60 killed in Romanian airplane crash ─ cause unknown

The Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania─Dozens of mourners mingled yesterday with investigators who continued to find body parts and personal belongings strewn about a field where an airliner crashed, killing all 60 people on board.

One man lit candles and placed daffodils in a snarled piece of metal from the fuselage of the Airbus A310.

''I am very moved,'' said Ion Puscasu, a 63-year-old technician who didn't know anyone on the plane but was drawn to the scene by the enormity of the tragedy.

Investigators around him sifted through the field in the village of Balotesti, about 13 miles north of Bucharest, where debris from Friday's Tarom airlines crash littered a wide area.

Equipment was being flown in from France to analyze the plane's flight data recorders. Instrument readings and other information stored in the ''black boxes'' can tell investigators what happened on the plane in the minutes before the crash.

Investigators have reached some preliminary conclusions, but were not ready to say what they were, said Sorin Stoicescu, head of a multinational investigating commission.

Tarom's general manager said an internal investigation had all but ruled out pilot error.

''It was something that was out of the control of the pilot,'' said Nicolae Brutaru. ''I don't think it was a loss of motor control or pilot error.''

Investigators were also conducting tests to see if the plane exploded or caught fire before impact, as witnesses have reported.

Both Tarom airlines and Bucharest's Otopeni international airport, where the plane had taken off just before the crash, received several bomb threats over the past two weeks, but all were hoaxes, Brutaru said.

The plane took off during a sleet storm on its way to Brussels, Belgium, but aviation officials said weather did not appear to be a factor.

Tarom grounded its two other A310s after the crash, but they were brought back into service Sunday.

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