TWA crash was caused by faulty electrics, US decides

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The US Government yesterday ruled out the possibility that TWA flight 800 had been brought down by a missile or a bomb, in an attempt finally to end the conspiracy theories surrounding the disaster which killed 230 people.

The US Government yesterday ruled out the possibility that TWA flight 800 had been brought down by a missile or a bomb, in an attempt finally to end the conspiracy theories surrounding the disaster which killed 230 people.

The cause of the accident was an electrical fault which sparked an explosion in a fuel tank, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said, after the largest and costliest transportation accident investigation in history.

The Boeing 747 was on its way from New York to Paris when it crashed in 1996, 14 minutes after take-off off.

Bernard Loeb, the director of the NTSB's office of aviation safety, said: "Although the voltage in the fuel quantity indication system wiring is limited by design to a very low level, a short circuit from higher-voltage wires could allow excessive voltage to be transferred to fuel quantity indication system wires and enter the tank ... We cannot be certain that this, in fact, occurred but of all the ignition scenarios we considered, this scenario is the most likely," he added.

There was no evidence of sabotage or deliberate attack, the NTSB said. "Had we found such evidence, we would have immediately referred the matter back to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for their action," he said.

"Let me state unequivocally, the safety board found no such evidence." The conspiracy theories flourish on the internet, however, and doubtless will continue to do so. Some witnesses reported seeing lights streaking up into the sky at the time of the crash.

Jim Hall, the NTSB's chairman, said: "The crash of Flight 800 graphically demonstrates that even in one of the safest transportation systems in the world, things can go horribly wrong." Since the crash, airlines around the world have been asked to make safety modifications to Boeing 747s.

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