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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fan Blades May Yield Blast Clue

SMITHTOWN, New York -- A badly mangled engine with fan blades that were sheared off or missing entirely was brought ashore, possibly providing crucial evidence in the explosion that destroyed TWA Flight 800.


U.S. Navy Lieutenant Nicholas Balice confirmed that the wreckage brought in from the Atlantic was the jet's fourth engine, which he earlier had described as a top priority. Other wreckage recovered Thursday included two large sections of fuselage and a 7-meter section of the plane's tail, authorities said.


About three-fourths of the engine's fan blades were gone; jagged remnants of the others remained. The severe damage could be either the result of an explosion or the crash impact.


Investigators will compare this engine, which is from the outer right wing, to the one that was next to it. If the damage is similar, both could have been hit by flying debris from the disintegrating forward section.


Similarly, all four engines will be compared with each other. Investigators will try to determine whether the engines were running when they hit the water and whether they were damaged simultaneously or in different ways.


Earlier Thursday, the month-long sea-bottom search passed a grim milestone with the recovery of the 200th and 201st bodies. Twenty-nine victims are still missing.


At least one of the bodies was recovered by scuba teams that conducted 47 dives in search of debris and bodies.


Suffolk County Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Wetli said all but one of the recovered bodies have been identified, though only 197 names have been released.


The 200th identified body was that of Carol Fry, a former school board member from Mountoursville, Pennsylvania, the town that lost 16 children and five adults when the plane blew up off Long Island on July 17.