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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Unease over Taiwan crash plane
By Francis Markus

Air crash investigators in Taiwan say a China Airlines jet which broke apart shortly after take-off from Taipei in May last year had fatigue cracks and corrosion near where it was repaired after an earlier accident.

Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council says it is yet to draw final conclusions about the causes of the crash but the findings are bound to highlight concerns about the condition of the plane.

Ship involved in the rescue operation
Some of the bodies and wreckage was not found
Air crash investigators have spent a year trying to probe why the jumbo jet broke apart over the rough waters between Taiwan and Hong Kong, killing all 225 people on board.

Now, in what they call a factual data report, they do not yet come to any conclusions, but they highlight several technical issues, including signs of fatigue cracks and corrosion near where the aircraft was patched up after being damaged in an earlier take-off.

That happened way back in 1980 and it is bound to underline concerns about the condition of the Boeing 747, and anger on the part of relatives who lost their loved ones in the crash.

China Airlines has come under heavy criticism over its safety record in recent years.

Only 175 of the bodies have been recovered and some of the wreckage has yet to be located.

Investigators say they plan to continue analysing their findings and present a final report before the end of next year. But they are saying clearly that there is no evidence of any external force such as a missile and no sign of a fire or explosion aboard the plane.

Air disaster timeline
26 May 03  |  In Depth
Taiwan airliner crashes into sea
25 May 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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