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Families grieve after plane crash

BY P. J. HELLER | Baltimore, MD | November 1, 2000

The plane was en route from Taipei, Taiwan to Los Angeles. Some family members were en route to Taiwan on Wednesday;

others were already waiting at the crash site for victims to be identified, a process that could require DNA testing to establish

recognition.

The jetliner crashed as a typhoon was hovering around Taiwan, but preliminary reports from officials indicate the weather was

not to blame. A pilot's report said that the plane struck something on the tarmac.

As of Wednesday morning, 51 people were still the hospital, 48 had been treated and released, and one was still reported as

missing. The plane, flight SQ 006, included a crew of 20. The crash at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport occurred at 11:18

p.m. (Taipei local time).

An American Red Cross family service center has been set up at the Los Angeles International Airport. There, Childcare

Aviation Incident Response (CAIR) teams -- specially trained childcare volunteers sponsored by Church of the Brethren -- are

caring for children who have arrived with family members of survivors or victims of the crash. Red Cross counselors were on

hand at to assist people as well.

An airline spokesman in Los Angeles said the pilot reported hitting an object on take-off. The plane exploded and burst into

flames, witnesses reported. Taiwanese officials said initial reports that the Singapore Airlines jet had struck a China Airlines

plane were wrong. They blamed the aborted takeoff on the impact of a typhoon in the region.

The airline set up a toll free number (800-828-0508) for friends and family members to call to check on passengers aboard the

flight. Two hotlines were also set up in Singapore (65-542-3311 and 65-332-0000).

Presbyterian Disaster Response, which has a presence in Taiwan, said it had not yet decided whether it would launch any

faith-based response to the disaster.

A crisis management center was established at the Chiang Kai-shek airport. The airport was closed for hours after the crash but

reopened early Wednesday. Airline officials reported the passengers included 47 Americans, 55 Taiwanese, 11 Indians, 11

Singaporeans, eight Malaysians, five Indonesians, four Mexicans, four Britons, two Thais, two New Zealanders, two Vietnamese,

and one each from Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Germany, Japan, the Philippines, Ireland, and Spain.

They said the captain, C.K. Foong of Malaysia had 11,235 hours of flying experience. Michael Fam, chairman of Singapore

Airlines, issued a statement in Singapore. "We wish to express our sincere regret to all concerned," he said. "This is a tragic day

for all of us."

Before Tuesday, Singapore Airlines had no previous air disasters in the company's 28-year history. A Boeing 737 operated by

SIA subsidiary SilkAir crashed in December 1997, killing 104 people. The crash of SQ 006 comes exactly one year after Egypt Air

flight 990crashed into the Atlantic while en route from New York to Cairo, killing all 217 on board. CAIR teams also responded

to that tragedy.

Another plane crash occurred Tuesday night in a remote area of northern Angola. A Russian-built plane exploded shortly after

takeoff, killing 42 passengers and six crew members aboard, according to aviation reports. Previous air disasters in this area

have been blamed on poor aircraft maintenance or gunfire from the ongoing civil war.


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