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Thu, Jul 04, 2013

NTSB Stands Its Ground On TWA Flight 800 Findings

Says No Evidence Exists For Missile Theory Put Forward By Documentary Producers

The NTSB held a media briefing Tuesday allowing those involved in the original investigation of the July 17th, 1996 accident involving TWA Flight 800, which went down in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from New York, to address issues raised in a documentary on the investigation set for release later this month. The board is standing by its original probable cause report indicating that a fuel tank explosion brought down the aircraft.

The briefing was prompted by the upcoming release later this month of a documentary that features former board investigators and others who posit that one or more errant missiles impacted the airplane, and that the government covered up the incident. They formally petitioned the NTSB to re-open the investigation.

CNN reports that at the Tuesday briefing, NTSB investigator Jim Widley said that he is "totally convinced that there was no bomb or missile."

The briefing was led by investigators who were not involved in creating the original report. They had been told to only address that original report, though they reportedly did address some of the issues brought up by the documentary.

The investigators showed reporters examples of metal damaged by explosions caused by missiles and bombs, and then took the group to the hangar where the re-constructed fuselage of the 747 is housed. They said they found no evidence of the kind of damage associated with a missile strike on the TWA 747.

As to the trace residue of explosives found on the wreckage, the NTSB investigators said that such residue washes off after two days in the ocean, and that the trace amounts were probably the result of contamination from military and law enforcement boats that assisted in the recovery of the wreckage.

Two members of the families of people who were fatally injured in the accident were allowed to attend the briefing. Both said they were satisfied that the original probable cause report was accurate.

The documentary producers were not allowed to attend the briefing, but Hank Huges, a former NTSB investigator featured in the film, spoke to CNN following the event. He said he and others involved in the project remain unconvinced. The documentary is due to be premiered by Epix television on July 17, the 17th anniversary of the accident.

(Images provided by the NTSB.)

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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