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Was rocket crash deadlier than reported?

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Smuggled video shows China disaster

March 24, 1996
Web posted at: 1:40 p.m. EST (1840 GMT)

XICHANG, China (CNN) -- The explosion of a Chinese rocket that crashed into a populated area on February 14 may have been deadlier than previously announced. (1.1 MB QuickTime movie)

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Israel's Channel Two television has broadcast what it says is smuggled video footage of a Chinese village ravaged in the fiery crash. (1 MB QuickTime movie) The rocket was to have sent a U.S.-built satellite into orbit.

The video, reportedly taken one day after the crash, shows a large area of the town of Xichang destroyed. There are flattened houses, and apartment buildings without walls and roofs. Chinese soldiers are seen looking through the wreckage.

The Israeli report, first aired on Saturday night, said the video was shot and smuggled out by an Israeli scientist who was in China for the launch. It did not identify the scientist.

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The rocket, carrying an Intelsat 708 communications satellite, veered off course within seconds after clearing the launch tower. The satellite was designed to provide voice, data, and video services across the Americas, Africa and Europe.

China lifted a veil of secrecy two weeks later, saying six people were killed and 57 wounded. But the video suggests many more people may have died.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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