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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Key Jet Explosion Clues Still Rest on Ocean Floor

EAST MORICHES, New York -- A week after TWA Flight 800 exploded in midair and plunged into the waters off Long Island, investigators concede they still are missing crucial evidence needed to determine what -- or who -- brought it down.


As investigators and victims' families expressed frustration about the speed of the search and contradictory information, crews used video cameras and sonar in a round-the-clock scan of the submerged wreckage, where dozens of bodies may be trapped and clues to the cause of the crash are hidden.


Only 108 bodies have been lifted from the sea, leaving 122 victims still missing. Only about 1 percent of the Paris-bound plane has been recovered, and the crucial voice and data recorders, the plane's so-called black boxes, have not been found.


The jet exploded over the Atlantic shortly after takeoff from New York on Wednesday.


But ABC television reported, without citing a source, that it appears Flight 800 was at 4,200 meters when something catastrophic happened and it plunged to 2,700 meters. It stabilized there for as long as 30 seconds, then exploded into a fireball, the report said.


Federal officials acknowledge that nothing found so far -- neither wreckage nor bodies -- showed traces of explosives. They continued to consider the possibilities that the plane was destroyed by a bomb secreted on board, a missile or catastrophic mechanical failure.


"We are waiting to have that evidence that says, 'Hey, this is a blast,'" said James Kallstrom, the FBI agent in charge of the probe. "Here's the evidence, here's the tracings, here's the chemicals, here's the perforations. Until we have all that stuff and it's discussed and it looks definitive, then we will make that statement and the investigation will get a lot more aggressive."


He said there was "circumstantial evidence" pointing toward a bomb or a missile.