Investigators of TWA Flight 800 lean toward theory of mechanical failure
October 18, 1996
CALVERTON, New York (CNN) -- Investigators in the explosion of TWA Flight 800 have reconstructed most of the plane's center fuel tank and have found no evidence to suggest the plane was brought down by a bomb or missile, officials close to the investigation told CNN.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators are now leaning more than ever toward the theory that the plane exploded from some sort of mechanical failure.
None of the metallurgical tests conducted so far on metalic debris recovered from TWA Flight 800 shows any indication the plane could have been brought down by a bomb or a missile, according to officials from the National Transportation Safety Board.
But the officials stressed their findings still are not conclusive and that wreckage yet to be raised from the ocean floor could reveal key evidence of a bomb or missile attack.
Investigators have focused on the center fuel tank as a possible cause of the explosion that killed all 230 people aboard the plane shortly after it took off from New York on July 17.
More than 90 percent of the plane has been recovered and is being reassembled in a hangar in Calverton, Long Island. Experts who have inspected the fuel tank debris at the Calverton warehouse have found no evidence of a bomb blast, NTSB investigators told CNN.
A leading FBI theory has suggested a bomb could have been planted in the passenger cabin directly above the fuel tank.
The NTSB has said a leak may have created static electricity in the nearly empty center fuel tank, causing the explosion.
But engineers from Boeing Co., manufacturer of the downed plane, earlier this week said the center fuel tank of a Boeing 747 is designed in such a way that an electrical spark could not set off an explosion like the one aboard TWA Flight 800.
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