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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 22:26 GMT
Hunt for NYC crash clues continues
Officials sift through the debris at the scene of the crash
Investigators have not yet ruled anything out
Investigators are still puzzling over what caused Monday's deadly New York plane crash, after an examination of the cockpit's voice recorder failed to produce conclusive answers.

Final moments of Flight 587
107 seconds after take-off begins: Rattling noise heard by pilots
114 seconds: Captain reports "wake encounter"
121 seconds: Second airframe rattling sound
127 seconds: Control of the plane is lost
144 seconds: Recording ends as plane crashes
Officials from the US National Transportation Safety Board say that vital information from the damaged flight data recorder, which monitors instruments and engine performance, is recoverable and is being analysed.

Flight 587 came down in the Queens area of the city, killing all 260 people on board the aircraft and about five people on the ground.

George Black of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told reporters that there was no evidence pointing towards sabotage or terrorist activity but added that nothing was being ruled out.

They are trying to establish why the plane lost two of its engines, as well as its tail, in mid-air.

Click here for a map of the crash site

"We've thought back with our collective memories and haven't thought of anything like this," said Mr Black.

"Rattling sounds"

An analysis of the "good quality" recording of the cockpit's voice recorder revealed that there were problems on Flight 587 less than two minutes after take-off.

Mr Black said that "airframe rattling noise" had been heard in the cockpit on two occasions in the two minutes 24 seconds between take-off and the end of the tape.

He said that between the two rattling sounds, the captain was heard to say the plane was in the wake of another aircraft ahead of it.

A makeshift memorial to the crash victims
Most of the victims were Dominican nationals
Mr Black said the other plane was a Japan Airlines Boeing 747, which took off within the normal time span between departures.

Seconds before the recording stopped, the co-pilot was heard to ask for maximum power amid comments which suggested the crew were losing control of the aircraft.

Investigators have been looking very closely at the two General Electric engines which landed just four blocks apart and away from the rest of the plane's wreckage, and the plane's tail fin, which fell about one kilometre from the main crash site.

It is hoped that information from the flight recorder will determine whether the cause of the disaster was mechanical failure - as preliminary results have indicated - rather than a terrorist attack.

Safety warning

As the investigation continued, it emerged that US aviation officials had issued a safety notice a month ago for the type of engine that powered the Airbus A300.

One of the plane's engines
The engines landed away from the main crash site
In its warning, the Federal Aviation Authority called for more frequent inspections because it said an "unsafe condition" had been identified in the engine, but the order had not come into force by the time of the crash.

Flight 587 was bound for the Dominican Republic when it lost an engine and nosedived into the Rockaway Beach residential area, four minutes after taking off from John F Kennedy airport at 0913 local time (1413 GMT).

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said more than 260 bodies had been recovered and authorities were trying to identify victims through DNA.

The crash has shocked New Yorkers, who are still trying to recover from the 11 September terror attacks.

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kim Barnes
"The discovery of the second black box could provide clues"
Residents of Queens
recall the moment flight 587 crashed

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14 Nov 01 | Americas
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