Qantas probe focuses on oxygen tank

July 28, 2008 3:38:07 AM PDT
Investigators found fragments that appeared to bolster the theory that an oxygen tank exploded on board a Qantas jet, forcing it to make an emergency landing with a car-sized hole in its fuselage, an official said Monday.A valve and other small fragments that were found would be tested to determine if they came from the tank, which is designed to provide oxygen to passengers during an emergency, said Neville Blyth, a senior investigator from the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau.

"We recovered...a valve from an oxygen cylinder," Blyth said. "It is likely that that valve is from the missing cylinder."

The fragments were found close to where the missing tank was stored beneath the passenger cabin, he said.

If the valve and other small fragments are determined to have come from the cylinder, further investigation would been ordered to urgently inspect every oxygen bottle aboard its fleet of 30 Boeing 747s, which is expected to take several days.