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News Briefs

Investigators Study Singapore Flight’s Final Recorded Data


Investigators of this week’s fatal Singapore Airlines crash here began combing through the doomed flight’s final 16 minutes of recorded information Thursday in hopes of determining the accident’s cause, including whether the pilot might have tried to take off from the wrong runway.

Questions mounted over why wreckage from the downed Boeing 747-400, which split into three pieces, was found mostly on a runway adjacent to the path it was scheduled to use.

Dramatic video footage of the area showed scorched aircraft parts strewn among construction equipment on the adjacent runway, which was under repair and not in use at the time of the accident. Some of the construction equipment was damaged, leading to speculation that the jet had somehow lumbered onto the unused runway and tried taking off, striking the machinery and breaking up in flames.

Survivors reported hearing a loud noise and feeling a loud jolt, possibly two, right before the plane went down.

Officials warned against rushing to judgment, saying that investigators need to examine all the information from the jet’s two “black boxes,” the flight data and voice cockpit recorders, before drawing conclusions.

FBI Seeks Source of Bombs Used in Deadly Cole Attack


The FBI is probing the source of the C-4 military-style plastic explosives used by suicide bombers to kill 17 sailors aboard the USS Cole last month, attempting to track down the producer of the explosive as one way of identifying the attackers, sources said Thursday.

The use of C-4 is considered significant by some security experts who believe a sophisticated device composed of a large amount of military-style explosive indicates that a government hostile to the U.S. may have been involved in supporting the operation.

However, a number of U.S. intelligence analysts continue to believe the terrorist Oct. 12 terrorist attack in the Yemeni port of Aden was masterminded by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden.

In addition, the use of C-4 has caught the attention of FBI investigators because several thousand pounds of the same explosive were used in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. military housing complex in Saudi Arabia, which left 19 American servicemen dead. The probe of who was responsible for that attack has not been completed.

WorldCom Will Divide in Two


Desperate to boost its stock price and regain favor with Wall Street, communications giant WorldCom Inc. said Wednesday it will split the company in two and begin paying dividends as part of a major restructuring that mimics moves made last week by rival AT&T Corp.

The reaction on Wall Street, however, was not what WorldCom had in mind. Far from reviving the company’s sinking stock price, disappointed investors pummeled WorldCom shares anew, sending the stock down $4.81, or 20 percent, to close at $18.94 on the Nasdaq, WorldCom’s lowest close in more than three years. More than 195 million shares traded, making it the third-most-active stock in U.S. history.

Mississippi-based WorldCom didn’t help its case Wednesday, coupling the restructuring announcement with projections of lower sales and earnings through 2001 -- a disappointment that some analysts believe sparked much of the stock’s subsequent free fall.