EAST MORICHES, N.Y. — With relatives of the 230 people aboard TWA Flight 800 growing frustrated and angry, officials said Sunday they were moving as fast as possible to recover the victims' submerged bodies as floating debris from the jumbo jet drifted farther out to sea.
The recovery teams aboard Coast Guard cutters and small craft encountered more favorable weather conditions than in days after last week's crash, with the breeze and seas growing calmer. Still, whitecaps made it difficult for searchers aboard a helicopter, a lumbering C-130 cargo plane and two relatively slow jets to differentiate wave crests from debris and tidal drift hampered efforts to keep track of what had been spotted.
And the 500 Coast Guard, Navy and law enforcement personnel conducting the round-the-clock search were themselves frustrated by the difficulties inherent in finding bodies and sunken wreckage even at the Atlantic Ocean's relatively shallow 120-foot depth off Long Island's south shore. They found only one body Sunday, the first retrieved since Thursday.
They were also frustrated by the failure to detect signals of the Boeing 747's flight data and cockpit voice recorders, contained in the so-called black boxes that experts say could provide valuable information about what happened aboard the Paris-bound jet moments before it crashed Wednesday night.
As investigators worked to determine whether the crash was the result of a monstrous mechanical or human failure or an intentional criminal act, there were these developments:
* Vice President Al Gore held out the hope that what may be a large piece of fuselage on the ocean floor can be raised within two days. Investigators have focused their attention on what they described as a large trail of material, which they presume is wreckage, detected on the ocean floor.
* Suffolk County, N.Y., Medical Examiner Charles Wetli said the autopsies he has performed so far have provided no evidence of a bombing. But officials noted that the lack of evidence might simply mean that those bodies recovered so far were too far away from a blast for it to have left signs. Completing the work is "an arduous, tedious task," he said, because "we are dealing with bodies that have been very seriously mutilated."
* Memorial services for the victims were held from Long Island to Los Angeles, including in Montoursville, Pa., a small town from which 21 people, including 16 students, had departed for a high school French club visit to France, via TWA Flight 800.
James Kallstrom, an assistant FBI director, said recovery workers continued to work against time in their efforts.
"We're racing against an emotional clock, for the poor victims," he said.
Members of the victims' families, currently gathered in a Ramada Inn near John F. Kennedy International Airport, are being offered a trip today to Long Island's south shore. They may visit the Coast Guard station from which the work of six cutters and smaller boats is being coordinated. Or, they may be invited to fly over the crash site by helicopter.
In addition, a delegation was going to be escorted to the medical examiner's office, to help them understand the scope of the operation there.
In their search for wreckage, military personnel deployed high-technology sonar devices, which send signals to the ocean floor to map the surface and any objects on it, and underwater video cameras.
"The more we know about what is underneath the water by using the equipment we have, the more that can be done when we do put divers in the water," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gordon Hume said. But without specific targets to explore, Navy divers remained ashore Sunday, officials said.
Robert Francis, the vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said he hoped divers would be sent into the water today "and start to hitch up and pull up wreckage," once sunken pieces of the airplane are located.
"Substantial pieces of the fuselage [are] what's going to tell us what happened," he said.
With only 1% of the airliner recovered, he said, "we do not have the parts of the aircraft where we would expect to find tell-tale evidence." Such parts include the cargo hold, engines and pieces of the plane near the engine, he said.
The aircraft was engulfed in flames as it fell from 13,700 feet half an hour after its departure from Kennedy airport. But the fireball was presumably the 165,000 pounds of jet fuel the plane was estimated to be carrying and not necessarily the flames of an explosive device.
The location of the flight data and voice recorders remained a key target of the units at sea.