Thursday, September 3, 1998 Published at 21:25 GMT 22:25 UK
Investigations begin into Canada air crash
Canadian police sort recovered debris from the Swissair crash
Investigations have begun into the crash of a Swiss plane off Canada's eastern coast, with the loss of all 229 people aboard.
The plane was en route from New York's John F Kennedy Airport to Geneva when it plunged into the water as the pilot tried to make a nightime, emergency landing after reporting smoke in the cockpit.
SwissAir chief Jeffrey Katz and a team of Swiss experts arrived in Canada on Thursday to assist in the investigation and talk to the victims' families.
Jeffery Katz said his priorities were to get as much fist-hand information as possible about the accident and to assist efforts to ease the burden on relatives.
Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturer Boeing, who took over McDonnell Douglas late last year, announced it would also send a team including a pilot and engineers to assist authorities investigating the crash.
Rescue efforts hampered
They say there is no indication that the crash was caused by a criminal act, but, at the moment, they're not ruling out any possible cause.
Should a criminal cause be ruled out, the investigation process could be speeded up because criminal rules of evidence will not dictate how material is collected and processed.
Rescue efforts, involving local fishermen, ships and helicopters were hampered by the rocky coastline and rough waters but a number of bodies have been recovered.
Hundreds of volunteers from across this rural part of Canada descended on the crash scene to offer their help.
Relatives of the dead who went to the airports in Geneva and New York were offered counselling.
The United Nations says a number of its officials were on board. One of the prominent victims was a high-ranking former head of the World Health Organisation's Aids programme, Jonathan Mann, and his wife.
Smoke in the cockpit
He reported smoke in the cockpit, before losing radio contact with air traffic controllers.
The plane disappeared off the radar screen at about 0230 BST on Thursday, approximately one hour after take-off. It reportedly dumped tons of fuel along the shoreline before crashing.
"This is a difficult day for us all and for our country," he said.
Swissair has one of the world's best safety records, and the crash is the first disaster to hit it since October 1979 when a DC-8 carrying 142 people crashed into a fence while landing at Athens airport, killing 14 people.