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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Six Killed in Black Hawk Crash near Tikrit

Aired November 7, 2003 - 06:00   ET

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

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get an update now on the crash of a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter near Tikrit.
CNN's Matthew Chance is in Baghdad and joins us now live with the very latest from there.

Good morning once again -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, good morning to you.

And it's been confirmed that all six U.S. personnel on board that Black Hawk helicopter that crashed just outside the north central town of Tikrit have been confirmed dead to us by coalition authorities. It's the second U.S. helicopter that has come down in Iraq in less than a week.

This Black Hawk was flying just a short distance outside of Tikrit en route to Camp Iron Horse, which is the main U.S. military base inside of Tikrit, which is, of course, Saddam Hussein's hometown.

What hasn't been answered yet is why this crash happened, whether it was brought down as a result of hostile fire or whether it was some kind of mechanical failure. But the thing is, this crash comes just a day after a memorial service was held elsewhere in Iraq for the 15 -- now 16 -- U.S. soldiers that were killed when their Chinook helicopter was blasted out of the skies by what eyewitnesses say was a surface- to-air missile on Sunday.

And so, obviously the possibility that this was as a result of hostile fire, although it hasn't been commented on yet and there is no indication of it, it is just that -- a possibility -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Matthew, I want to ask you a little bit more about that. When Sunday's crash happened, it seemed like we knew pretty early on that this was due to a missile. Does it seem strange that it's taking a while to learn either way? I mean, usually it takes a while to investigate a crash, but usually somebody sees something.

CHANCE: Yes, I mean, that's the likelihood, although it's not, you know, really up to us, I think, to say what was or was not the cause of this crash until we do get some feedback from the investigation. But certainly, in the incident in Fallujah, we did have eyewitnesses that were talking about seeing people firing a surface-to-air missile towards the chopper. We haven't had any of those eyewitness reports so far.

In fact, the pilot of the other chopper that was flying, you know, in formation with this Black Hawk that crashed said that he didn't see any hostile fire. So, whether that was actually what happened, whether it was some kind of mechanical failure, we'll just have to wait and see.

COLLINS: Yes, we will indeed. The very latest also, Matthew, if you could, on Mosul and the situation there.

CHANCE: Yes, well, elsewhere in north central Iraq in Mosul, which is north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, another incident of the kind that illustrates -- on the ground the kind that illustrates just what kind of attacks U.S. and coalition forces are encountering on a daily basis. We're told by the 101st Airborne Division, a spokesman for the division, that one of their convoys came under attack from RPGs and small-arms fire. At least one U.S. soldier killed, another six injured.

So, a very dangerous period, a very dangerous location for U.S. forces on the ground -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Matthew Chance live from Baghdad this morning. Thanks so much for the update on those two incidents.

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