BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Taipei
"The typhoon is now the worst to hit Taiwan in 30 years"
 real 56k

Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 09:46 GMT
International effort to find crash cause
Investigators at crash scene
Investigators have recovered two flight recorders
Air accident investigators from Singapore and the US are joining Taiwanese officials on Thursday to search for the causes of the Singapore Airlines crash in Taiwan which killed 81 people.

Relatives of the dead have begun to identify victims
The Boeing 747 crashed with 179 people on board as it took off for Los Angeles in a fierce storm on Tuesday.

Investigators have begun to examine the black box flight recorders which were recovered from the wreckage.

They are also looking at tapes of the pilot's communications with the control tower.

I don't think the pilot had one inch of visibility, but we were told they've flown in such weather before

Massoud Debier, crash survivor
One theory is that the plane hit an object on the runway. Another is that the pilot saw an object on the runway and tried to take off early to avoid it.

The storm, Typhoon Xangsane, could also have contributed to the crash.

Singapore Airlines has dismissed speculation the aircraft was on the wrong runway at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek airport.


Rescue workers pulled the last bodies from the wreckage on Wednesday morning, after 12 hours struggling against high winds and rain.

Sixteen people escaped injury, and more than 80 were taken to hospital, some with severe burns.

Two of the injured have since died, pushing the death toll up to 81.

Emergency telephone number for relatives and friends of Flight SQ006 passengers
In the US: 1-800-828-0508
Outside the US: ++1-323-934-8833 ext 409
In Singapore: (65) 542-3311
In the UK: 020-8563-6767
Scores of grieving relatives have arived in Taipei. Another 55 family members are scheduled to fly in from Los Angeles on Friday.

Coffins containing the remains of their loved ones are lined up in a makeshift morgue at the airport.

Around 22 bodies had been identified by noon on Thursday using methods including DNA testing.

Two Britons survived and another two, Jennifer Loo and Margaret Blanche Rabley, are feared dead.

Wheel found

The 48-year-old Malaysian pilot, Foong Chee Kong, who survived the crash, has said he saw something on the runway and hit it just before take off.

Singapore Airlines spokesman Rick Clements said: "He tried to take off to avoid the object, and he hit it.

"It might have been a vehicle, it might have been a tyre, I don't know."

Investigators were reported to have found a wheel at the scene that did not belong to the Singapore Airlines plane.

Taiwan television TVBS speculated that the wrong runway had been used, showing footage of a heavy hydraulic mechanical shovel and cement blocks littering a runway which had been closed for repairs.

Chiang Kai-shek airport has two parallel runways, with a third used occasionally as a back-up.

But Mr Clements said: "The runway that the aircraft was cleared to depart from was actually a well-lit runway whereas the other runway was not lit so an experienced pilot should not have made the mistake of using the wrong runway."

Mr Foong had flown to Taipei several times during October and was familiar with the airport, he added.

Airline officials said the weather conditions were unlikely to have been the cause of the crash.

Singapore Airlines has an excellent reputation for safety. Its long-haul flights have never crashed, although a short-haul subsidiary - SilkAir - did crash over Indonesia in 1997, killing 104 people.

This is the first major air disaster in Taiwan since 1998, when 202 people were killed in a China Airlines Airbus A300 crash.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

02 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: The aftermath of disaster
01 Nov 00 | Americas
Counselling offer at LA airport
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories