More signs of fire found in ValuJet debris

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Oxygen canisters lacked safety caps

May 18, 1996
Web posted at: 5:20 p.m. EDT

DADE COUNTY, Florida (CNN) -- More evidence has been uncovered pointing to the possibility of fire aboard ValuJet Flight 592 before it nose-dived into the Florida Everglades eight days ago, killing all 110 people aboard.


In a news briefing carried live on CNN, National Transportation Safety Board chief investigator Greg Feith said more wreckage, including pieces of two oxygen canisters, showed evidence of fire damage. (205K AIFF or WAV sound)

The DC-9's cockpit voice recorder remained missing, although a ground-penetrating radar-like device was being used in an attempt to locate it.

Meanwhile, a search of a muddy crater believed to hold large chunks of wreckage was delayed until Tuesday because of logistical problems.

Safety caps missing

Through interviews, investigators have determined that about 136 canisters were being transported in cardboard boxes in the plane's cargo hold.

"They did not have a plastic safety cap on their firing mechanism," Feith said. Fifteen of the canisters had been emptied "either through removal or other means," but he said it was not yet clear if any canisters contributed to a fire.

impact spot

The "end caps" of the two oxygen generators were found embedded in a tire believed to have been loaded in the cargo hold. The end cap on a cylindrical oxygen generator is on the opposite side from the firing mechanism.

The tire also showed evidence of fire damage, Feith said. It's believed that boxes containing the oxygen canisters were stored on top of three tires in the cargo hold. Other pieces of wreckage showed evidence of soot or other fire damage.

Search of key site delayed

Feith said it would be Tuesday morning before divers fitted with protective biohazard suits would be able to enter the swampy crater contaminated with jet fuel and decomposing human remains. (183K AIFF or WAV sound)

The divers, who originally planned to have the protective suits on Saturday, have asked for a more stable platform to dive from than the air boats being used.

Feith also said personal items belonging to the flight crew had been recovered from the cockpit, including "a flight case or flight book" bearing the name of Capt. Candalyn Kubeck.

Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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