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Trawlers still finding bits of Flight 800

More than eight months after TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of New York, recovery ships are still finding pieces of the downed plane in the Atlantic Ocean, the top FBI investigator said Wednesday.

Recovery ships are trawling an ever-expanding area around the site where the Boeing 747 crashed July 17, killing all 230 people on board, James Kallstrom, head of the FBI's New York office, told a meeting of the New York Press Club.

"We're still finding pieces," Kallstrom said.

The ships are moving closer to Kennedy International Airport, where the jet took off on its way to Paris and exploded in the air 11{ minutes later, he said.

About 90 percent of the wreckage has been recovered, and parts of the plane are being reassembled in an aircraft hangar in Calverton, New York.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI do not know what caused the crash and say that a missile, a bomb or mechanical failure may have brought the plane down. They know the plane's center fuel tank exploded, but they do not know why.

Kallstrom, the chief spokesman for the investigation, voiced exasperation over persistent claims made by former White House press secretary Pierre Salinger that a U.S. Navy missile shot down the plane and that the U.S. government has covered up the incident.

"It's all crap," Kallstrom said. "He's got to know that unless he has, to some extent, lost reality."

Investigators considered the possibility of so-called friendly fire immediately after the crash but ruled it out, he said.

Contrary to Salinger's claims, radar tapes show no signs of a missile, he said.

He also said he would like to show those tapes to the public, "and I hope one day soon to be able to do that."

He added that investigators have not ruled out the possibility of a missile, largely because of witnesses who report seeing something streaking toward the doomed plane.

"Hundreds of people saw something in the sky, and a subset of those saw the same thing," Kallstrom said.

Also, he added, planes in Africa, the Middle East and the Soviet Union have been shot down by hand-held missiles in the past.