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2 Bombs Blew Up Mexicana Jet, Pilots Say : Believe Explosions Are Connected to Insurance Scam

United Press International

Mexicana Airlines pilots today said there is evidence that the crash of a Mexicana jet that killed 166 people last week was caused by two bomb blasts--possibly planted as part of an insurance scam.

The pilots said airline officials will present evidence on Thursday that shows two bombs exploded 40 seconds apart and blew away the tail section of the Boeing 727 over the rugged Sierra Madre mountains. The evidence will be detailed during a meeting with airline employees.

The pilots, who were interviewed at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City and spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said the bombing was probably part of an insurance fraud scam.

They said Mexican authorities were waiting to see who came forward to claim additional insurance purchased for one of the flight’s passengers.

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Cargo Door Blown Off

Earlier today, Thomas Ashwood, first vice president of the International Airline Pilots Assn., told “The CBS Morning News” that inspection of the plane’s wreckage by Mexican officials indicated a cargo door was blown off.

He said he had learned from the Mexican pilots’ association that there was other evidence of an explosion inside the plane.

“I got information from colleagues in Mexico that had been investigating what we thought was an accident until today,” Ashwood said from London.

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“They said forensic examination of the wreckage indicates that the cargo door was blown off and a forensic examination of other parts of the wreckage also (are consistent) with an explosion inside the aircraft.

“Indications are very strong that airplane was forced down as a result of an explosion and probably a bomb on board the aircraft,” he said. “These are the early indications, I would stress, but they seem to be fairly positive.”

Hijackings, Terrorism Topics

The IALPA opens its annual conference in London today with hijackings, terrorism and the possibility of boycotting some airports expected to be the main topics.

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Two Middle East terrorist groups, the Arab Revolutionary Brigades and the Egyptian Revolutionaries, claimed joint responsibility for the Mexicana crash in a Saturday statement from Beirut, but there was no known link.

The groups said the Mexicana disaster was “a suicide attack in retaliation for U.S. aggression against Libya.”

The Mexicana Airlines Boeing 727 was carrying 166 passengers and crew members when it crashed in central Mexico March 31 a few minutes after take off from Mexico City. The plane was bound for Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles.


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