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TWA Recovery Effort Back to Full Speed for First Time in More Than Week

September 9, 1996

SHINNECOCK, N.Y. (AP) _ Four cargo nets of wreckage from TWA Flight 800 were brought to shore as the recovery effort returned to full speed for the first time in more than a week.

``It was a good day,″ Navy spokesman Lt. Nicholas Balice said after divers and a giant undercover robot recovered more pieces of the downed jet on Sunday. ``We’re back in full operation.″

Stormy seas stirred up by back-to-back hurricanes calmed three days earlier than expected, allowing the search to resume.

Scuba divers wearing oxygen tanks and Navy divers who receive oxygen from the surface worked in a 400-square-yard area of wreckage where most of the Boeing 747 landed after exploding in the sky on July 17, Balice said.

The explosion killed all 230 aboard the Paris-bound jet which blew apart 10 miles from the Long Island shore. Authorities still need more clues to determine whether the plane was downed by a bomb, a missile or an unprecedented mechanical malfunction.

Narrowing the cause depends much on retrieving the remaining 30 percent of the plane still believed to be resting on the ocean floor.

Balice said divers searching in the wreckage field 110 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean could see about 4 to 5 feet in front of them Sunday. That was was much improved from Thursday, when National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Robert Francis said the visibility was less than 4 inches.

``Visibility still isn’t the best, but it’s a lot better than we’ve had,″ Balice said.

It was the first full day of salvage work since Edouard headed north toward Long Island. It veered off without making major landfall, but kicked up heavy seas. Next came Fran, which came ashore in North Carolina but hit much of the East Coast with large surf.

The arrival of new wreckage was eagerly awaited at an aircraft hangar in Calverton, where the plane is being reassembled. Engineers are looking for patterns of damage that might help explain the crash.

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