The crash of TWA Flight 800 remains a tumultuous tragedy, with relatives of the victims expected to gather on Saturday to mark 25 years of the disaster.
The Boeing 747 took off from Kennedy Airport on 17 July 1996, bound for Paris with 230 people on board – but a mid-air explosion occurred 12 minutes later. The plane crashed in the waters off Long Island.
All passengers and crew died, making the accident the third deadliest aviation accident in American history.
The victims came from 14 different countries and included 16 Pennsylvania high school students and their mentors.
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Initially, many feared that the plane was attacked by terrorists. But investigators later concluded that a fuel tank exploded, possibly ignited by a power failure, According to CBS New York.
A quarter century later, relatives of the victims are expected to gather in Smith Point County Park, where the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial stands.
The monument regularly attracts gloomy visitors, who often leave flowers or candles or balloons and lanterns into the sky.
The wreckage of the plane is in custody in northern Virginia, where it was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. Since 2003, first responders and security investigators have used the recovered remains for training purposes, The Washington Post reported.
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An agreement between the agency and the victims’ families specified that the wreckage would be used for training purposes only.
However, the end of the hangar’s lease has prompted the NTSB to remove the material this month, with plans to dismantle the wreck by the end of the year.
“I have mixed feelings,” said Larry Gustin, the son of one of the victims. “Especially this is the 25th year. We are missing something that has always been there.”