Divers in the TWA Flight 800 recovery effort mined a mother lode of wreckage Saturday, retrieving a huge double-decker chunk of the plane - complete with seats, windows, even a coffeepot.
The 40-by-60-foot piece of airplane - 15 windows long - was brought ashore by barges only hours after several other large, recognizable sections of fuselage were unloaded - one with the red-and-white TWA markings clearly visible.
On Friday, the plane’s sunken cockpit was located; officials expected to spend most of the weekend surveying it in preparation to raise it. Also recovered Friday and Saturday were seven more bodies, bringing the total number of victims recovered to 191.
Although investigators suspect a bomb caused the Paris-bound plane to explode July 17, killing all 230 people aboard, they have yet to come up with conclusive evidence. And they have not completely ruled out the possibility of a mechanical malfunction.
“We have yet to get to the point that we have a critical mass of information to make a determination,” said James Kallstrom, the FBI agent in charge of the probe.
Tests for chemical traces of explosives have so far yielded nothing. But Kallstrom said some fragments of the plane are still being tested for bomb residue by sophisticated equipment in Washington, D.C.
Any debris that could bear chemical traces of a bomb is initially tested by a portable machine in a hangar in Calverton, N.Y., where investigators are reconstructing the aircraft bit by bit. Promising fragments are transported to Washington for more sophisticated tests.