ValuJet searchers face stormy weather


May 20, 1996
Web posted at: 5:05 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Susan Candiotti

DADE COUNTY, Florida (CNN) -- Search operations in the ValuJet crash were suspended for a short time Monday when storm clouds rolled in and lightning was spotted.

diving suit

Divers wearing full-body rubber suits to protect them against jet fuel and decaying bodies were expected to enter the crater Tuesday in the Florida Everglades where Flight 592 nose-dived May 11, killing all 110 aboard.

The divers were waiting for a platform to be erected from which they could dive and place objects they find. Searchers, who will go under water in five-member teams, made practice dives on Monday.

Fearing the rubber suits and hot weather could cause heat exhaustion, rescuers only will be allowed to stay below the surface for about 15 minutes at a time, CNN's Susan Candiotti (162K AIFF or WAV sound) said.

Monday's Miami forecast called for thunderstorms and a high temperature of 87 degrees. The search will be stopped any time the weather poses a danger, Metro Dade Police Detective Michael McDonald said. (162K AIFF or WAV sound)


Alligator captured

As the biohazard diving suits were being tested Sunday in an Everglades canal, authorities captured an alligator swimming nearby. The animal wasn't near the crash site. Wildlife experts said they don't expect alligators to pose a problem.

("The crash site) is filled with jet fuel, and alligators want to stay away from that. In addition, they don't like to be around people," Candiotti reported. The alligator was taken to another part of the Everglades and released.

Canisters mislabeled

ValuJet officials released a statement Sunday saying oxygen cannisters suspected of playing a role in the crash were not marked hazardous materials and were loaded on board without suspicion.

"ValuJet had every reason to believe, based on the shipping ticket it was presented, that the cargo aboard Flight 592 was not hazardous material," the airline said in its statement.

The ticket, according to the airline, read: "5 boxes, oxy cannisters 'Empty.'"

The boxes were being shipped by SabreTech, a Phoenix, Arizona-based company whose Miami facility was replacing oxygen generators on certain ValuJet aircraft, according to a statement by a ValuJet employee provided to CNN by the company.

"ValuJet would not have accepted the shipment had it been accurately labeled as hazardous material by the shipper," the company said.

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