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On United Airlines Flight, Man Tries to Break into Cockpit

Aired February 7, 2002 - 12:01   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Danger on a United Airlines flight from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina: a man tried to break into the cockpit, but was subdued by crew members and passengers. An FAA spokesman says the passenger never made it inside the cockpit, fully anyway. The flight landed safely in Buenos Aires. We're going to bring you the very latest on the story right now from Argentina.

A reporter from CNN Espanol is with us now.

Carolina Cayazzo -- excuse me, Caroline, I apologize for the mispronunciation there. If you can hear me OK, are they saying there at the airport Buenos Aires.

CAROLINE CAYAZZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Bill. That's correct, a Uruguayan banker passenger Pablo Morcira (ph) tried to force his way into the cockpit of United Airlines plight 855, but the pilot hit him with an ax to subdue him. That's what the airline said. The man was arrested when the Boeing 777 coming from Miami landed safely in Buenos Aires.

United Airlines spokesman Joe Hopkins (ph) confirms says that the man was subdued by one or two pilots, the lead flight attendant and one other passenger.

One of the panels of the cockpit door was blown out. Hopkins says that the pilot hit a man with the ax located in the cockpit. The axes are kept in the cockpit, in the case the crew needs them in an emergency. United Airlines says it had notified local authorities and the FBI about (UNINTELLIGIBLE). In a statement, United Airlines said flights to and from Argentina would continue as scheduled. Morcira he will be charged with interfering with a flight crew and flown back to Miami sometime late today -- Bill.

HEMMER: Caroline, we were speaking last hour with a passenger on board that plane who witnessed it all. He described in very graphic detail what had happened there, but he also mentioned a colleague may have been flying with his man as well. do you know anything about a colleague on board, or are we just talking about one individual here?

CAYAZZO: Up to now the authorities and the FBI are talking about just this on Uruguayan passenger. He may have flown here with somebody else, but that doesn't mean that the other person would have been involved or was involved, or we do not have confirmed information that he indeed came with somebody else. All that the authorities are speaking now that made this problem and tried to enter the cockpit was this Uruguay banker Morcira.

Also, the FBI said that Morcira did not appear drunk and was not armed. There was some confusion in the begin that can somebody said that he may appear drunk, but that is not what the FBI is saying. And they also say that he was not armed, and the FBI also said that he was treated for injuries and was lucid and in stable condition. And the FBI said that there was -- the people were not aware that he made any threat, just going into the cockpit, but they were not aware he had made any statements threatening the pilots -- Bill.

HEMMER: Carolina Cayazzo, CNN Espanol reporting there by telephone there in Buenos Aires.

Now back in this country, the story and the focus moves to the FBI, who have indicated they will fly that man back to the U.S., live to Miami,

Mark Potter is tracking that side of the story.

Mark, what have we learned?

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, the first thing I want to say is that there is confusion it a appears over the man's name. Originally the FBI said it was Pablo Morcira. Now they are saying that it is Pablo Moreria -- M-O-R-E-R-I-A. We're going to straigten that out, but that confusion still is with us at this time.

He is described as a 28-year-old Uruguayan man that worked in a bank, and the FBI said that indeed, as we just heard, the FBI will be flown back here to Miami some time today in the custody of FBI agents, where he will be facing federal charges of interfering with a flight crew.

According to the FBI, this is what happened from their standpoint: the flight, United 855, left Miami at midnight. The incident occurred at 5:30 this morning, and as you heard, it was brought under control by a copilot who hit the man in the head with a ax after he partially breached the door and got inside of the cockpit. But any way, we are told that it is under control, and he will be brought back here to face federal charges, some time today most likely, Bill.

HEMMER: Mark, thanks, keep us posted. Mark Potter, live in Miami.

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