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Washington Beat: NTSB Addresses Investigation Into TWA Flight 800 Crash

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The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday tried to clear up doubts about its official investigation into the cause of the tragic 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a press briefing closed to cameras, the NTSB said what it's always said: that what likely caused Flight 800 to crash into the Atlantic 17 years ago was an explosion in a fuel tank, a spark from a short-circuit in the plane's wiring.

Reporters were shown the ruins of the fuselage, reconstructed from bits and pieces salvaged from the waters off Long Island after the plane went down shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The NTSB said it stands by its findings in spite of a new documentary that suggests a missile brought the plane down, killing all 230 people on board.

Hank Hughes is a former NTSB investigator. He is now a purported whistle-blower.

"An external explosion caused the demise of TWA flight 800," Hughes said.

"When you look at the evidence, it shows that there was an external detonation that brought down this plane," said Tom Stalcup, a physicist who independently investigated the official NTSB report.

Though Hughes and Stalcup maintain the cause of that explosion came from outside the aircraft, they aren't as clear as to why the government would cover it up.

"Their motivation for covering it up? Well, if indeed what we are saying is true, I can imagine, I think your viewers can, too, that something could have occurred that could have be embarrassing that they may want to cover this up," Stalcup said. "I just don't want to speculate about what that was 'cause I haven't nailed that down yet."

NTSB investigators say a "streak of light" witnesses saw in the sky was actually burning fuel from the airplane after the initial explosion and not a missile, but the NTSB said it's reviewing a petition to reopen the investigation.

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