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Searching for Answers

August 10, 1998 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: The bodies of 11 of the 12 Americans killed in Friday’s blast in Nairobi began their final trip home today from Kenyatta International Airport. Draped in American flags, the coffins were loaded onto U.S. military aircraft, as Kenyan and American officials looked on. For many embassy workers this was the first opportunity to reflect on the tragedy.

CHRIS SHARF, U.S. Embassy Spokesman: We have not actually had time to ponder the losses that we have suffered. It has been 24 hours a day for many people. Our embassy doctor, I believe, is probably working 48 hours straight tending to the dying and dead.

KWAME HOLMAN: The explosion in Nairobi killed at least 200 people and injured another 5,000. Some 60 FBI agents are in the Kenyan capital investigating the bombing. Meanwhile, the search for survivors continues aided by a renowned rescue team from the Israeli military. The unit, with its special equipment and sniffer dogs, arrived Saturday and immediately pulled three people from the wreckage. This afternoon, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Prudence Bushnell –who was injured in Friday’s blast–toured the scene.

PRUDENCE BUSHNELL, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya: All of the people around here have come to our rescue, and when I say our rescue I mean not only Americans but Kenyans and they are doing an absolutely superb job working day in and day out.

KWAME HOLMAN: Over the weekend, hospital lists of the dead and injured were posted in Nairobi. The International Red Cross hopes the lists will help reunite families, account for people still missing, and identify unclaimed bodies.

NINA GALBE, International Red Cross: We have at least forty persons who were working in that building, the collapsed building, who have gone missing. We have, as well, 40 unidentified bodies from the hospital morgues alone.

KWAME HOLMAN: For those who have claimed the dead, it was a weekend of mourning. And the grieving continued in the Tanzanian capitol of Dar es Salaam as people gathered outside a morgue to await the release of the bodies of those killed in the nearly-simultaneous attack there. Ten were killed and seventy-four injured. FBI investigators are at work there too.

U.S. Marines have sealed off the block around the embassy with sand bags and barbed wire. Unlike Nairobi, the embassy in Dar Es Salaam is in a sparsely populated residential area, helping explain the much lower death toll. Damage also was limited because the building itself is specially reinforced; it previously served as the Israeli embassy. Tanzania’s longtime former president, Julius Nyerere inspected the site today.

JULIUS K. NYERERE, Former President, Tanzania: I don’t think whoever perpetuated it was intending to attack Kenya or to attack Tanzania, I think it was clearly directed at the United States, but it was in Kenya, it was in Tanzania, and Kenyans and Tanzanians as well as Americans have died.

KWAME HOLMAN: Tanzanian authorities say several suspects have been detained in connection with the blast. Today in Louisville, Kentucky, President Clinton gave an update on the U.S. efforts.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: You should all know that our teams are on the ground in Africa; they’re tending to the wounded; they are providing security. They are searching and finding evidence. We will do whatever we can to bring the murderers to justice.

KWAME HOLMAN: But American officials on both continents continue to have no formal word on who may be responsible for either attack.