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KAL Crash Tied to Time Bomb Type of Device

November 30, 1987|United Press International

BANGKOK, Thailand — South Korean officials today linked the crash of a Korean Air jetliner with 115 aboard to an explosion of "a time bomb-like device" possibly set by terrorists seeking to disrupt planning for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The four-engine Boeing 707 airliner with 95 passengers and 10 crew members went down Sunday in dense jungle in Thailand near its border with Burma, about 125 miles northwest of Bangkok. (Story on Page 5.) The remote location, foliage-choked ground and thick mud spawned by the rainy season hampered rescue efforts.

Thai officials held out little hope of finding survivors. All but two of the passengers were Korean.

Reports of possible looting of the wreckage by villagers filtered out of the jungle.

No Immediate Proof

No proof was available immediately to support the claims by KAL officials blaming the crash on a terrorist bomb because no debris from the wreckage had been recovered.

Rather, the officials based their statements on an initial report sent to Seoul by a South Korean team sent to Bangkok to investigate the crash, a South Korean official said.

"Without a sudden explosion, which I very strongly suspect is the work of terrorists in connection with the 1988 Olympic Games, it could never have happened." KAL President Cho Choong Kun told the state-run television.

Another KAL official at the Seoul rescue center said: "We cannot point out the organization who might have carried out the bombing. But the group might have been one of those who are intent on hampering the 1988 Olympics" that are to begin in September.

South Korea's news agency, Yonhap, quoted an investigation official in Seoul as saying "an abrupt incident" was responsible for the crash and that the possibility of "air terrorism" could not be dismissed.

"We do not rule out the possibility of the plane crashing following an explosion in the air while being taken by hijackers," the television quoted the investigation team as saying.

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