NTSB inventories scorched and sooted pieces of plane
May 15, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EDT
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The National Transportation Safety Board offered a look at some of the debris search teams have pulled out of the mire since Saturday's ValuJet crash. Several items showed signs of soot damage, indicating there may have been a fire on board.
Among the items found, NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Francis said, were:
- Two life preservers, one still in its plastic cover. The one that was still wrapped had soot on it, but showed no obvious signs of melting or heat damage.
- An oxygen bottle in the cockpit had soot on it.
- The cabin side of a door between the pilots and the cabin had soot on it.
- A piece of the ceiling liner, near one of the first baggage bins in the first-class section, was found with soot on it. A circuit breaker panel near the ceiling liner was also scorched and sooted.
- Some floor beams whose exact location in the plane are not yet known. There is a distinct separation between the sooted and scorched area on the beams and the totally untouched area, Francis said.
Hazmat team, explosives experts on the job
Francis said Tuesday it was possible there was an explosion on the plane, and said Wednesday he would not retract that statement. However, he said, "up to now the non-experts who have been working on this would not conclude that there had been an explosion."
ValuJet Flight 592 was carrying 50 to 60 oxygen generators in its cargo bay, probably near the front of the bay, Francis said. ValuJet was not certified to carry these generators as cargo because they were classified as hazardous materials.
Since the NTSB learned that oxygen generators were on Flight 592, the agency has decided to add a hazardous materials team to the investigation. That group will begin its work Thursday, as will a new fire and explosives team.
Search efforts continued at a slow pace Wednesday. Francis said that teams of paired airboats were going through the Everglades crash site and groping through the muck a handful at a time, looking for pieces of the airplane. "It shows how extraordinarily fortunate we have been to find the cockpit and all of the evidence that is coming up from it," Francis said.
Families of the crash victims visited the crash site earlier in the day, and left wreaths and mementos at a location near the site.
Another witness to the crash
CNN has learned of the existence of another 911 call to Metro Dade Emergency. A man who was fishing in the Everglades, who also happens to be a pilot, witnessed the crash and was able to give an emergency operator its coordinates.
"I heard the impact and I saw dirt and mud flying in the air. The plane was sideways before it went out of my sight on the horizon about a mile from me," he told the 911 operator.
The dispatcher had to double-check the coordinates and confirm that the caller's report was not a hoax, because when the dispatcher first checked with the Miami International Airport's air control tower with his coordinates, the tower did not yet have a report of a plane down.
- Complete list of passengers and crew
- Family members hold service for crash victims - May 15, 1996
- Expert: Oxygen generators should be safe cargo - May 15, 1996
- ValuJet not cleared to haul oxygen generators on doomed flight - May 15, 1996
- FAA steps up ValuJet inspections - May 15, 1996
- Investigators recover more parts of the plane that are stained with soot - May 15, 1996
- Church grapples with loss of four members in crash - May 15, 1996
- Poll: Fliers will keep flocking to cheaper skies - May 15, 1996
- DC-9 information
- Federal Aviation Administration
- ValuJet home page
- Miami International Airport
- United States Coast Guard home page
- The US Department of Transportation
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