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Breaking News

State Department Issues Travel Warning for Americans

Aired October 12, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: An apparent terrorist attack on a U.S. Navy destroyer at port in Yemen. At least four sailors dead, dozens more missing and wounded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The explosion you see is Israelis striking back to avenge the deaths of two soldiers killed in the West Bank. Yasser Arafat calls the retaliation, in his words, a declaration of war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: It's now 2:00 on the East Coast, and this is Thursday, October 12th.

ALLEN: And we continue on with our coverage. We want to let you that we expect a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to begin shortly. In the past hour he announced that Israel's retaliation in the cities of Gaza and Ramallah would end for the evening. It's now 8:00 there. So when that news conference begins, we will provide live coverage.

First, however, military sources for the United States say a terrorist attack did occur on a Navy destroyer today. It happened in the Yemeni port of Aden. At least four sailors are dead. About 35 are reported injured, many of them with burns. And we're told that about a dozen sailors are reported missing. So it is believed that the death count from this presumed terrorist attack will continue to go up.

This explosion that happened was so fierce that it apparently flipped a car some 20 yards away from where it happened. It shattered windows in nearby hotels in this area.

Apparently the USS Cole had just pulled into the port for a refueling stop. This would have taken the destroyer some four to six hours there in the port. During this time, a small boat came up alongside of the USS Cole and that apparently is when the explosion occurred.

According to CNN's Jamie McIntyre, who's at the Pentagon, eye- witnesses said that two men aboard the small boat appeared to stand at attention just before the explosion occurred, an explosion that knocked huge hole in the USS Cole. FBI investigators are on their way to the area to look into it. And as we just heard from President Clinton a short time ago, the U.S. will find out what happened, who was responsible and will respond appropriately.

As a result of today's heightened violence in the world, the U.S. State Department has just issued a travel warning for Americans. For more about that, we turn to CNN's Andrea Koppel. She's at the State Department -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, that travel warning is actually going to be a worldwide caution. It has yet to come out. But there is a copy that's circulating here within the State Department.

What it is, essentially, is merely a warning to Americans who either are overseas right now or who are thinking about traveling overseas at any point in the near future to be on alert, stay away from large crowds, obviously, exercise extreme caution while they're overseas. It's not telling people to stay home here in the United States.

But there is a footnote to that worldwide caution. And that is, when it comes out later this afternoon, an announcement telling all Americans to defer travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The State Department earlier today, Natalie, sent out a cable to all of its embassies within the Middle East to ask them to call their emergency teams together to review the security at their particular embassies.

There has be no decision yet within the State Department to have certain embassies in the Middle East shut down and that warning has also gone out, the cable to review security measures, has also gone out to embassies around the world.

Trying to get a sense on the ground of just what the situation is, we've seen in recent weeks and certainly in recent days a lot of anti-American demonstrations, both in the Arab world and even within Europe just yesterday, there was a large demonstration, a particularly violent demonstration, outside the U.S. embassy in Brussels.

And so Natalie, at this point, we know that there is going to be this worldwide caution that will come out later this afternoon to tell Americans to be on alert.

ALLEN: All right, Andrea Koppel at the State Department.

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