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Officials Think Plane Exploded In Center

Tue., Aug. 13, 1996

As they sift through puzzling and often contradictory evidence, federal investigators looking into the crash of TWA Flight 800 said Monday that they believe the explosion that broke the plane in two occurred where the right wing connects to the fuselage.

The clearest evidence that an explosion originated there is the “bulging and bending” of the fuselage and the steel structure in the middle section of the plane, said sources knowledgeable about the investigation.

But pinpointing the location of the explosion still does not explain how it occurred, and three theories about what caused the crash - a bomb, a missile or catastrophic mechanical failure - remain viable, investigators say.

After three weeks of a frustrating and perplexing investigation that has yet to produce any forensic evidence that establishes investigators’ belief that a bomb took down the plane, FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom said: “The plane just isn’t speaking to us about what caused the explosion.”

Locating the blast near the right wing contradicts an earlier theory that the explosion emanated from the front cargo section of the Boeing 747. On Sunday, investigators found all four containers in the front cargo hold roughly intact, ruling out the idea of a bomb placed in a piece of luggage that was stored there.

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