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A Legacy of Wreckage

July 20, 1996

Major commercial aviation disasters caused by explosions:

THE 1970s

Feb. 21, 1970: Shortly after takeoff from Zurich, a Swissair plane bound to Tel Aviv explodes and crashes, killing 47. On the same day an Austrian airliner carrying mail for Israel from Frankfurt, W. Germany, to Vienna is damaged by an explosion in flight; no one is hurt.

Oct. 6, 1976: 73 people, including 24 members of the Cuban national fencing team are killed when their Cubana Airlines DC-8 crashes into the sea minutes after taking off from Barbados. Four Cuban exiles are charged with planting a bomb aboard the plane.

THE 1980s

Aug. 11, 1982: An explosion on a Pan Am jet bound from Tokyo to Hawaii kills one and injures 15, but the plane lands safely. Six years later a Palestinian is arrested and charged with planting a bomb on the plane.

June 23, 1985: Air-India Boeing 747 crashes off the coast of Ireland, killing 329; investigators conclude a bomb caused the crash.

Aug. 22, 1985: A British Airtours Boeing 737's engine explodes on takeoff from Manchester, England, killing 55 passengers and crew.

April 2, 1986: A bomb placed under a seat on TWA Flight 840 bound from Rome explodes as the plane begins its descent into Athens. Police said that the bomb was left under the seat by a passenger on a previous flight. Four Americans are killed and nine passengers are hurt.

Nov. 29, 1987: Korean Airlines Flight 858 disappears in the jungle near the Thailand-Burma border, killing all 115 aboard. Suspicion that a bomb was placed by two passengers who departed from the Boeing 707 one stop before it disappeared while bound for Bangkok.

April 28, 1988: Explosive decompression caused by stress corrosion tore open an Aloha Airlines Boeing 737 over the ocean near Hawaii, killiing 1 and injuring 60.

Dec. 21, 1988: Pan Am Boeing 747 crashes in Lockerbie, Scotland; a terrorist bomb is blamed; 270 killed, including 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground.

July 19, 1989: A United Airlines DC-10 crashes in Iowa after the plane's tail engine explodes, killing 111 of the 296 aboard.

Nov. 27, 1989: A bomb explosion in the passenger cabin of a Boeing 727 killed 111 people in a crash near Bogota, Colombia. Cocaine traffickers are suspected.

Sept. 19, 1989: A French DC-10 airliner on the way from the Congo to Paris explodes over the Sahara Desert killing all 171 aboard. Four Libyan officials are blamed for placing a bomb aboard the plane.

Oct. 21, 1989: A Honduran Boeing 727 crashes after an explosion while preparing to land; 131 killed.

THE 1990s

May 12, 1990: An explosion and fire in a Philippine Airlines Boeing 737-300 tears through the jetliner as it prepares for takeoff at Manila's airport, killing 8 people and injuring 86.

May 26, 1991: An Austrian charter jet explodes into a fireball in midair and crashes in the Thai jungle, killing all 213 passengers and 10 crew members. It is believed an engine explosion caused the Boeing 767-300 to crash.

April 26, 1994: A China Airlines A300-600R Airbus explodes and burns during an aborted landing in Nagoya, Japan; 262 killed.

May 11, 1996: A ValuJet DC-9 crashes in the Florida Everglades, killing 110. The cause of the crash focuses on the explosion of oxygen canisters mistakenly placed in a cargo hold.

Source: Times wire reports

Researched by CARY SCHNEIDER / Los Angeles Times

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