Indiana Daily Student

Tragedy in Bahrain

Airplane crashes into Persian Gulf

The situation continues to grow bleak as rescue workers search for answers to explain why Gulf Air Airbus A320 crashed into the Persian Gulf Wednesday night. \nAs of press time, no survivors had been found, but officials had retrieved 70 bodies. Neither the Bahraini government nor the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain offered many answers other than what was already reported.\nEmbassy Public Affairs Officer Donna Whiton said the Bahraini Naval Force and government were taking control of the tragedy. She seemed confident in the Bahraini forces. "All I can tell you is Bahrain has first rate naval and military forces," she said. "They should be able to handle such a situation." \nU.S. Navy helicopters and boats, including some from the 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, joined the nighttime search and rescue effort in the Gulf waters, according to the Pentagon. Bahrain television said some aircraft wreckage had been found at the site of the crash three or four miles off shore. \nThe rescue effort was joined by two SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters from the USS George Washington carrier battle group, which happened to be in port in Bahrain, and one shore-based H-3 Sea King helicopter, Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman said. The Navy also sent two small ships, an auxiliary ship and two destroyers to the scene to help.\nIn the capital, Manama, helicopters and dozens of ambulances headed toward the airport. Weeping relatives of passengers on Flight GF072 pleaded with policemen who threw a security ring around the airport. No one was allowed through to the terminal building. \nA huge traffic jam swiftly built up the length of the five-mile road to the airport. \nInformation Ministry officials had no immediate word on the cause of the crash or confirmation of the number of people on board. \nPlane manufacturer Airbus Industrie released a statement over their Web site which said they would "provide technical assistance to the investigation authorities who will be responsible for the investigation into the accident. A team of specialists from Airbus Industrie is being dispatched to Bahrain." \nIn Cairo, only a handful of relatives of the passengers were at the airport in search of information on the fate of their loved ones and friends. \nThe Gulf Air office at the airport was closed. \nGulf Air is owned by Bahrain, the Gulf states of Oman and Qatar, as well as Abu Dhabi, the largest of seven sheikdoms making up the United Arab Emirates. Based in Bahrain, the airline flies to 53 international destinations. \nWhiton said Bahrain is a regional hub for planes to take off and land. She couldn't remember the last time a plane went down in Bahrain. She added that finding answers for the crash will take time partly because the names of those on board haven't been released. "It's going to be a long process. I can't offer you any information about the plane."\nThe Associated Press contributed to this story.

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