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Navy: Toll in USS Cole blast likely to be 17 dead Gallery October 13, 2000 Web posted at: 11:13 a.m. EDT (1513 GMT)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In this story:

Remains still in the wreckage

Injured evacuated



CNN Correspondents Carl Rochelle, Matthew Chance, Chris Burns and Mark Potter contributed to this report.

ADEN, Yemen (CNN) -- The U.S. sailors wounded in the apparent terrorist bombing of the USS Cole were evacuated Friday and the Navy announced that 10 missing sailors are presumed dead. That would raise the death toll in the Yemen attack to 17.

The remains of five U.S. sailors killed in yesterday's explosion are scheduled to arrive at Ramstein Air Base in Germany this hour. Later, the bodies will be flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The Navy on Friday released the names of the killed and missing in the attack.

Navy officials also said explosives experts who examined the warship's damaged hull have concluded that Thursday's blast in the port of Aden came from an external source, adding to the evidence that the attack was a deliberate act, possibly a suicide bombing.

The Cole, a $1 billion guided missile destroyer with a crew of 350 men and women, is based in Norfolk, Virginia.

The midday explosion that ripped a large hole in the ship's hull is believed to have come from a small boat carrying two men who pulled up alongside the Cole, stood at attention and set off a high-explosive charge while the ship was refueling in Yemen, located on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula on the Red Sea.

The 505-foot-long ship remained afloat but listing Friday in Aden harbor, white plastic sheeting stretched across the hole now estimated at 30 feet high and 40 feet wide, the Navy said. The initial estimate was 20 feet high and 40 feet wide.

Remains still in the wreckage At the Pentagon, the Navy said families of the 10 missing sailors are being notified that they are presumed to have died in the explosion. Efforts to recover their remains in the wreckage are continuing.

"Inside the ship, there is significant damage and there's twisted metal ... so the challenge is getting through all that," Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, told CNN.

In addition to the seven confirmed dead and 10 presumed dead, the blast also injured more than 30 sailors, three of whom returned to duty Friday.

Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Cate Mueller said a team of Navy explosive ordnance disposal experts examined the damaged hull of the Cole and determined conclusively that the explosion was caused by an external source.

That strengthens the belief that the incident was a terrorist act, officials said.

Yemeni officials rejected the accusations of a suicide attack, saying a joint investigation was needed to determine the cause of the blast.

Injured evacuated The French Defense Ministry said Friday its army planes had taken 11 of the most seriously injured U.S. sailors to a military hospital in neighboring Djibouti, where six underwent surgery.

The Navy said 22 other wounded sailors were evacuated Friday to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military facility at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

No one has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack, the worst against the U.S. military since the bombing of an Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996 that killed 19 troops.

Investigators examine the hole, covered by a large white sheet, in the side of the USS Cole, in Aden, Yemen, Friday Anti-American sentiment has been running high in the Arab world, where protesters have condemned the United States during demonstrations against Israel's actions in two weeks of deadly clashes in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

President Bill Clinton dispatched to Yemen investigative teams from the FBI, the State Department and the Pentagon. Clinton also ordered a heightened state of alert for all U.S. military installations around the world.

The Cole was attacked while on its way to the Persian Gulf for maritime operations in support of the U.N. embargo against Iraq.

Yemen became a more frequent refueling stop for Navy ships following a December 1997 U.S. decision to open up contacts and cooperation with the country. Four years earlier, there had been small bombings outside the U.S. Embassy and at hotels where Americans were staying.

-- K (, October 13, 2000

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