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2 Witnesses Doubt Flight 800 Probe

July 17, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ On the fourth anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 800, two witnesses criticized investigators Monday for doing too little to determine the source of a light they say they saw in the sky near the doomed plane.

They speculated the light might have been a missile.

Investigators of the wreckage have found no evidence that a missile struck the plane, National Transportation and Safety Board spokesman Paul Schlamm told The Associated Press. The board, expected to pronounce its findings next month, has focused on mechanical malfunction in the Boeing 747′s center fuel tanks as the cause of the explosion that brought it down.

All 230 people on board were killed in the July 17, 1996, crash.

Dwight Brumley, who watched as a passenger on another flight 5,000 feet above Flight 800, said he told his story to the FBI but felt it wasn’t taken seriously.

``I could not positively say that what I saw was a missile. What I saw was a very bright flame of light moving parallel to my aircraft,″ Brumley said at a news conference.

Tom Stalcup, chairman of a group called the Flight 800 Independent Researchers, said 260 eyewitnesses told the FBI that they saw a light in the sky before the crash. Of them, 96 said they saw it originate from the surface.

Federal investigators recently test-fired missiles under similar conditions in Pensacola, Fla., to determine just what witnesses might have been able to see the night of the crash. Schlamm said board staff members stressed that the tests should be seen as ``dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s,″ not as an indication of new findings.

The NTSB is expected to reveal the results of the missile test and other tests when it meets August 22-23.

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