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Breaking News

Military Plane Crashes in Georgia With 21 People Aboard

Aired March 3, 2001 - 2:00 p.m. ET

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

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has now confirmed a military plane crash in central Georgia. It was a C-23, had 21 people on board when it went down near the town of Unadilla, and the plane belonged to the Florida National Guard.

Now, joining us on the telephone right now is John Birdsong. He's the public affairs officer at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, and he's with air logistics.

Mr. Birdsong, can you tell us if there are any survivors at this point? Do you know?

JOHN BIRDSONG, AIR FORCE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER: No, Donna, I don't. We haven't received any real -- in fact, you probably have more information than we do at the moment. We just know that the aircraft was on its way from Hurlburt Field in Florida, which is down around Fort Walton Beach, Florida, was on its way to Oceania, Virginia.

Crashed about 11:00 this morning, near a small town called Unadilla, which is about 45 miles south of here at the base. We have a what we call a disaster control group, which is on its way down there now to lend any support that they can.

KELLEY: Was it doing a training mission? Do you have any idea what the purpose was?

BIRDSONG: No. Basically, Donna, that's all the information we have right now. It'll be a little bit later today before we know more details, especially until after our disaster control group gets down there.

KELLEY: Can you tell us at all if know what the conditions might have been where the plane went down, if weather might have even been a factor or any information on that front?

BIRDSONG: I really wouldn't want to speculate, but I know from being just at home that it was really pouring down raining around that time. So it was some heavy weather at that time.

KELLEY: We have information, Mr. Birdsong, that says that the plane was carrying three crew members and 18 passengers. What does that mean? And were they not all military? BIRDSONG: Well, as I said, we don't have any -- we're not releasing any figures or we haven't not confirmed which services they were with or whether it was more than one service, or the number of people even yet.

KELLEY: Did you hear whether or not there was a fire on the ground or if the plane is on fire, or if there was any noise, or anything that could have been like an explosion?

BIRDSONG: No. Basically, everything I know is what I've told you so far.

KELLEY: OK. From Robins Air Force base in Georgia, John Birdsong, who is the public affairs officer with air logistics. We're glad that you could give us what information you do have, and we'll hope to get more from you when you get it. Thank you.

It, the accident happened about 10:00 this morning Eastern time. Plane departed the 171st Aviation Battalion that had taken off from Lakeland, Florida. Of course, as you can hear, story's still developing. We'll try and get you more information as we get it.

We have affiliates we're working with, and we should get our first pictures in. And we also have our correspondent, Mike Boettcher and our crew on the way there, on the story and so we will be getting more information for you just as soon as we can.

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