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Conditions favorable for recovering wreckage

October 31, 1999
Web posted at: 11:59 a.m. EST (1659 GMT)

From Correspondent Bill Delaney

CAPE COD, Massachusetts (CNN) -- A sonar expert told CNN that searchers should be able to quickly find the fuselage of EgyptAir Flight 990, which crashed Sunday in the sea off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, on its way from New York to Cairo, Egypt.

The U.S. Coast Guard has found bodies and debris near the site of the last radar contact with the missing plane. All 217 people aboard the plane are feared dead.

"If you have the weather, you can find the aircraft easily," said sonar expert Arnold Carr. Carr said recover time will depend on whether the plane broke up in midair or hit the water intact.

"Landing intact is a lot easier to find it as far as using side-scan sonar, which is the principal equipment which will be deployed," he said.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Linnon said conditions are good for searchers.

"It's a great to day to search with aircraft because they cover lots of area and do it very quickly," Linnon told CNN. "There are some surface vessels either there or en route that can be used to recover any debris that they find or victims."

Linnon said after looking for crash victims, searchers will focus on finding the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

"The next priority after the victims has got to be the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder," Linnon said. He said both are equipped with devices that would give off a sound when they are submerged in salt-water activated.

Linnon said he expected several more vessels to take part in the search.

He said the debris field could be quite large, similar to the one found after the July 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island.

"The debris field in TWA, which came apart in the air was miles and miles long -- 10 or 12 miles. So it depends on what happened and how it hit the water," Linnon said.

He said the waters where EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed are about twice as deep as those in which TWA Flight 800 went down.

"It's going to be considerably more technically difficult," Linnon said.

Linnon also said the weather may worsen in the few days.

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