The Scene at Sharm el-Sheik

A group related to al Qaeda claims responsibility for bombings at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Many of the dead are tourists. More than 80 lives were lost. Reporter Lindsey Wise describes the scene to Scott Simon.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

The worst terrorist attack ever on Egyptian soil has killed at least 88 people. A series of explosions struck the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Reporter Lindsay Wise is there along the Red Sea and she joins us now.

Lindsay, thanks very much for being with us.

LINDSAY WISE reporting:

Thank you very much.

SIMON: What can you see?

WISE: As I'm standing here, actually I'm at the third blast site where apparently it looks like from eyewitness reports that it might have been a suicide bomber who detonated himself before he reached the destination, although that's still not clear or verified by the authorities. And what I'm looking at right now is a scene that is very much cleared up from what it looked like this morning and last night. There are still blood stains on the asphalt. A nearby cab has some blood stains on it. But in a corner, they've swept most of the debris into a corner and there's a group of Egyptian officials and inspectors standing over there. They recently wrapped up a, so it looks like, pair of shoes in a towel and put it a bag supposedly for evidence, but clearly the investigation is going forward, although it seems that they have been very quick to clean up these areas, almost so quick it's hard to imagine how a thorough investigation could have been done.

SIMON: We are using the number 83 in applying the coda so that that number can rise. Do officials indicate to you that there still might be people trapped in the wreckage who are below the wreckage?

WISE: It didn't look to me as though the wreckage particularly at one of the hotels which was really devastate would necessarily have victims still there. I didn't see rescue crews working there when I was there about a half an hour ago. In fact, they were cleaning up there as well and building a wall to block the scene from passing traffic and the tourists. I also think that it sounds like over 200 people were wounded and I imagine many of these wounds from eyewitness accounts were very grievous and it seems as though there probably will be more fatalities now. It's unfortunate.

SIMON: What do some of the eyewitnesses say as to what they saw, what they felt, what they heard?

WISE: One particular eyewitness who reached this scene that I'm standing at right now, seconds after it happened, compared it to a battle scene, that the man had served in the British military. He said Belfast is one of the words that he mentioned after a conflict there, and he said that bodies were everywhere and body parts unfortunately. Bodies weren't even complete. Some people who had lost limbs were so shocked they didn't even realize what had happened. One man he described as having lost both his legs kept trying to get up. So it was really a horrible scene and this is a tourist resort that attracts holiday makers from all over Europe especially but also from Egypt. And many people are describing a nightmare really.

SIMON: Did people hear a car pull up, for example? Any kind of significant sound that would indicate the source or path of what happened?

WISE: It seems that there were three different bombing sites and that there were three distinct explosion sounds. You know, one or two of them may have been car bombs. One of the sites I was at, it was clear that there was a crater in the ground where this bomb had exploded. It exploded with such force, it left a crater and all the cars around it had been destroyed and the glass blown out for blocks. That was at the market site where the first bomb went off. So that I've heard it was a car loaded with explosives. The second site at the hotel which was completely devastated and destroyed, the roof blown off, the rooms blown in, I mean, hardly even a stick of furniture left, eyewitnesses there tell me that when they got there, they couldn't even find anyone alive, just charred bodies. There, it seems as though there might have been a car, that reports say that a car actually pulled or drove straight through the front of the hotel and exploded with great force. At this site that I'm at right now...

SIMON: Yes.

WISE: ...again eyewitnesses have described what they think might have been a suicide bomber...

SIMON: Lindsay Wise...

WISE: ...individual rather than in a car.

SIMON: ...in Sharm el-Sheikh, thank you.

WISE: Thank you.

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