This day in history: Oct. 12, 2000

Suicide bombers damage USS Cole in Yemen.
3:31 | 10/05/18

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Transcript for This day in history: Oct. 12, 2000
It was broad daylight today when the USS Cole began to tie off in the port city of Aden in Yemen at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. That Vincent general warnings in the last few days about the possibility of terrorism in the region but they're almost commonplace these days. The small boat with two men in it was apparently not seen as a threat. And tonight we know that five American sailors were killed a dozen are unaccounted for and 36 were wounded. We're gonna start with a ABC's John McWethy who has been following this all day at the Pentagon John. Peter navy officials are saying tonight that this attack was so cleverly engineered that it may have been impossible to prevent not good news for the future. The USS Cole was just pulling into Aden harbor for fuel to ship was only supposed to be there are four or five hours but its sailors had thrown out mooring lines eyewitnesses say one of the small boats that seemed to be routinely hand polling the lines came up next to the ship. The two men in the boat raise their arms as if to salute then it blew ripping a huge hole in the side of the ship forty feet across. The blast punched into the engine room just beneath the mess deck where a dozen sailors were having lunch. The explosion was so powerful that the floor of the mess deck was driven up through the ceiling. The most seriously injured men and women were taken to the small hospital in maiden American medical teams were flown in from buck brain. This is a sad day for America. For the navy and for the families. For the loss and wounded sailors. Intelligence sources tell ABC news that six days ago the US received information that suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden had signaled one of his hit squads to move out. But there were no details on where it was headed. The US issued a very general warning. American officials say they believe yemen's Port Authority or the contractor that provides fuel there had been penetrated. The terrorists knew the ship was coming and were waiting I have no reason to think that this was anything but. A senseless act of terrorism. We will find out who was responsible. And hold them accountable. If their intention was his tar us from our mission of promoting peace and security in the Middle East. They will fail utterly. The size of the blast the precise planning required and the deception of using a harbor boat cause many to immediately suspect Osama bin Laden but others are being considered if. BI has already dispatched local resource list to the scene. And it is sending investigators explosive experts and evidence response team. The US has fifteen ships in the Persian gulf today monitoring sanctions against Iraq. USS Cole away from its home port of Norfolk since June was on its way to the gulf. As a precaution Peter tonight all American warships have been ordered to go to see all American citizens in the Middle East and on the Persian gulf have been warned there could be more trouble. Thanks very much John of the Pentagon and as John knows the navy is still going through the difficult process of contacting the families. Of the Cole's sailors. At the Norfolk naval base in Virginia flags were lowered the press was understandably not allowed. On the base you can imagine how the families are feeling the immediate families of the dead and missing. Have all ready been notified.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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