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:

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.

Francis holds up o2 generator

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.

911 Call

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.

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