Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Thursday April 12 1:29 AM ET
Thai Airways Fire Report Released 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The blast and fire aboard a Thai Airways Boeing 737 last month apparently was caused by an exploding fuel tank, according to U.S. federal investigators.

A flight attendant was killed and the plane was destroyed in the March 3 blast.

Investigators believe a similar problem caused TWA Flight 800 to explode off the coast of New York in 1996, killing all 230 aboard last year.

The Thai Airways plane burst into flames minutes before Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and 148 passengers were about to board.

A report released Wednesday by the National Transportation and Safety Board said the plane's center tank exploded first, followed by the right tank 18 minutes later. The center tank is located near air conditioning packs, which had been running nonstop and generate heat when operating.

The report did not draw a conclusion about what caused the fuel tank to explode.

The 9-year-old plane had been sitting at a gate at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok when the blast occurred. 

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