Roanoke Times Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: TUESDAY, February 26, 1991 TAG: 9102260333 SECTION: NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL PAGE: A-1 EDITION: METRO SOURCE: Associated Press DATELINE: DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA LENGTH: Medium
Baghdad radio hailed the attack, saying the missile struck "the coward traitors who mortgage the sacred places of the nation . . . and turn Arab youth into shields of flesh."
The single missile caused more casualties than Iraq's armies reportedly have inflicted in two days on the battlefield. U.S. military officials say four Americans died and 21 were injured in the first two days of a major ground assault.
Saddam Hussein's troops have hurled dozens of missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia since the Gulf War began Jan. 17, but most have been knocked out by U.S.-supplied Patriot defense missiles.
A U.S. military source said today there was no indication that a Patriot missile had been fired to intercept the Scud. The source, who requested anonymity, did not elaborate.
Early today, the U.S. Central Command issued a statement saying 27 were killed and 98 were wounded. The updated statement, which followed a night of searching for the victims, said all personnel were accounted for.
"It was gory, horrible," said Sgt. Arnel Bona, 23, assigned to crowd control at the blast scene.
After the blast, a chaplain moved among the survivors, consoling them. Some soldiers appeared to be in shock; others embraced each other in anguish. Many were in tears.
In the rubble, four pairs of boots poked out from under blankets. Sleeping bags and military unform belts were scattered about on the charred floor. There was little left of the building but its steel girder frame.
"I have to prepare myself for this," said a U.S. soldier walking toward the scene.
Some survivors carried gas masks around their waists, but there was no indication Saddam had made good on his threat to arm a Scud missile with a chemical warhead.
George Manes, Middle East bureau chief for the military newspaper Stars & Stripes, said an air raid siren gave scant warning of the approaching Scud.
Manes, basing his account on military eyewitnesses, wrote that a large piece of the missile that apparently contained the warhead plunged straight down into the barracks, creating an orange fireball on impact.
The barracks was in an industrial area about three miles from the huge military air base at Dhahran. A singed sign at the entrance marked it as the home of the 475th Quartermaster Group, a reserve unit from Farrell, Pa., north of Pittsburgh.
The attack came at about 8:30 p.m., while some of the soldiers were eating dinner and after others had apparently gone to bed or were relaxing. Many survivors were in civilian clothes - some in sweatsuits or gym shorts.