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Konformist: EgyptAir 990 - Official News Reports

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  • Robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com CNN Transcript Thanks to Robert Drake & John
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 1999
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.


      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      CNN Transcript
      Thanks to Robert Drake & John Quinn for forwarding.

      (Robalini's Note: Associated Repress is a Freudian slip, if I've ever seen


      Breaking News

      EgyptAir Flight With Over 200 Onboard Disappears From Radar; Coast Guard
      Finds Debris and One Body Off Massachusetts Coast

      Aired October 31, 1999 - 6:00 a.m. ET


      O'BRIEN: Art, there's something here, Associated Repress -- Associated
      Press is reporting -- and we want to couch this. I don't believe we have
      this independently confirmed by CNN. But according to Associated Press
      speaking to sources in Egypt, that particular EgyptAir aircraft began
      its flight in Los Angeles and apparently made a landing at Edwards Air
      Force Base in California. That seems very odd to me.

      CORNELIUS: That is odd. Normally, you don't ever use a military
      facility, and as to why they chose Edwards, even if they had a problem,
      is a puzzle to me. It may be because they felt that the fire-suppression
      and rescue capability at a military airport might be more readily
      available than at a civilian airport. But I would question that.

      O'BRIEN: Yes. That's a report that we're going to try to nail down. But
      if in fact that were the case. that would indicate clearly that
      something prior to any disappearance off of radar screens off of
      Nantucket, something had been troubling those pilots, perhaps.


      O'BRIEN: Cheryl Fiandaca with our affiliate WABC in New York reporting
      to us from JFK Airport, thanks very much.

      And just to underscore, we're -- that report that that aircraft made
      some sort of stop at Edwards Air Force Base, which you would have to
      characterize as something way out of the ordinary, that report still has
      not been independently confirmed by CNN. That report coming from the
      Associated Press. They are
      quoting EgyptAir officials and Egyptian television that there was that
      stop. We're working on trying to nail that particular thing down.

      Let's go back to Art Cornelius, our aviation consultant in Los Angeles.
      Art, I don't want to dwell on this Edwards thing too much, because the
      fact that we don't have it confirmed. But when -- when a stop like that
      occurs, one should
      consider the possibilities that there was some kind of abnormality on
      that plane.

      CORNELIUS: Yes. I would definitely consider that now. If in fact they
      landed at Edwards, that indicates a number of things: first, Edwards
      would be an unfamiliar airport to the crew, and so would not be high on
      their list of choices
      for diversion.

      O'BRIEN: Art -- Art, I'm going to interrupt real quickly. I just want to
      let our viewers know we have confirmed that flight, Flight 990, after
      leaving Los Angeles, did, in fact, stop at Edwards Air Force Base. So
      let's go forward with
      the certainty that this in fact happened.

      Give us some scenarios as to why that would have happened. Edwards Air
      Force Base, folks might be familiar with it as -- a lot of a test
      aircraft are flown out of there. The shuttle often lands there. It has a
      very long and forgiving runway, does it not?

      CORNELIUS: Well, yes, if you use the lake bed, it is a very long and
      forgiving runway. But I will -- I will just guarantee you from my
      experience that if an aircraft lands on the lake bed, he is not going to
      turn around and go anywhere real soon, because there's going to be some
      -- some cleanup that has to be done.


      O'BRIEN: But there is a hard-surface runway there, we want to point out
      to our viewers.

      CORNELIUS: Oh, yes. But it's no longer than those at many other
      locations. Los Angeles has a 12,000-foot runway, and Los Angeles also
      has, you know, an excellent airport rescue and fire-fighting capability.

      Ontario Airport, just due south of there, has a 10,000-foot runway, or
      better. And they also have an excellent fire-fighting capability. So it
      used to be that you might choose a military airport if you wanted to
      foam the runway for some
      reason: i.e., you might have a landing gear problem, and you were going
      to put the airplane down and you wanted to have the foam.

      That's seldom done anymore. And the military airports had the capability
      to foam the runway whereas most civilian airports did not. But they
      don't do that anymore. It's found to be not an efficient option for an

      O'BRIEN: All right, Art. I'm going to have you standby. Let's turn now
      to Ben Wedeman, who just left an EgyptAir news conference in Cairo.

      Ben, what can you tell us?

      WEDEMAN: What I can tell you is that, yes, that plane did land at
      Edwards Air Force Base. The reason for that is not clear.

      � 1999 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.


      U.S. Coast Guard finds body, debris in waters off

      October 31, 1999 Web posted at: 9:56 a.m. EST (1456 GMT)

      NANTUCKET, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has
      found a body, airplane seats and lifejackets in the sea
      about 60 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, possibly
      from the crash of a Boeing 767 passenger plane that
      disappeared from radar screens after taking off from New
      York Sunday. All 214 people on board are feared dead.

      Coast Guard Rear Adm. Richard Larrabee said in a news
      conference, however, that with water temperatures in the
      50s, there was still a possibility of survivors.

      The Federal Aviation Administration lost contact with
      EgyptAir Flight 990 about 2 a.m. EST, about 60 miles (100
      km) south of the island of Nantucket, Coast Guard officials

      The plane took off from New York's John F. Kennedy
      International Airport en route to Cairo, Egypt.

      Larrabee said that the debris found was in the vicinity of
      the site of the last radar contact with the missing plane.
      The plane was carrying 199 passengers and 15 crew members,
      according to EgyptAir officials.

      EgyptAir head Mohammed Fahim Rayan said at a news conference
      in Cairo that 62 Egyptians, two Sudanese, three Syrians, and
      one Chilean were aboard the plane as passengers. There was
      no record of the nationality of the other 131 passengers,
      and Rayan said he believed some of those were U.S. citizens.

      The plane departed at 1:19 a.m. EST. The plane was flying at
      33,000 feet (9,900 meters), said Eliot Brenner, chief
      spokesman for the FAA in Washington.

      There was no indication of a distress call, U.S. officials
      said. But airport officials in Cairo said the last
      communication from the plane's crew was an SOS sent after
      the takeoff from New York.

      The FAA contacted the Coast Guard about 2:15 a.m. EST, said
      Coast Guard Lt. Gary Jones.

      "We're doing a very, very aggressive airborne search at this moment.
      Basically, if there is someone out there to be
      saved, saving lives at sea is our most important mission and
      we're doing that," Jones said.

      As is standard operating procedure for a missing commericial
      airliner, the FBI New York Field Office has begun working
      with FAA officials.

      FBI agents are at JFK airport, along with members of the
      Joint Terrorist Task Force, where they have launched an
      investigation into the flight. FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette
      told CNN that "agents are going over the flight manifest,
      identifying everyone who touched the plane, including those
      who serviced and gassed the aircraft."

      Valiquette cautioned that there is "no reason to assume this is a
      terrorist act."

      An FAA spokesman said the plane departed two hours and 20
      minutes late from JFK because it was late coming in from Los

      The National Weather Service said that at about the time the
      plane took off from JFK there was dense fog in the New York
      area, but the fog may not have played a role in the plane's

      "The fog definitely would not have been a factor, you just don't care
      whether there's fog or not in a plane as advanced
      as a 767," retired airline Capt. Art Cornelius told CNN.

      The airline identified the pilot as Hakim Rushdi, who had
      more than 10,000 hours of flight experience. Colleagues
      described him as a "very experienced pilot." The airline said he had
      been in contact with his son, also an EgyptAir
      pilot, hours before leaving.

      Early reports said that the plane had landed in Edwards Air
      Force Base in California before continuing on to JFK. But
      Pentagon officials and Robert Kelly, director of aviation
      for the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, dismissed
      the report and said the plane flew directly to New York from
      Los Angeles.

      The airliner is a 10-year-old 767-300ER, an extended-range
      plane known for its North Atlantic service, said Boeing
      spokeswoman Barbara Murphy.

      "It's an airplane that has enjoyed a wonderful safety
      record," she said.

      EgyptAir has a fleet of 38 planes and flies to some 85
      airports around the world.

      The National Transportation Safety Board has begun an
      investigation, an NTSB spokesman said, and the New York Port
      Authority has set up a mobile command center.


      Passenger Counsels Victim Families

      The Associated Press
      Sunday, Oct. 31, 1999; 4:14 p.m. EST

      NEW YORK -- Only one passenger got off
      EgyptAir Flight 990 when it landed in New York, but
      in a strange twist, his services were needed by the
      airline almost immediately.

      Ed McLaughlin works for the Family Enterprise
      Institute, which helps airlines notify family
      members of air accident victims.

      McLaughlin even participated in a news conference
      eight hours after the plane went down,
      describing his work to reporters.

      "We work with EgyptAir to try to help the families
      with the notification process," he said. "At the
      moment we're struggling to get everything together."

      McLaughlin never mentioned that he'd been on
      the doomed plane and was the only passenger of the
      33 who boarded in Los Angeles to get off in New York.
      The plane vanished off radar screens near
      Nantucket Island while en route to Cairo from
      New York.

      Later Sunday, Robert Boyle, executive director of
      the Port Authority, which manages the airport,
      confirmed that McLoughlin was on the plane
      as a "contract worker" for EgyptAir.

      "We have confirmed it was McLaughlin," Boyle
      said. "And we think he's the only person who got

      McLaughlin could not immediately be
      located for comment.

      � Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


      Monday November 1 3:09 AM ET

      Body Retrieved From EgyptAir Crash

      By DAVID CRARY AP National Writer

      BOSTON (AP) - An EgyptAir jetliner bound for Cairo with 217 people on
      board plunged 33,000 feet in two minutes, crashing into the ocean off
      Nantucket Island early Sunday. Dozens of American tourists were among
      the passengers.

      By nightfall, searchers had retrieved debris and one body, but held out
      little hope of finding survivors in the chilly Atlantic waters.

      Authorities said the pilots made no distress call before the Boeing 767
      crashed about a half hour after leaving New York. Though the FBI and
      other intelligence agencies began checking on the possibility of
      sabotage, President Clinton and other officials said there was no
      immediate indication of foul play.

      ``Life will never be the same without my parents,'' said Hisham Elzanaty
      of Searingtown, N.Y., whose parents were on the plane. ``We spent last
      night together until one in the morning. They prayed for us and we
      wished them a safe flight.''

      Searchers found two partially inflated life rafts, life jackets,
      passports, seat cushions and other small debris, none with any burn
      marks, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Richard M. Larrabee. A finding of such
      marks on debris could suggest the possibility of a fire or explosion
      aboard the plane.

      ``We do not know at this point what caused the crash,'' said Jim Hall,
      chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. ``We are beginning
      what may be a long investigation.''

      Clinton, about to depart for Europe for Middle East peace talks, said
      there was ``no evidence ... at this time'' of foul play.

      ``I think it's better if people draw no conclusions until we know
      something,'' said Clinton, who called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
      to offer condolences and U.S. assistance.

      The air search was suspended after dark, but ships continued scouring
      the area.

      Coast Guard Senior Chief Al Johnson said two of the plane's evacuation
      slides were recovered after dark, along with other pieces of debris that
      measured up to 2 feet square.

      ``We are still in the search and rescue mode and still looking for
      possible survivors,'' he said.

      Still, the Coast Guard said chances of anyone surviving more than 12
      hours in the 58-degree water were slim.

      A Navy salvage ship, the USS Grapple, and Navy divers left Norfolk, Va.,
      Sunday night and were expected to join the search by late Monday, with
      orders to take debris and remains to a Navy base in Rhode Island.

      U.S. officials indicated a majority of the 199 passengers on Flight 990
      were Americans, including a group of 54 people bound for a 14-day trip
      to Egypt and the Nile. Alan Lewis, chief executive of the Boston-based
      travel agency Grand Circle Corp., said most of the group members were
      from Colorado, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.

      Among them was Jan Duckworth, 69, of Denver, who worked as a clerk in
      the Colorado House of Representatives for 22 years. ``It was her first
      trip to Egypt. She had been talking about it since way last winter,''
      said Judith ``J.R.'' Rodrigue, chief clerk of the House.

      The plane started its flight in Los Angeles and stopped at New York's
      John F. Kennedy International Airport. It took off again at 1:19 a.m.
      EST and went down at 1:52 a.m., roughly 60 miles south of Nantucket. The
      Coast Guard deployed ships, reconnaissance planes and helicopters to
      search an area of about 36 square miles, in waters about 270 feet deep.

      State-owned EgyptAir, confronted with the worst crash in its history,
      said non-American passengers included 62 Egyptians, two Sudanese, three
      Syrians and one Chilean. There were 18 crew members, EgyptAir said.

      It was the fourth time in three years that a major search operation was
      launched in the region for a plane lost at sea. The series of crashes
      began with TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in July 1996, followed by
      Swissair Flight 111 off Nova Scotia in September 1998 and the
      single-engine plane carrying John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and her
      sister off Martha's Vineyard in July.

      EgyptAir Chairman Mohammed Fahim Rayan was asked about reports that the
      Federal Aviation Administration had warned EgyptAir of a terrorist

      ``We take all precautions and we have plenty of warnings from everybody,
      including the FAA,'' he replied.

      Armed security guards routinely fly on EgyptAir flights.

      At the Cairo airport, sobs echoed though a restaurant where officials
      set up an information center for passengers' relatives.

      A man in his 60s found a familiar name on a passenger list and collapsed
      into a chair, crying out, ``My son, my son.''

      Similar wrenching scenes unfolded at the Ramada Plaza Hotel near Kennedy
      airport, where more than 20 relatives were consoled by Red Cross
      workers, Muslim clerics and even New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

      ``It's horrible in there. Everybody's crying, everybody is in
      mourning,'' Mahmoud Hamza, who lost two friends on the flight, said as
      he fought back tears.

      A Canadian newspaper, La Presse in Montreal, said one of its executives
      and his wife were aboard. Deputy publisher Claude Masson and his wife,
      Jeannine Bourdages, both 58, were headed on vacation.

      Flight 990 began its precipitous descent at 1:50 a.m. while flying at
      33,000 feet. Hall said the plane dropped about 14,000 feet over the next
      36 seconds, and the last radar signal was at 1:52 a.m.

      That rate of descent would ``indicate the plane was almost out of
      control,'' said Michael Barr, head of the aviation safety program at the
      University of Southern California. The slower descent rate after 19,100
      feet could indicate an in-flight breakup, investigators suggested.

      Weather at Nantucket was clear with 9 miles of visibility and wind of 9
      mph, the National Weather Service said. The Coast Guard reported gentle

      The EgyptAir plane was on a route similar to the one taken by Swissair
      Flight 111. Planes on that route fly from Kennedy to Nantucket, then
      turn north to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland before heading east across
      the Atlantic.

      The EgyptAir plane, named Thutmosis II after a pharaoh who ruled Egypt
      around 1450 B.C., was a Boeing 767-300ER delivered to the airline in
      September 1989. The FAA said the plane had 33,354 flight hours.

      EgyptAir, founded in 1932 as Misr Airwork, has a fleet of 38 planes and
      flies to some 85 airports around the world. Critics have called for the
      privatization of the company, one of the oldest in Africa and the Middle
      East, amid reports of bad management and bad service.

      The airline has never had as deadly a crash. In 1976, an EgyptAir Boeing
      707 jetliner crashed during an approach to the Bangkok, Thailand,
      airport. All 55 persons aboard were killed as well as factory workers on
      the ground.

      Sunday's crash comes after the Oct. 19 hijack of an EgyptAir flight
      between Istanbul and Cairo. That hijacking ended peacefully in Germany
      where the hijacker was overpowered; none of the 46 passengers on board
      was harmed.

      The Boeing 767 is a twin-engine, wide-body passenger jet that went into
      passenger use in September 1982.

      Previously, a Boeing 767 crashed in May 1991, in Thailand. The Lauda Air
      plane went down after one of its engine thrust reversers accidentally
      deployed during a climb, killing all 10 crew and 213 passengers.

      The United States airline industry had a fatality-free year in 1998, but
      this year an American Airlines jet crashed at Little Rock, Ark., killing
      11 people.

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