Ernesto churns.
Bloody Sunday in Iraq. Is the violence out of control?
NOURI AL MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): And, I want to assure he who loves Iraq that Iraq will never be in a civil war.
ANNOUNCER: And, keeping them honest. You've heard the excuses. Where's the help? Tough questions to Louisiana's Democratic Senator.
This is CNN SUNDAY NIGHT. From the CNN Studios in Atlanta, here's Carol Lin.
CAROL LIN, CNN HOST: Connection to the world, the web, and what's happening right now. Now, you've been busy out all weekend, so let's get you plugged in.
The headlines, a failed takeoff, 49 people dead, a heroic effort to save the sole survivor. Investigators on the scene of a Comair jet crash in Kentucky say the plane used a runway that was too short.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE HERSMAN, NTSB: The evidence that we have from on scene that we have collected and the information that we have that's preliminarily from the flight data recorder indicate that this aircraft was lined up and took off from runway two six.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LIN: So, now we want to hear from you. This was a commuter flight, a smaller jet used for short hops. Tonight's Last Call, would you take extreme measures to avoid a commuter flight? Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620. We're going to air some of your responses later this hour.
In the meantime, Florida bracing for Ernesto. The tropical storm is on track to reach Cuba tomorrow morning and it could strengthen back to a hurricane before then. All of the Florida Keys are under a Hurricane Watch. We've got a full update in 10 minutes.
Now no matter what New Orleans is preparing for the worst. President Bush's Gulf Coast Recovery Coordinator says the city's levy system is ready for another major hurricane. We're going to hear what Mayor Ray Nagin says in 15 minutes.
And, while we wait for the storm it was great to see two Fox journalists freed again. They're describing their harrowing two weeks of captivity in Gaza. Palestinian Militants released Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig early today. But not before they forced them at gunpoint to say that they had converted to Islam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CENTANNI, RELEASED FOX JOURNAKLIST: Somebody said the right thing somewhere because here I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: A full report coming up in about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, a series of bombings in Turkey have left 27 people wounded. The blasts happened on the Mediterranean Coast and in Istanbul, in the Turkish resort town of Marmaris. Three bombs exploded in the main strip of restaurants and bars. So far no one has claimed responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOURI AL MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The violence is in decrease and our security ability is increasing. And, I want to assure he who loves Iraq that Iraq will never be in a civil war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: Well, Iraq's prime minister tells CNN there's no civil war, but you're seeing the latest in the killing fields. At least 46 people died in bombings and shootings including two American soldiers. A newspaper office in Baghdad was just one of the targets and a market near Baquba was the other.
A Miami neighborhood in shock after police discover five people dead inside a home. Police say they all likely died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Two children are among the victims. This body of a woman was found inside an SUV still running in the garage. The man accused of killing a 6-year-old beauty queen is going to be in a Boulder, Colorado courtroom tomorrow. Now, it's really only a routine hearing, probably only lasting a couple of minutes, where we also get to see the two public defenders representing John Mark Karr.
And, the space shuttle in limbo, the clock is ticking for NASA to decide whether to launch Atlantis on Tuesday or bring the ship indoors to ride out approaching Tropical Storm Ernesto. The liftoff has already been delayed twice.
To our top story now, and it is important to be clear about what we know and what we don't know when it comes to the deadliest US airline crash in almost five years. Now, a few hours ago the NTSB briefed reporters and at least pretty much confirmed that Comair Flight 5190 took off from the wrong runway. CNN's David Mattingly in Kentucky -- Lexington, Kentucky close to the scene of the crash. So, David, how much are they going to know at least tonight?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, the black boxes have been recovered and they are just beginning to yield some answers, not a lot tonight, but enough to give investigators something to go on.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): A half mile field of debris provides clues to a violent and explosive end to a flight cut tragically short by a deadly wrong turn.
The predawn flight was departing Lexington, Kentucky, bound for Atlanta. Information pulled from the Delta Comair's flight data recorder shows the pilot tried to take off from the wrong runway, a runway too short for the commuter jet to take flight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE HERSMAN, NTSB: The evidence that we have from on scene that we have collected and the information that we have that's preliminary from the flight data recorder indicate that this aircraft was lined up and took off from runway two six.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY (voice-over): The immediate task at hand, recovering the victims' remains. A temporary morgue has been established to handle identification in what local officials are calling the area's worst single loss of life in many years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON BORNHORST, PRESIDENT, COMAIR: We're talking with the folks that's on the manifest, and then as we are able to provide information as we identify individuals, then we will let the families know exactly when we have identified their loved one.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE)
MATTINGLY (on camera): The question of how this could happen, Carol, is only beginning to be answered. Investigators will be looking at a whole host of things including communications between air traffic control and the jet. Did the crew have the proper information and instructions that they needed? They'll be looking at the crew as well. Did they have enough sleep? Could fatigue have contributed to this mistake? So many questions to be answered in the days to come. Carol.
LIN: So many, David. In your experience how long does it take before we get at least some of the preliminary results from the black boxes?
MATTINGLY: We are already getting them today. The NTSB collected them this morning; they're already in Washington, D.C. They've already gone in and determined that they've got quite a bit of dialogue going on on the cockpit voice recorder that they're able to listen to. They've also got what they say hundreds of points of data that they can use to examine in the flight data recorder, so they have a lot from these black boxes to analyze and go over and we'll just see how it comes out as the days go on.
LIN: David, thank you.
We want to share more with the audience about what we have learned about the passengers on board that flight. Now, CNN has not received the passenger list from the airline, but the Associated Press has spoken to some of the family members of the victims.
And, according to the AP the flight included a newlywed couple. Jonathan Hooker who was a former University of Kentucky baseball player and played Minor League ball along with Scarlet Parsely were on their way to their honeymoon.
And, Mike Finley, who owned Finley Fun Centers, was traveling to Nevada for a convention, according to his son David Taylor. Habitat for Humanity is also mourning the loss of Pat Smith. Smith, a member of the International Board of Directors was flying to Mississippi to work on rebuilding homes.
Now, these are a few of the victims, and if we get anymore information on any of the passengers, we're definitely going to pass it along.
In the meantime, sometimes the hometown paper has the most personally detailed stories about such a tragedy. Lexington's Herald- Leader reports that some families complained about how the airline handled the bad news.
Now, according to the paper, a relative claimed he waited two hours for more details. Also, the son of one passenger said they need to be a little bit more organized when they have press conferences. The Herald-Leader also reports that another family member was upset with the impersonal and brief way that Comair and the city of Lexington responded. The man told the paper that, "They just brought us all into a room like a herd of cattle." He goes on to say that he's in shock that they've handled it this way. Obviously very emotionally distraught.
The president of Comair did offer his condolences at a news conference and also we hope this information might be helpful to some of you.
If you are a family member or friend seeking information regarding the passengers on Flight 5191 please call Comair at 1-800- 801-0088.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
They have just issued a hurricane watch for the entire Florida Keys, from Ocean Reef down through the Dry Tortugas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN (voice-over): Pack up the kids, board up the windows, Ernesto now an emergency, forcing evacuations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN (voice-over): Not so. One year later is anyone doing a good job? President Bush marks the Katrina anniversary with a political PR campaign. And, forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint, the Fox journalists worked to save their own lives. Those stories and much more when we CNN SUNDAY NIGHT continues.
LIN: Now we've been reporting what we think are the top stories, but a lot of times you're surfing for others, so on CNN.com the story about a Pulitzer prize winning reporter with the Chicago Tribune charged with espionage in Sudan is one of your favorites. He's 44- year-old Paul Salopek, and he was freelancing for the National Geographic magazine when he was arrested in war-torn Darfur earlier this month.
Also, remember the story about the school girl lost and found after being kidnapped eight years ago? Well, now, she doesn't want to be with her family, or anyone for that matter. Natascha Kampusch spent eight years locked in the basement of her kidnapper in Austria, and since her dramatic escape she has asked to see her parents just once.
And, a lot of you are still keeping a close eye on Ernesto. Well, that's a smart move. You're 60 seconds away from the latest on Ernesto from CNN, your hurricane headquarters.
MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: We've got plenty of time to watch it, but anytime you have a developing story southeast of us in the peak of hurricane season, we need to pay attention.
LIN: Well, The Florida Keys are under a hurricane watch tonight, so I came over to the CNN Hurricane Center to meet up with Jacqui Jeras. You've been tracking Ernesto
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes we have.
LIN: Where is it?
JERAS: Well, it's still kind of hovering around the southwestern hip of Haiti here. We've got a lot of changes throughout the day, Carol. So, if you haven't been watching you want to pay attention. Because, 5:00 this morning we woke up and it was a hurricane and 5:00 tonight it's back down to Tropical Storm Status. But, we still have a window of opportunity for this to strengthen.
Let me show you what I mean as we walk over here to our big board and give you the big picture. 50 mile per hour winds, that's the maximum sustained winds -- it has to be 74 to become a hurricane. You can see this blossom here coming off the coast, and once it stops interacting, this has been really preventing it from getting stronger today.
It gets back into the water, and we'll watch that likely strengthen again. The forecast does bring it back up to a hurricane before making landfall tomorrow with Cuba and then it should be moving across the island before making its first approach towards the United States and the Florida Keys at earliest we think on Tuesday morning.
That's why hurricane watches have been put into effect from Ocean Reef extending down toward the Dry Tortugas, and that means that hurricane conditions are expected and possible within about 36 hours. What happens after that?
Still to be determined, and one of the big things I really want you to notice as we look at this map, and Carol -- I'm going to point this out to you here -- is our cone of uncertainty is very large. Look at how wide this is. It covers the entire Florida Peninsula as well as the Panhandle. We've seen a lot of changes already with Ernesto and expect to see more over the coming days.
LIN: Jacqui, why is it so hard to tell whether it's going to go to the west or to the east? What's the uncertainty there?
JERAS: Well, one of the most obvious things, why our margin of error is so great, as we got out in time, obviously your confidence goes down a little bit.
But, one of the big players that we've been watching here with this system is what's happening right now over the Rockies believe it or not. Notice this little spin up here in parts of Colorado. That's associated with what we call an upper level trough, and this is the way the winds are going in the atmosphere right there.
This trough is going to be heading off to the east, and as it does so, it's going to start to influence the direction that Ernesto is going. Right now Ernesto is going up toward the north and to the west.
As this trough gets closer it's going to start to guide it up to the north and curve on up to the right. Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe so, it's kind of what happened with Hurricane Charlie, if you remember.
But, if this trough slows down at all or lifts up to the north we could be looking at a storm in the Florida Panhandle as opposed to maybe South Florida. We'll have to watch it very closely over the next several days.
LIN: A lot of influences at play there. Jacqui, thank you very much. We're going to be catching up with you in the next half hour. We'll get an update at the National Hurricane Center.
JERAS: That's right. That comes in at 11:00 pm. And, we usually get it a little bit early, so we'll bring you up to date on that.
LIN: Alright, good deal. Thanks, Jacqui.
In the meantime, the folks in New Orleans are not going to take any chances at all. This thing may be looking like it's heading toward Florida, but Susan Roesgen, you're standing by there. There's actually a countdown going on in New Orleans. Tell us more about that.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORROSPONDENT: There is, Carol, just in case the storm changes course as Katrina did last year. The city is getting ready. And, the city needs a lot of lead time this time around. In fact, tomorrow at noon the city would put in some advanced preparations, some preparatory evacuation material, just in case they have to do that, but they're not expecting to right now. In any case, you know, what we're saying here is please not again, anywhere but here.
I talked to Mayor Ray Nagin about the irony of having another storm threatening in the Gulf of Mexico the same week as Hurricane Katrina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: It's kind of Poetic Justice in a way because we're going to have this anniversary event and while we're doing that, commemorating Katrina we're going to be looking out the corner of our eyes.
ROESGEN: What will you tell the president tomorrow when you meet him -- or the next day on the anniversary?
NAGIN: Well, I'm going to thank him for the work he's done, but I won't say I can challenge the president, but I'm going to basically say look, the money that you've pushed for is great, but it hasn't quite hit the mark yet and you need to help us to get it in the hands of residents and local governments much faster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROESGEN: President Bush and the First Lady will be in Mississippi tomorrow, Carol, looking at the recovery efforts there and then tomorrow night they're expected to be in New Orleans for a whole host of Hurricane Katrina Anniversary events on Tuesday.
LIN: Alright, thanks very much Susie. It was interesting to see your interview with Ray Nagin, because of course we here at the CNN Center we never know what he's going to say, and of course this man, here he is going to meet the President of the United States tomorrow on a critical story. Thanks Susie.
LIN: When the president goes to New Orleans, he obviously wants to send a message that the government is helping rebuild the Gulf Coast despite lingering images of incompetence. So, White House Correspondent Ed Henry previews the trip and charges from the critics.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In advance of his 13th trip to the Gulf Region since Katrina, President Bush has been trying to downplay expectations.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Time to recommit ourselves to helping them, but I also want people to remember that a one-year anniversary is just that. Because it's going to require a long to help these people rebuild.
HENRY: (voice-over): It's also taken a long time for the president to rebuild his political standing. Battered so badly by the initial images of a Commander in Chief flying over the devastation while human beings below endured horrific suffering.
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The response of Katrina was affected to the end of the President's presidency in the sense that all of a sudden people saw the small man behind the curtain.
HENRY: (voice-over): Which may help explain why the president so eagerly embraced Rockey Vaccarella, a rare Katrina victim willing to sing his praises.
ROCKEY VACCARELLA, KATRINA SURVIVOR: I wish you had another four years man.
HENRY: (voice-over): The White House perhaps hoping that would counter the high profile blunders.
BUSH: Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.
HENRY: (voice-over): Michael Brown is admitting mistakes, but also lashing out at the president. MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: It was a failure at all levels, and someone had to take the fall, and so clearly I was chosen to be that happy scapegoat.
HENRY: (voice-over): Rather than fire back Bush officials say they're focused on the future, namely whether or not the federal government can handle another catastrophe. The urgent question at hand, with Hurricane Ernesto barreling toward the United States.
DAVID PAULISON, FEMA DIRECTOR: We have pre-positioned a lot of supplies and people. Regardless of where a storm hits, whether it's in the Gulf Coast, whether it's in Florida or up and down the east coast, we're ready to move.
HENRY: (on camera): Only time will tell whether such predictions prove accurate. Michael Brown says one lesson he learned is that FEMA should be returned to an independent agency, a move President Bush has rejected so far. Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.
LIN: And, Of course we want you to stay with CNN this week as we take you back to the scene of destruction. Hear stories from the people affected and see how their lives have changed forever. Katrina, storm of a lifetime, one year later live extensive coverage beginning tomorrow.
Now, from the hands of kidnappers to the arms of loved ones. Next the two Fox journalists describe their torment while in captivity. You're watching CNN SUNDAY NIGHT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CENTANNI, FREED JOURNALIST: I just hope this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover this story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: That's what reporter Steve Centanni had to say after being kidnapped and held for almost two weeks. Two Fox journalists finally freed in Gaza this morning. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the story from Jerusalem.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Fox reporter Steve Centanni greets a colleague he hasn't seen in almost two weeks. Quickly followed by cameraman Olaf Wiig, as the two enjoy their first moments of freedom in a Gaza City hotel.
STEVE CENTANNI, FREED JOURNALIST: I'm not used to being on this side of a news story, and not one. Instead of one covering the news, and so this is a bit unusual, but I'm happy to see so many friendly faces and happy to be here.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Cameraman Wiig echoes concerns Palestinian officials had been voicing for the past 13 days.
OLAF WIIG, FREED JOURNALIST: My biggest concern really is that as a result of what happened to us foreign journalists will be discouraged from coming here to tell this story, and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Palestine.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): The two were abducted on August 14th from the streets of Gaza City. Centanni in a phone call to Fox News describes the moment they were forced from their car in Gaza and thrown into the back of the kidnappers' car.
CENTANNI (voice-over): They slipped a black hood over our heads and jammed us together in the middle and they piled in on either side and four of us in the back of this tiny truck could hardly breathe, we were scrunched down toward the floor and they sped away.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Earlier Sunday a video of the two journalists was released showing them saying they've converted to Islam. Centanni later revealed the statements were made at gunpoint. The group that claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, the Holy Jihad Brigades, unknown and unheard of before this.
SAEED SIAM, PALESTINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): Whoever was responsible and whatever political affiliation, this is absolutely rejected. It is the responsibility of the security forces to investigate.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): After various photo-op requirements including a meeting with the Palestinian Prime Minister, the two left Gaza for Israel. The clear relief at being free impossible to hide.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Jerusalem.
LIN: Remarkable. Alright, still to come, did Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu keep her promise one year after Katrina? Part of keeping the Gulf Coast politicians honest. See if she gets the White House to sign off on a plan to rebuild the Gulf Coast. The sun has set over the Comair crash site in Kentucky. In less than ten minutes I'll be talking with the man in charge of the TWA flight 800 and Value Jet crashes what happened in Lexington. Don't forget tonight's last call. Would you take extreme measures too avoid a commuter flight? Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE HERSMAN, NTSB: The evidence that we have from on scene and the information that we have collected and the information that we have preliminarily from the flight data recorder indicates that this aircraft was lined up and took off from runway two-six.
LIN: The shorter runway, the one too small for this plane. In the headlines, federal investigators are still looking at whether Comair jet 5191 was taking off on a wrong runway. The crash left 49 people dead and one survivor in critical condition. Live from the scene in one moment.
In the meantime, more information about the victims on board that flight. John Hooker, a former minor league baseball player, was among those killed. His wedding was yesterday. Hooker and his wife were heading to California for their honeymoon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: Also, another big story we're tracking tonight, Tropical Storm Ernesto. We are going to know more in 30 minutes when the National Hurricane Center gives us its next update. Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is going to have the latest for you in just 15 minutes.
And NASA is watching Ernesto, too.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol. Hi, I'm Daniel Sieberg, technology correspondent, here at the Kennedy Space Center. Go or go back, that is the question for shuttle Atlantis as it its on launch pad 39-B. NASA watching closely as Ernesto's path heads toward parts of Florida. We'll show you their escape plan in just a few minutes.
LIN: All right, interesting. Thanks, Daniel. Also, John Mark Karr will make his first court appearance tomorrow in Boulder, Colorado. Now, he's the suspect in the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey. Karr will be represented by two public defenders. The routine hearing is expected to last only a few minutes.
On Lebanese TV, Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, says the militant group began negotiating with Israel to exchange prisoners, but Israeli officials deny having such talks. The prisoner swap also discussed in another diplomatic front. Reverend Jesse Jackson met with the Syrian president, Bashar Assad. The civil rights leader plans to visit Israeli and Lebanese leaders and hopes to convince them to stick to the U.N. brokered cease-fire to release two Israeli soldiers still held captive.
Now, it's not your imagination. Gas prices nationwide have actually dropped 15 cents in the last two weeks. That's the biggest drop in nearly a year, according to the Lundburg survey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN MALE: A couple bumps here and there, nothing bad. How you are you doing, coach? Hanging in okay? A couple of bumps here and there.
LIN: All right, what are we watching? "Invincible Conquerors," all the other movies at the box office this week are in. The football saga, starring Mark Wahlberg, rakes in $17 million, knocking last week's number one movie, "Snakes on a Plane," to sixth place.
LIN: More now on our top story, the Comair crash, and this is what we know right now. Flight 5191 may have taken off from the wrong runway when it crashed early this morning in Lexington, Kentucky. Federal officials say the commuter jet took off from a short runway used by private aircraft. It's not known, though, if that contributed to the crash. Forty-nine people were on board and they were killed. There was one survivor, though, the crew's first officer, and he is listed in critical condition.
Bob Francis is the former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and he was the senior official in charge of the TWA 800 and Valujet crash investigations. He joins us right now from Washington.
Bob, it's good to have you. The flight data recorder, the voice recorder both being analyzed. What specifically are they going to be listening for in those conversations on the voice recorder, specifics?
BOB FRANCIS, FMR. NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: Well, on the voice recorder, I think there will be two things of primary interest. Number one, the conversations between the control tower and the aircraft and, number two, the conversations within the cockpit between the pilots and any other sounds that might have been heard in the cockpit and the series of...
LIN: What if you hear the control tower specifically directing the pilot to go to the longer runway, 22, what if you hear that? But we see the wreckage at the end of the shorter runway, 26.
FRANCIS: Well, I think that, this is my speculation is that the pilots believed they were turning on to runway two-two, but they weren't -- whatever, they turned on the wrong runway.
LIN: Because there are two left turns, the first left turn and then a second left turn.
FRANCIS: That's right, there are two left -- absolutely and they took the first one, where they should have taken the second one.
LIN: But these are pilots who have flown out of this airport many, many times over the last couple of years. How would they make that kind of a mistake?
FRANCIS: I don't know. I mean, I think one of the things that the board certainly will be looking at is the question of fatigue and what was their history of flying and rest over the couple of days before the accident took place.
LIN: When you and I were listening to the NTSB briefing about four hours ago, the way they described the debris field, it's a very wide debris field, they said, and also there were large pieces of the fuselage.
Does that indicate to you whether this plane was able to lift off at all?
FRANCIS: I don't think -- certainly I don't know enough to make that determination yet. Debbie Hersman made reference to the fact that there were marks off the end of the runway. LIN: She called them scars in the landscape.
FRANCIS: Yes. Now, that would indicate that if that -- if those were aircraft, and they'll be able to tell whether it was or not, that at least at that point, they hadn't become airborne.
LIN: And do you think it's because the runway, at 3500 feet, was that long enough for this type of plane to take off?
FRANCIS: My understanding is that isn't even close to being long enough.
LIN: They would need, what, twice that distance?
FRANCIS: More or less. Well, not twice, no, but 5,000, more or less.
LIN: And the idea behind that is to get enough speed in order to get flight.
FRANCIS: In order to get lift out of the wings.
LIN: All right, Bob Francis, thank you very much, former NTSB vice chairman. Hopefully, we will be hearing the results, at least some of the transcripts from those voice data recorders in the days to come. Appreciate it.
Now, before today's crash, some of the deadliest U.S. commuter jet crashes include American Eagle Flight 4184 from Indianapolis to Chicago on October 31, Halloween 1994. All 68 people on board were killed.
And Comair Flight 3272 from Cincinnati to Detroit crashed on January 9, 1997, killing 29 people. And January 8, 2003, U.S. Airways Express Flight 5481 crashed shortly after takeoff from Charlotte, North Carolina, 19 people died in that crash.
Again, we're trying to give you some information we hope will be helpful to people concerned about those passengers on board that flight. If you are a family member or a friend seeking information regarding passengers on Flight 5191, please call Comair at 1-800-807- 0088.
Now, since the TWA 800 plane crash nearly a decade ago, investigators have looked closely for clues. And they found one likely, one likely cause at least in that case, faulty wiring. Our David Mattingly takes a closer look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Late in the summer of 1996, Bob Swain, an accident investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board, faced the biggest challenge of his career.
He'd grown up around airplanes. He knew how to fly them and how to fix them. Now, he had to figure out you what caused this one to crash. And he was worried.
(on-camera): This isn't the only aircraft like this in the air.
BOB SWAIN, NTSB INVESTIGATOR: No, and that was one of our concerns. The investigators' big concern is will the next accident happen while I'm still working on this one.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): With no evidence of a missile or bomb, Swain believed that deep inside the plane was something that caused the center fuel tank to explode.
(on-camera): There are five large fuel tanks on a 747 and the center tank is only needed for the longest of flights and it wasn't used on that trip from New York to Paris. So when TWA 800 took off, the 13,000 gallon tank contained only about 50 gallons of fuel left over from a previous flight, 50 gallons, a little more than a puddle that soon turned to vapor.
SWAIN: It's like a London fog. That's the amount of fuel that's in the air in this vapor. Once you start to ignite the fog, the pressure rise is phenomenal and you rip the structure apart.
MATTINGLY: I n this footage of an NTSB test, you can see it happens in a split second.
So what set off the explosion on Flight 800? Searching for the answer, Swain discovered a tragic history of miscalculations.
LIN: Could the TWA 800 crash happen again? Stay tuned. More of CNN PRESENTS NO SURVIVORS, coming up at the top of the hour, in 20 minutes.
Now, you're looking at heavy wind and rain from Ernesto as it hits the Dominican Republic. We're tracking this storm with a live update, next.
And NASA is watching and waiting to see where Ernesto is going. If it comes to Florida, Atlantis is going back inside.
You're watching CNN SUNDAY NIGHT.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: CNN is your hurricane headquarters and right now parts of Florida are under a hurricane watch tonight. We are tracking Tropical Storm Ernesto, when CNN SUNDAY NIGHT continues in just 60 seconds.
LIN: That's right, so we're going to take you to our hurricane headquarters right now. Jacqui Jeras tracking Ernesto there. Jacqui, anything from the National Hurricane Center?
JERAS: In fact, literally just came in, so hot off the presses, the 11:00 advisory is in. The winds still at 50 miles per hour. So we're staying a tropical storm status. The storm is now pulling away from Haiti and we're getting into that window of opportunity now that we could start to see a little more strengthening.
I want to show you the updated forecast track. The beautiful thing about our weather technology here is that our maps will automatically update as soon as that advisory is issued. So there you can see the forecast track.
And what I notice right away, I haven't been able to read the discussion yet, so I will have to check that, but you can see we're looking at a tropical storm now over Cuba. Earlier this evening, we were seeing the hurricane symbol here. There you can see the forecast track.
It looks like perhaps it has shifted ever so slightly off to the left. We've been watching the panhandle of Florida being in this cone of uncertainty and it looks like they have just nudged on out of that right now.
Joining me now live from the National Hurricane Center is meteorologist Jamie Rhone. He's a hurricane specialist there. And, Jamie, what can you tell me about this new advisory and the latest forecast track?
JAMIE RHONE, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, there hasn't been a whole lot of change this evening. The system, tropical storm has weakened just a little bit, down to 50 miles per hour, but this is not what we want people to focus on. We don't want people to let down their guard and think, well, this is just a tropical storm.
We want people to continue to prepare and to be ready for a possible hurricane landfall somewhere in the Florida peninsula.
JERAS: And how soon can Florida expect to start to feel the impact from Ernesto?
RHONE: Well, it's a little too soon to get into the time frame. I think now it's time for people to start looking around and seeing what they have in terms of supplies and what they would need to do if asked to evacuate. A lot of people don't know if they're in an evacuation zone. Now's a good time to check and see if you are, such that if officials ask you to evacuate or if you feel unsafe, you can do so rather quickly.
JERAS: And how many changes do you expect to see as we continue to progress? We had a lot of stuff going on today and yesterday with Ernesto.
How much confidence do we have, not even talking about Florida yet, of what this is going to be doing over Cuba? Because as we take a look at Cuba, very long island here, and if it moves well over the island, we're talking about weakening very significantly. But if we stay over the water longer, obviously going to be a stronger system.
What are we expecting here with Cuba?
RHONE: As you know, intensity forecasting is the most uncertain part of what we do and when there's land interaction, it becomes even more uncertain. And as you alluded to, there's a lot of land interaction going on in this case and even more to come with Cuba. So it's very hard. There's a lot of uncertainty in this forecast, I want the public to know that.
But I also don't want them to think that this uncertainty should stop them from taking action. Don't just say, "You know, all those guys down at the hurricane center don't know what they're doing." Go on about your business and get prepared, so that this thing comes off of Cuba and it is a hurricane, as we're forecasting, then you can take action immediately.
JERAS: And should people on the east coast of Florida be just as concerned as those on the west?
RHONE: Oh, yes. I think anyone within that cone that we have -- you probably showed in your cast there should take this as a serious threat and go ahead and make the initial preparations.
JERAS: OK, Jamie Rhone, hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, thanks for joining us tonight.
And, Carol, that's the latest update, brand new in from the National Hurricane Center. We're holding at 50 miles per hour, still a tropical storm, but still forecast to be a hurricane as it approaches Florida.
LIN: All right, thanks, Jacqui, for bringing that to us so quickly. Appreciate it.
Now, of course, you're going to want to stay with CNN all week long, because we are going to take you back to the scene of destruction. You're going to hear stories from the people affected and see how their lives have changed forever. Katrina, storm of a lifetime, one year later, live extensive coverage beginning tomorrow.
With all the storm activity, NASA is wrestling with the decision of when to launch the space shuttle. Live pictures now of Atlantis on pad 39-B and it could launch on Tuesday or end up back inside its hangar.
Crews are ready to begin the day long process of rolling the spaceship back to shelter. Technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg standing by live to explain what's going on.
Daniel, I feel like we should be playing "Should I Stay or Should I Go." What's going to happen?
SIEBERG: Yes, there's sort of a go or go back at this point, Carol. Maybe we can go back to the live picture, first of all, of Atlantis, shuttle Atlantis on launch pad 39-B. It's night here, so it's lit up. It's also enshrouded by this rotating service structure meant to protect it from the weather and elements. Now, if we can go to video taken from the International Space Station, the astronauts and cosmonauts up there, of Ernesto, Tropical Storm Ernesto.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIEBERG: And so they want to go from being on that launch pad up to the International Space Station. That's where they'd like to be. Of course, that's what stands between them and getting up there, Tropical Storm Ernesto. They have been meeting over the last couple of days to discuss a number of things, including a lightning storm that hit the launch pad. They have cleared that, no problem to the orbiter or any parts of it, but now they have to worry about Tropical Storm Ernesto.
At a briefing just a short time ago, the launch integration manager, Leroy Cain, talked about which way they're leaning.
LEROY CAIN, LAUNCH INTEGRATION MANAGER: With the current storm predictions, it would take a relatively significant change from the current forecast that we're seeing to prevent us from going into rollback preparation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIEBERG (on-camera): All right, so what does rollback preparation mean? Basically, it means that they would have to take the shuttle Atlantis off launch pad and put it onto this huge transporter crawler.
This is a massive machine. It burns about a 150 gallons of diesel oil per minute, it takes about 11 people to run it, moves very slow, about one mile per hour when it's fully loaded with that 4.5 million pound shuttle. So it would take them quite a bit of time.
Now, they have until tomorrow at noon, that is the point of no return, when they really have to decide here if they're going to move forward with this rollback plan. As Leroy Cain pointed out, it's not looking good, but we're going to have to wait until early tomorrow morning, Carol, for the latest bit of information and we'll bring it to you.
LIN: Wow, interesting information, a 150 gallons a minute. They're watching gas prices, too, as well as the weather. Thanks, Daniel.
Well, much of the Gulf Coast still in pieces one year after Hurricane Katrina. Federal funding could help put it back together. Senator Mary Landrieu wants President Bush to pony up. She made a promise to her constituents. We'll see if she's going to keep it.
LIN: Along the gulf coast thousands of people still haven't gotten their lives back on track since Hurricane Katrina. The missing ingredient is federal funding. I spoke with Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu to see if she's going to keep her promise to her constituents. Will she get the seal of approval from President Bush on a bill that could pump millions of money into the Gulf Coast?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: Senator, you were also very leery of President Bush's response to this kind of legislation. This is what you also back in December.
U.S. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): It needs to be both, but the president's support for this is crucial. We've had a vote out of the House of Representatives positively on this subject in years past and a lot of support in the Senate, but the administration has been very lukewarm.
LIN: Any warmth coming from the White House? He knows that this legislation is in the pipeline. Have you gotten any kind of response from the White House?
LANDRIEU: We have gotten a general letter of support for revenue sharing, but I'm going to ask the president to really step up and take the lead and consider this a great legacy for his administration to support and secure the Gulf Coast for future generations and take an active role in helping us resolve the differences between the House and the Senate.
LIN: But no guarantees, Senator.
LANDRIEU: And that will be a wonderful legacy.
LIN: No guarantees yet.
LANDRIEU: But there's no guarantee yet, but we're hoping to get that action when we get back in September.
LIN: All right, September, we'll be looking for those answers. Senator, how are you going to be spending the Katrina anniversary on Tuesday?
LANDRIEU: I will be in almost all the parishes that were affected starting in St. Bernard, Plackman, New Orleans, Jefferson, Tammany, the region, and then all week I'm traveling from one end of Louisiana to another trying to build hope, to support the recovery, but to say the things that still aren't working and we need to just dig in and make it work better thank you.
LIN: Shat are you going to tell the folks there when you had made those promises potentially of having some solutions for revenue building, so that people can rebuild? What are you going to tell the folks there as they see legislation moving slowly through Congress, still not on the president's desk?
LANDRIEU: Well, people are going to be just extremely disappointed if we can't get this energy bill through to the president's desk. I mean, it is the number one issue for Louisiana and, frankly, I think, for the Gulf Coast.
Not that Alabama and Texas have the same situation, but this wetlands will protect Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. Without it, all of the rebuilding in the world that we're doing is not going to matter in the long run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: We've got some other news across America now, as well. A national commemorative day of worship to honor the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Senator Hillary Clinton was among those attending a special service, church service at the New York Riverside Church.
And a rookie firefighter was killed battling a fire at a discount store in New York. He died when he and four other firefighters fell through the floor of the building. The others weren't hurt. One is in critical condition, though. The fire was under control in about five hours.
And Hollywood celebrities, more glammed out than usual as they brace the red carpet for the Emmys. And the toast of tonight's award ceremony? Departed series "Will and Grace." "The West Wing" and "Huff" all picked up acting trophies.
A check of the hour's headlines is after the break and then CNN PRESENTS NO SURVIVORS. Find out why TWA Flight 800 could happen again. But, first, your responses to our last call question. Would you take extreme measures to avoid a commuter flight? Here's what you had to say.
MARY, MINNESOTA: Hi, my name is Mary, from Minnesota. And, no, I actually have traveled in the last year on commuter flights and had no fear whatsoever.
ELIZABETH, KATY, TEXAS: Yes, I would avoid a commuter flight at all costs. My name is Elizabeth and I'm calling from Katy, Texas.
HOLLY, OHIO: Holly, from Ohio. No, I wouldn't not take a commuter flight. My husband works on them. They're very, very safe, and I plan on flying this Saturday.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: I fly Comair all the time. I find it a great airline and I feel very safe flying on commuter flights.
DAVE, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY: My name's Dave, I'm from Lexington, Kentucky. And I'm just really confused about how that could happen and there's no lights on that runway.
So I just don't understand that. But I think commuter flights are extremely safe and I've been taking them for years out of the Bluegrass Airport. How that could happen? That's a tragedy.
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