Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
February 03, 1998
Q: [Inaudible] in Italy involving the Prowler and the people in the cable car?
A: Well, we have only preliminary information right now and that is that the Prowler obviously came into contact with a cable. The pilot was unaware at the time that he had struck anything other than perhaps a bird or some other object - - did not realize that he had come into contact with any cables until returning to his base at Aviano. My understanding is that there are at least twenty people who have been killed in this particular incident, and we want to express to the Italian people and the Italian government our deepest sympathies and regrets over this unfortunate accident. I intend to try to call the Italian Minister of Defense this evening as soon as I finish the next briefing and express my regrets and indicate that we are going to be working as closely as possible with the Italian authorities to get to the bottom of the factual situation as to how this could have occurred.
Q: Would this be unusual for an exercise for a plane to be flying so low?
A: I really don't have a basis to make a judgment on that. We are going to have to wait and find out exactly how this came about; we don't have enough information for me to make any kind of a positive statement.
Press: Thank you.