Searchers have found 10 more oxygen canisters, many of them burned, around the crater created by ValuJet Flight 592 when it plunged into the Everglades.
Until now workers had found only six of the canisters, suspected as a possible cause of a fire on board the DC-9 just before it crashed May 11, killing 110 people aboard. There were more than 120 of the canisters in a cargo hold of the jet."The canisters I saw were all charred and twisted by the heat," Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., said after visiting the crash site.
Two canister end caps found earlier showed evidence of heat damage. The canisters, old oxygen generators for passenger emergency masks, contain a volatile mixture of chemicals and can heat up to 500 degrees when triggered.
On the plane's cockpit voice recorder, pilots are heard talking about a fire in the cabin and passengers' difficulty breathing, investigators say.
Calls to the National Transportation Safety Board on Sunday were greeted by a taped message saying no new information would be released during the weekend. Metro Dade police said they were unaware of any specific findings at the crash site Sunday.
Investigators still are uncertain if the oxygen canisters started the blaze or fed it, NTSB spokesman Peter Goelz told the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale. It also remains uncertain if the fire started in the cargo hold or was started by an electrical fire elsewhere, he said.
The Miami Herald reported Sunday that aviation experts believe the fire would have produced gases so deadly that no one was still alive when the plane crashed and disintegrated.
Meanwhile, the recovery effort has continued.
The NTSB has retrieved half the plane, but the cockpit and the bulk of the fuselage have not been found.
A large backhoe, sitting on pontoon platforms, was in place on the west side of the crater and was dredging materials from the swampy bottom. The wreckage is placed on a sifter that will allow workers to distinguish between debris and human remains. The remains of 24 victims have been identified but no names have been released.