Crash investigators search debris field of Libyan plane for clues to cause of disasterBy AP
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Crash investigators search for clues in Libya
TRIPOLI, Libya — Dutch and American crash investigators helped search for clues Sunday in the debris field of the airliner that slammed into the desert short of an airport runway in Libya’s capital last week.
Libyan authorities, meanwhile, determined that one of those found dead among the shattered wreckage was not a passenger but a Libyan airport worker who responded to the scene and died of a heart attack. The new information, however, did not alter the official casualty count from Wednesday’s crash.
All but one of the 104 people on board the flight from South Africa to the Libyan capital died. The sole survivor, 9-year-old Ruben van Assouw of the Netherlands, returned home Saturday without his parents and 11-year-old brother, who perished in the disaster.
Most of those on board the Afriqiyah Airways jetliner were Dutch tourists.
Lead Dutch investigator Daan Noort said Sunday that the difficult work of identifying bodies has started after relatives supplied DNA samples and other information to aid the process. He said the crash left some of the victims’ bodies in pieces.
“Some are whole bodies. Some are just parts,” Noort said.
Abdul-Rahman al-Amin, the airport worker who responded to the crash and collapsed amid the wreckage, was diabetic and had high blood pressure, said his cousin Abdul-Razzaq Bu Abdullah. He was taken to a hospital but could not be revived.
Experts from France and South Africa also helping to determine the cause of the crash.
The U.S. team includes officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, technical advisers from the Federal Aviation Administration and representatives of U.S. manufacturer General Electric, which made the plane’s engines.
The plane’s black boxes — the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder — were recovered intact and have been sent to Paris for review.
Naji Dhou, the head of the Libyan committee investigating the crash, told reporters Saturday that preliminary results indicate the plane had diverted about 4 degrees from the runway and landed about 400 yards in front of it.
He said debris from the crash was scattered over a more than 8,000-square-foot (800-square-meter) area, but investigators had only covered a small fraction of that so far.
He said there was no explosion until the plane hit the ground. Libya has ruled out terrorism as a possible cause of the crash, although the investigation is still under way.
Associated Press writer Khaled al-Deeb contributed to this report.
Tags: Accidents, Africa, Europe, Libya, Netherlands, North Africa, Transportation, Tripoli, Western Europe