New blaze theory over TWA crash

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The Independent Online
Investigators trying to find the cause of the explosion aboard TWA Flight 800 are checking to see whether an electrical charge could have ignited fuel fumes, according to a federal air safety official.

The theory being pursued is that a strong electrical charge jumped from the high-voltage wire to a low-voltage wire with which it was bundled, Shelly Hazle, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said yesterday.

The low-voltage wire could have then carried the charge into a fuel probe in the aircraft's nearly empty centre fuel tank and ignited fuel or vapours.

Ms Hazle added that the theory is not the only one being pursued. "We are not focusing on any one thing yet," she said. "We still have several scenarios we are looking at."

The crash of the Paris-bound 747 off Long Island, New York, in July 1996 killed all 230 people aboard. Investigators have said there is no evidence the jet was brought down by a bomb or missile, but they are not willing to rule out any possible cause, including mechanical failure. -- AP