229 Dead In Swissair Crash

Reese Witherspoon accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for her work in "Walk the Line," at the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday, Jan. 29, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) AP

A pocketbook, necktie, and baby sling were among the items plucked from the water Thursday after a Swissair jetliner plummeted into the ocean, killing all 229 people aboard.


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The smell of jet fuel hung like a cloud over the grim scene as recovery workers were aided by local fishermen in scouring a six-mile-wide area off the coast of Nova Scotia, looking for bodies. The plane crashed Wednesday night after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and attempted an emergency landing at Halifax International Airport.

Among the dead were 137 Americans, according to airline officials. By mid-morning, rescuers had recovered 36 bodies from the turbulent waters a few miles off Peggy's Cove, a small fishing village and tourist retreat.

A Swissair spokeswoman said the victims' names would be posted on the airline's Web site Thursday evening.

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The Geneva-bound Flight 111 left New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday at 8:17 p.m. EDT. The flight was co-operated by Delta Airlines, also numbered 111.

The plane, a Boeing MD-11, carried 229 passengers, including two infants and 14 crew, said Philippe Roy, a Geneva airport spokesman.

Speaking from Northern Ireland, President Clinton said after learning of the crash, "We hope for the best, and we are deeply grieved that this has occurred."


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In Atlanta, Delta spokesman Bill Berry said the "best information available" was that 53 Delta passengers were on board the flight, which the two airlines shared in a partnership.

A spokesman for the World Health Organization said Thursday that Dr. Jonathan Mann, a former WHO official and early pioneer in the fight against AIDS, and his wie, Mary-Lou Clements Mann, were among the passengers killed in the crash.

Seven current U.N members were also among the dead. They included Pierce Gerety, an American on the High Commission of Refugees based in Geneva.

[Click here for more on the victims.]


AP
CLICK IMAGE: Unidentified relative of a Flight 111 passenger is comforted at Geneva's Cointrin airport.

Witnesses reported debris from the downed aircraft spread over a wide area of ocean, including an oil slick and life preservers, all illuminated by searchlights from Coast Guard cutters, helicopters, and aircraft.

"We heard the plane go over our home, then my husband and son heard quite an explosion," Blandford resident Audrey Bachman told The Associated Press. She said she was sleeping at the time of the crash.

Other witnesses reported hearing groaning sounds before the plane went down. "The motors were still going, but it was the worst-sounding deep groan that I've ever heard," said Claudia Zinck-Gilroy.

Local fishing vessels helped comb the 61-degree waters for possible survivors, but they found only bodies and human remains.

Delta/Swissair Information Hotline for friends and family: 1-800-801-0088.
CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr reports that pilots first radioed that there was a problem when the plane was at 33,000 feet, its cruising altitude and normally the safest part of the flight. Minutes later, a second call was made requesting an emergency landing at a nearby airport.

Lt. Cmdr. Glenn Chamberlain of the Halifax Rescue Coordination Center said those calls came about one hour into the flight.

"The flight deck crew reported smoke in the cockpit before attempting the emergency landing. About 30 miles south of the airport, the aircraft disappeared from radar screens," Swissair spokeswoman Beatrice Tschanz said.

U.S. officials said there is no evidence that the crash was the result of a terrorist act, perhaps retaliation for U.S. missile strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan.

"We have no indication that terrorism was involved," said White House spokesman P.J. Crowley. Canadian crash investigators added that so far there was no evidence of criminaactivity.

Crash investigators continued to search for the plane's flight/data recorder into the afternoon on Thursday.


AP
CLICK IMAGE: Rescue workers pull sneakers from water.

The plane dumped fuel over nearby St. Margaret's Bay before crashing, The Canadian Press reported. Orr reports that it is common for a pilot to dump fuel before attempting an emergency landing.

Lt. Cmdr. Mike Considine of the Search and Rescue Center in Halifax said the weather in the area was good at the time of the crash, with clear skies and relatively calm seas. It later began to rain as rescuers continued their search for survivors.

Crash investigators told reporters that there was a large portion of the plane still intact, although it has not yet been recovered.


AP
CLICK IMAGE: Flight 111 listed as delayed at Geneva's airport Wednesday night.

Boeing officials told CBS News that there was "nothing extraordinary" in the downed jetliner's maintenance records. The MD-11 was a new plane, delivered to Swissair in August 1991. It had logged just 3,500 flight hours, 6,400 takeoffs and landings, and received its last major overhaul in 1996. It received its last one-day maintenance check nearly a month ago on August 10.

McDonnell Douglas first introduced MD-11s, a three-engine plane, in 1986 as the successor to the popular DC-10. The first commercial MD-11 went into service in December 1990. As of April 1998, 178 MD-11s had been delivered. Boeing later acquired McDonnel Douglas and recently announced it would phase out the plane.

In Washington, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Jamie Finch said the U.S. agency was in consultation with its counterparts in Canada and 10 NTSB investigators have been sent to Nova Scotia.


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