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Evacuation at Miami International Airport

Aired August 21, 2002 - 11:04   ET

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


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We've got someone joining us now. Do we have Kim ready? We have a producer in our Miami bureau, who's been talking with fire officials there, and who may have some more information.
Kim Segal, are you there?

KIM SEGAL, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, I am, Leon.

HARRIS: Hi, Kim. What do you know?

SEGAL: Well, we just heard from the Miami-Dade fire chief that what had happened was there was a bag full of some kind of substance, was going through the security checkpoint at the airport in concourse B, and all of the people surrounding this checkpoint where the bag was going through security had trouble breathing and starting to get sick. We also know there is eight people that are being treated with respiratory problems. These eight people were the people standing around the security checkpoint, as this bag, all the substance went through. And that's the latest we know right now.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Were those -- of the eight, were they personnel that were working those checkpoints, or are these passengers?

SEGAL: At this point, we do not know.

HARRIS: Did they give you any information about how wide the area of dispersal of this stuff may be?

SEGAL: No, they did not. Right now, all they could tell us was that this bag was going through. They still had not found the bag yet, they are telling us. The fire department is telling us they are looking for this bag with this substance, because obviously they want to test it. But the airport, concourse B has been evacuated.

HARRIS: So let me get this straight -- the bag went through security, and apparently caused some problems there, but they let the bag, this material go through security, and the person who was actually carrying the bag also went through, is that correct?

SEGAL: That we do not know. What we do know is that they told us that the bag did go through the checkpoint. Someone obviously had seen this bag, and we don't know if someone claimed the bag afterwards. We don't know if the bag was still sitting there, and the person who took the bag through had disappeared. At this point, they really did not know. HARRIS: If you can, Kim, I am sure have you been to the airport a number of times as well. Can you describe for us just how close this security checkpoint would be to any of the gates?

SEGAL: Actually, the security checkpoints are very far from the gates. It depends on the concourse are you in. Concourse B is a main concourse for American Airline, which in Miami flies most of their flights out of here, especially to Central and South America. But the airport is always bustling. Lots of people are always in that airport. It's a very big airport, and some gates are literally you feel like miles away, but then there is other gates, and the airport is really -- has a lot of gates, a lot of passengers, though only eight people thus far. We don't know, you know, what's going to happen with that number.

HARRIS: You say that this particular security checkpoint would actually be closer to the street than it would be to a gate?

SEGAL: No, that is in correct. It's -- right when you go past the ticket counter, you would walk not too far down, and you would be at the security checkpoint.

HARRIS: Got you. But I am just curious about the person who was with that bag. Was -- does anyone know anything about that person, or where that person is, or if that person is at somewhere loose within the airport?

SEGAL: I can tell you, Leon, we are all asking the same questions. We are -- they had just broke the story. Apparently the people just started coughing and not feeling well at 10:00 this morning. So we are only -- the police and the fire department who work in this are only an hour and a few minutes into it. They have not told us -- they are trying to get us as much information as they can, but their priority, obviously, is their investigation. So as soon as they tell us, we will be the first to bring it to you.

HARRIS: You got it. Kim, we will let you go, so you can go back to bugging. Get back to us when you hear something, OK?

SEGAL: Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Thank you, Kim.

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