Crash Reminiscent Of TWA 800

While Canadian officials say it's too early to tell what caused the crash of Swissair Flight 111 Wednesday night, experts are comparing the scope of the disaster that of Flight 800 two years ago.

The Swissair jetliner, a Boeing McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 crashed about seven miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. Rescuers began collecting debris from the wreckage site Thursday. Only a few dozen bodies of the 229 people killed in the crash were recovered.

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Former Director of the FBI's New York Bureau and CBS News Consultant James Kallstrom investigated the Flight 800 crash. He says both accidents present a similar problem to investigators.

"It's in the ocean, in 150 feet of water. [Flight 800 was] in 130 feet, which makes it a complex scene," Kallstrom said.

Two summers ago, Paris-bound TWA Flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 17, 1996. All 230 people aboard died.

Kallstrom says the search for survivors was the first priority. Since rescuers found no survivors Thursday, the recovery teams began the sad task of clearing the bodies they find. They have also begun to collect the bits of floating wreckage that may serve as evidence in the investigation.

Ships will search the waters for "debris fields," Kallstrom says.

"In TWA, we had two or three major debris fields in different locations," Kallstrom explains. "They will have a methodology to bring the pieces up through divers and through the use of robotic technology."

Kallstrom says the investigators will also bring in law enforcement officials, and the crash site will be treated as evidence.

"It's going to take a lot of time and technology, a lot of people to bring the pieces of the plane up," he said. "You might remember, we had almost a million pieces on TWA Flight 800. They have a daunting task ahead of them."

While investigations have no evidence yet of whether terrorism played a part in the tragedy, Kallstrom says they will look into that.

"I don't think we should be in the position of ruling things in or ruling things out. No one apparently has [claimed responsibility] for it. The outward signs are not terrorism. The prudent thing to do would be to look at that as a possibility also," he said.