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The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"They're focusing on the grim task of recovering the bodies"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jane Hughes in New York
"There's a palpable chill here at the news of the tragedy"
 real 56k

The BBC's Peter Hunt
"A tranquil setting for such a tragic outcome"
 real 28k

The BBC's James Robbins
"A series of massive explosions"
 real 56k

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"At least one of the engines was on fire before the crash"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Concorde: the hunt for clues
Air France crash site
Investigators will try to make sense of the wreckage
French air investigators are sifting through the remains of the crashed Air France Concorde, which were still smouldering as dawn broke on the day after the tragedy.

The plane plunged into a hotel in Gonesse minutes after taking-off from Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris on Tuesday afternoon, killing 113 people.

The doomed airliner's black box flight recorders have been recovered, giving investigators hope of quickly establishing what caused the catastrophic engine fire which brought the plane down.

Concorde in flames
An amateur photographer caught the doomed plane's final descent

British Airways, which suspended its Concorde flights after the crash, has announced it will resume the service, and had "complete faith" in the aircraft.

The charred remains of the dead - most of them German tourists - are being taken to a makeshift mortuary in a theatre in Gonesse.

Experts will later begin the difficult task of identifying the remains.

Personal possessions which survived the inferno are also being recovered. Clothes, shoes, books and bags have been found strewn around the crash site.

More details have emerged of the plane's final moments.

Several witnesses have said that Concorde's engine was already smoking as it sped along the runway, and burst into flames within seconds.

Praise for pilot

One report said the pilot's final message to the control tower was a calm request to divert to another airport for an emergency landing.

The pilot has been praised by witnesses who believe he appeared to be struggling in the final seconds to steer his blazing plane away from a busy road and a heavily populated area.

The first relatives of the dead who wish to visit the scene are expected to arrive later on Wednesday.


A crisis centre, including psychiatrists and translators, has been set up to provide support for them as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport.

French President Jacques Chirac, who by coincidence was leaving the airport at the time of the crash, will also visit the scene.

German politicians will pay their own tribute on Wednesday, in a hastily-arranged memorial service in Hanover. The entire German cabinet, led by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, was expected to attend the service at 0730GMT.

The 100 dead passengers - including three children - were nearly all Germans from Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hanover and Dusseldorf.

Four other passengers were from Denmark, Austria and the US, according to Air France.

Concorde facts
First plane flew in 1969
13 supersonic jets operated by BA and Air France
Flies above turbulence at almost 60,000 feet
Crosses Atlantic at 1,350mph in less than 3.5 hours
The nine Air France crew also perished, as well as four people on the ground.

Air France Concorde flights remain suspended.

French transport minister Jean-Claude Gayssot said the suspension would remain in force until information from the flight recorders had been studied.

"This may take two or three days," he told French radio. "Obviously if the decryption is not sufficiently clear, I expect a certification process for the engines to be carried out again before flights are resumed."

Firefighters at Hotel Hotelissimo
Parts of the hotel were destroyed by the crash
Mr Gayssot has said three separate investigations into the tragedy will be carried out: one judicial, one technical and a special commission which will run in parallel with the other inquiries.

British Airways said the resumption of its Concorde flights would begin with Wednesday morning's London to New York service.

A statement said there was "no technical, safety or operational" reasons for not operating the service.

Supersonic

"We have complete faith in the aircraft," said a BA spokesman who added that the airline had been in close touch with Air France since yesterday's crash.

Until this crash, the supersonic jet had a perfect safety record throughout its 31-year history.

The passengers on Flight AF4590 were flying with German tour operator Deilmann, en route for a cruise from New York bound for Ecuador and Sydney, Australia.

An emotional Peter Deilmann, who heads the tour company, told German TV he was "deeply shocked" by the disaster.

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See also:

26 Jul 00 | Europe
Engines may hold the answer
26 Jul 00 | Europe
Right place at the wrong time
25 Jul 00 | Europe
Germany stunned by Concorde crash
26 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Black box: Key to investigations
26 Jul 00 | UK
BA Concorde flights resume
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