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U.S. destroyer rammed in Yemen port; at least 4 dead
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (October 12, 2000 7:57 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A U.S. Navy ship in port in Africa was struck Thursday by a small boat on what U.S. officials described as a suicide mission, killing at least four Americans and injuring at least 30, the Defense Department said.
The destroyer USS Cole was in port at Aden, Yemen, when it was rammed and an explosion followed, a Pentagon official said.
The registry of the small boat and the nationality of its occupants were not immediately known.
Yemen is on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula on the Red Sea.
-- Rachel Gibson (email@example.com), October 12, 2000
Thursday October 12 9:24 AM ET Explosive-Laden Raft Rams U.S. Ship in Yemen, 4 Dead
By Rawhi Abeidoh
DUBAI (Reuters) - An explosives-laden rubber raft rammed a U.S. guided missile destroyer and exploded in the Yemeni port of Aden on Thursday, killing four U.S. sailors and injuring 31, five seriously, U.S. Navy officials said.
Another sailor from the USS Cole was missing, Lieutenant-Commander Daren Pelkie, spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, told Reuters.
``A U.S. army major saw a rubber raft run into the ship, causing the explosion,'' Pelkie said.
He said the destroyer had been refueling in Aden when the explosion occurred at 12:15 p.m. Bahrain time.
Asked if the explosion was deliberate, he said: ``We don't know why a rubber raft would be carrying explosives.''
``The explosion was big enough to cause a 20-foot by 40-foot'' (six-by-12 meters) gash in the left side of the ship along the waterline and that the vessel was listing 40 degrees.
In Washington, Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Meghan Mariman said the U.S. sailors were trying ``very hard to keep the ship afloat,'' adding that the vessel was carrying about 300 people.
Pelkie said flooding aboard the destroyer had been controlled and there were no reports of fire.
He said that no one had claimed responsibility for the blast.
Mariman said there was no indication why the Virginia-based destroyer, commissioned in 1996 and armed with standard missiles and torpedoes, was attacked while on a refueling stop from the Red Sea to Bahrain in the Gulf.
Yemen Says Blast Inside Ship
Yemeni officials confirmed the explosion, but said it occurred inside the vessel.
``Preliminary information indicates that the explosion happened inside the ship in the supplies section,'' a Yemeni naval official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
But Lieutenant Terrence Dudley from the Fifth Fleet said: ''We know it (the blast) occurred externally. An investigation is underway.''
It was not immediately known if any people were aboard the rubber raft.
Anti-U.S. sentiments are running high in much of the Arab world, including Yemen, over Washington's perceived support of Israel during two weeks of fierce Israeli-Palestinian violence.
In Aden, witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that it rattled buildings near the port, one of the Arabian peninsula's largest.
They said Yemeni security officials rushed to the port where the U.S. ship was anchored.
Witnesses saw ambulances carrying the wounded, but reporters were not allowed to approach the scene.
(Additional reporting by Ghaida Ghantous)
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 12, 2000.