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Divers Bring Up Two Pieces of Center Fuel Tank

September 10, 1996

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (AP) _ Investigators reassembling the doomed TWA jumbo jet have added two pieces of the crucial center fuel tank, newly recovered by divers who have resumed an around-the-clock search for wreckage.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the explosion of the fuel tank was the original explosion that caused the Boeing 747 to crash or a secondary explosion set off by a bomb or a missile.

``These pieces are obviously of interest to us,″ Shelly Hazle, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said Monday. ``They are part of the area that we are focusing on.″

A source familiar with the investigation, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said investigators will look more closely this week at the pieces retrieved on Monday.

But the source added that an ``initial inspection of the pieces appears that there is nothing of interest.″

About 60 percent of the fuel tank has been recovered and is being reassembled on scaffolding at a former Grumman hangar in Calverton.

The search resumed Sunday after being stalled last week by the effects of hurricanes Edouard and Fran. Workers were trying Monday to raise the scaffolding to get a better look at the fuel tank’s underside, Hazle said.

She said one of the fuel tank pieces found Monday was quite large, but she did not know its exact dimensions.

The explosion on July 17 killed all 230 aboard the Paris-bound jet, which blew apart 10 miles off Long Island. About 30 percent of the plane is still believed to be resting on the ocean floor.

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