Monday, 26 December 2016

First clue to Lockerbie crash found

[This is the headline over a report from this date in 1988 on the BBC News website. It reads as follows:]

Crash investigators have uncovered wreckage from Pan Am flight 103 which may hold the key to the Lockerbie air disaster.

A suitcase discovered in the wreckage of the Boeing 747 has been sent for testing at a government research centre amid speculation it may contain evidence the crash was caused by sabotage.

Bomb experts at the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment in Fort Halstead, Kent, will be looking for particles which may have penetrated the suitcase and show evidence of an explosive.

It is being seen as a significant development in the investigation as it is the first piece from the wreckage to be sent for testing.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, which runs the research unit, said: "This is the first wreckage to be sent to us. The police have chosen what they want to be examined."

Results of the study are expected to be available by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, police have announced the search for clues may mean the process of retrieving bodies could take some time.

This is because the bodies may also contain particles which show if a bomb was planted, and could shed light on the investigation.

Michael Charles, who is heading the investigation said it is not known yet if the crash was caused by structural failure or a bomb.

Investigators cannot establish if the plane disintegrated before it came to ground, suggesting a bomb, or if it was destroyed by impact on the ground after severe structural failure led to its descent.

Aviation experts have said they believe the most likely cause is structural failure after an initial inspection of the black box flight recorders did not disclose anything.

Only a split second before radar contact was lost there was a 'faint unquantified noise'.

Rescue teams are continuing their search for bodies and the death toll currently remains at 240.

Divers are searching lochs and reservoirs for one wing of the plane which is still missing.

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