Ships that normally bring up shellfish are coming up with a surprising amount of wreckage from TWA Flight 800, pleasing investigators who hope to find key evidence for the mystery of the flight's fiery end.
"We knew there had to be a lot of stuff down there, and we are happy that they have found this many pieces," James Kallstrom, an FBI assistant director and head of the criminal probe into the explosion, said Wednesday."We're very surprised at the amount we're bringing up, and we're obviously very happy about it," added Shelly Hazle, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board.
Hazle said hundreds of pounds of wreckage were retrieved since trawling began this week off the coast of Long Island. The pieces, some as large as 2 feet in size, were taken to a hangar where investigators are reassembling the plane.
The Boeing 747 exploded July 17 shortly after takeoff from Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people aboard. All but 16 bodies have been recovered.
Kallstrom said the results so far left the FBI and NTSB pleased that they chose scallop trawling - in which 15-foot-wide iron dredges are drawn across the sea's bottom - over other alternatives for picking up remaining wreckage, after divers finished their salvage hunt last week.
"The more wreckage we recover, the better chance we have of finding out what happened," Kallstrom said.
More than three months of investigating has failed to determine why the plane crashed.