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Light just before TWA crash likely fuel leak, agencies say

A mysterious streak of light seen by more than 200 people just before TWA Flight 800 crashed was probably the jet breaking up and leaking burning fuel - not a missile that shot the aircraft down, the CIA and the FBI say.

Carolyn Osborn, a CIA spokeswoman, said Tuesday that a seven-month study - still incomplete - found that "what people interpreted as a missile was in fact the aircraft after the first explosion rocked it.""The plane continued to gain altitude, giving the appearance of a missile," Osborn said.

The Paris-bound Boeing 747 exploded on July 17, 1996, shortly after leaving New York's Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people on board.

Investigators know the center fuel tank exploded but don't know why. They are leaning toward mechanical failure but have not entirely ruled out a bomb or missile.