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Breaking News

Hijacked Russian Jet Lands In Saudi Arabia

Aired March 15, 2001 - 10:07 a.m. ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, we want to bring our viewers the latest on the hijacking story out of Istanbul.

And for that, let's go live to Istanbul and to our Jane Arraf -- Jane. Jane, can you hear us?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can.

KAGAN: OK, Daryn Kagan in Atlanta. What's the latest you know on this hijacking situation?

ARRAF: Daryn, the latest is unconfirmed. But the latest is that this plane appears to have landed in Saudi Arabia in the city of Jeddah. That's according to covering news agency. Still no confirmation from airport sources here.

The things we do know is that the plane was hijacked shortly after takeoff from Istanbul. A charter plane with 162 people on board, bound for Moscow. Fifty-nine of those were Turkish. And some of the relatives of those people are starting to arrive here at the airport, to try to find out what's going on.

Airport authorities are reporting what appears to be an absolutely terrifying ride with an apparent scuffle in the cockpit. Now, the Turkish transport minister says at least one person appears to have been wounded, stabbed by one of the hijackers apparently carrying a knife.

At that point, it seems the plane dropped in a very short period of time by 10,000 feet. It went from 24,000 feet to 14,000 feet, airport sources say.

No indication of who the hijackers are, however. Authorities here were saying that they originally identified themselves as Chechens. That has not been independently confirmed. There are Chechen separatists fighting for Islamic state against Russia. But it has not been confirm who the hijackers are or what they were demanding.

The original report was that they had asked to be taken to an Arab country, and then asked to be taken to the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. As it appears now, they may have landed in a nearby city in Jeddah -- Daryn. KAGAN: All right, Jane Arraf in Istanbul, thank you so much. We're working on confirming that information. Thank you for the latest.

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