BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 23 --
Forty-three United States Marines and 15 French soldiers were
killed today in dawn explosions that razed two buildings used by the
multinational peace force in Beirut, the state-run Beirut radio said.
Three civilians also died in the rubble of the Marines' battalion
landing team's headquarters building, effectively their main
headquarters near the Beirut International Airport.
First reports said the blasts were caused by car bombs set off by
remote control, though the extent of the damage suggested the
explosives were placed inside the buildings.
(United Press International quoted a Marine spokesman, Maj. Robert
Jordan, as saying, "A truck full of explosives crashed through
the gates and into the Marine battalion headquarters building.")
Bodies of 15 Frenchmen Found
A spokesman for the Lebanese Civilian Defense said rescue workers
had recovered the bodies of all 15 French soldiers from a four-story
building used by their contingent to the multinational force.
(U. P. I. reported that one French officer said as many as 100
French soldiers may have been "wiped out.")
Randall Palmer, a Reuters correspondent, who got to within sight of
the building used by the United States force, said the five- or
six-story structure had collapsed into one story. Slabs of concrete
were folded down over the edges.
Troops Seal Off Area
Many marines slept in the building, and it was not immediately
clear whether the casualty toll could still rise.
United States troops sealed off the area, but Mr. Palmer could see
bulldozers at work clearing the rubble.
The ceiling of a nearby building used by United Nations troops
collapsed from the force of the blast, but there were no casualties,
military sources said.
U.S. Confirms Blasts
As of 3:15 this morning, Brian Carlson, a State Department
spokesman, confirmed that "there were two explosions, one of
which affected a building near the marines, or perhaps was the Marine
headquarters." He said he did not know how many Americans had
A Defense Department spokesman, Lieut. Col. Thomas Jones, also
confirmed the two explosions, one in the Marine area and one in the
French area, but said the department did not yet know the extent of
the damage or casualties.
A White House spokesman, Sheila Dixon, said that President Reagan
was awakened at 2:27 A.M. and told of the bombings by his national
security adviser, Robert C. McFarlane. The spokesman said the White
House was monitoring the situation.