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Crashed Israel Jet Hauled Chemicals

October 1, 1998

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ An Israeli cargo jet that crashed in Amsterdam six years ago was carrying chemicals used to produce the deadly sarin nerve gas, a Dutch newspaper reported Wednesday.

The El Al plane was carrying 50 gallons of the chemical identified as dimethyl methylphosphonate when it crashed into an apartment block outside Amsterdam in 1992, according to the respected national daily NRC Handelsblad.

Citing a freight document, the newspaper said the chemical came from an American company in Pennsylvania and was headed for the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona near Tel Aviv.

The U.S. company was identified as Solkatronic Chemicals Inc., which was bought this year by Air Products and Chemicals Inc., of Allentown, Pa.

Steve Morth, a company spokesman, confirmed Solkatronic sold 480 pounds of the chemical to the Israeli government. Morth said the Israelis claimed the chemical would be used to test absorption filters.

A copy of the freight document was printed on the front page of the Dutch newspaper, which did not say how it acquired the papers.

El Al spokesman Nahman Klieman said the cargo manifests were turned over to Dutch authorites immediately after the accident. He also said that El Al flies all cargo materials in accordance with international regulations.

However, Klieman would not comment when asked whether chemicals used for making the nerve gas sarin were aboard the plane when it crashed over Amsterdam six years ago.

Nearly six years after the accident, controversies still surround the plane’s cargo, despite repeated investigations.

Ahead of the report, the Dutch parliament announced it will launch a parliamentary inquiry into the accident.

According to NRC, the amount of dimethyl methylphosphonate on board was enough to produce up to 594 pounds of the nerve gas.

The raw material also is used in building materials as a flame retardant.

Four main components are needed for the production of sarin and three of them were on board the El Al jet, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said it was not clear whether the burning of these chemicals following the accident was to blame for health complaints by residents near the crash site.

The Boeing 747-200 crashed into an apartment complex in southern Amsterdam on Oct. 4, 1992, killing 43 people. Israeli officials said earlier the plane did not carry any dangerous materials.

A spokesman for the Dutch Transport Ministry declined comment on the report, saying all the details were announced previously.

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