DALLAS — Federal investigators searched the burned-out remnants of a bus Saturday for clues to why it blew up in a traffic jam, killing 24 elderly people who were fleeing Hurricane Rita.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said investigators would analyze the wreckage for evidence. The explosion Friday killed residents of a Houston nursing home who were heading inland.
Mark Cooper, a lawyer for Global Limo Inc., the south Texas company that operated the charter bus, said Saturday that the company was monitoring the situation.
"We are and will continue to cooperate with the ongoing governmental investigation," Cooper said in a statement.
The 38 residents of Brighton Gardens nursing home had boarded the bus Thursday afternoon, then spent hours in heavy traffic caused by the hurricane evacuation.
The bus pulled over early Friday on Interstate 45 south of Dallas. Witnesses have said they then saw smoke filling the cabin. The vehicle soon was in flames, and a series of explosions -- probably medical oxygen canisters -- fueled the flames, trapping most of the occupants.
Six nursing home employees and the driver survived.
Three people remained hospitalized Saturday.
Holloway said he could not comment on a newspaper report Saturday that the 1991-model bus had an expired registration and might have been called into use only because of the emergency. The Houston Chronicle reported it was not among 10 buses registered with the state as being used commercially by Global Limo.
Another newspaper said Global Limo had a history of safety and financial problems. The Dallas Morning News reported the owners of the company filed for bankruptcy protection in February in a bid to block a takeover of the business for nonpayment of debt. The company's license also was revoked for a few days in May by federal authorities, the second time since 1993.