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Explosion May Have Preceded Crash

Investigators have found several pieces of ValuJet Flight 592 with apparent soot damage, and for the first time authorities said Tuesday that something on the jet might have exploded.

Authorities are investigating whether 50 to 60 oxygen generators and three inflated airplane tires in a front cargo hold might have exploded, said National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Robert Francis.

The crew had reported smoke in the cockpit and cabin shortly before the DC-9 crashed in the Florida Everglades on Saturday, killing all 109 people aboard. He also said families will be allowed to visit the crash site on Wednesday, and he released preliminary information from the flight data recorder.

Unfortunately, the “black box” failed to record the last 50 seconds of the flight for reasons that are unclear, Francis said.

He said a recovered floor beam and “internal material” had what appeared to be soot on them, and the parts were thought to have come from the front of the jet.

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