Search is over for ValuJet wreckage and remains


Fire likely caused the fatal crash

June 10, 1996
Web posted at: 6:50 p.m. EDT

MIAMI (CNN) -- Nearly one month after the crash of ValuJet Flight 592, investigators said Monday they believe the crash was caused by "an intense in-flight fire" (166K AIFF or WAV sound) and that the search for wreckage was being called off.


"We will be moving from the salvage recovery phase of the investigation to the wreckage analysis and reconstruction phase," said Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. He made the announcement at a news conference in Miami.

Crews have recovered almost 75 percent of the DC-9 that crashed in the Florida Everglades May 11, killing all 110 aboard. (144K AIFF or WAV sound)


Thirty-six people have been identified from remains found at the scene. Dr. Robert Mittleman, chief medical examiner for Dade County, said he couldn't say whether the victims died of smoke inhalation before the plane's impact in the swamp. None of the remains showed evidence of burns, he said.

Crash investigators did not say what they thought might have caused the fire, noting that their probe would continue for perhaps another six to nine months. However, NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Francis said there was no evidence so far linking the fire to the plane's electrical system.

Fire in cargo area

Francis said the focus was "more on the cargo area where we have found considerable evidence of fire." More than 100 oxygen-generating canisters were stored in that part of the plane. Investigators are trying to determine if the canisters contributed to the fire.

Early in the news conference, Hall requested a moment of silence for the crash victims. He also praised the search teams who worked under "extremely grueling circumstances" at the crash site. (231K AIFF or WAV sound)

Site closed to the public

Florida environmental officials said the crash site will be closed to the public for 90 days while they study the crash's effects on the ecosystem and fragile wildlife. The location will be under 24-hour surveillance to keep unauthorized people away.

A task force will decide later what will be done at the crash scene. One possibility under consideration is the construction of a memorial to the victims.

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