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Dramatic New Photos of Damage to British Airways Jet That Burst Into Flames During Takeoff

L.E. BASKOW/AFP/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) — As dramatic new photos emerge of the damage sustained by a Boeing 777 that burst into flames during takeoff from a runway at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board is launching an investigation into the incident.

The British Airways jet, carrying 170 passengers and crew, may have experienced a mechanical failure that tore apart the engine, spitting flames and segments of hot metal into the fuselage, located just under the cabin, experts tell ABC News.

The airline called the problem a “technical issue.”

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority and we are looking after those who were on board,” British Airways said in a statement. “The aircraft, a 777-200, experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off. … Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport.”

“The engine really just exploded,” ABC News aviation consultant Col. Steve Ganyard explained. “After they put the fire out, you could see how clearly that fire came to almost penetrating into the cabin.”

“It appears to have been an uncontained engine failure,” John Hansman, director of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation, told ABC News.

Mangled metal likely shot out of the engine like “shrapnel,” igniting a fire in the plane’s belly, he said.

The jet was traveling at just under 90 mph when the flames burst forth, according to FlightRadar24.
The pilot immediately declared a “mayday” and crews evacuated the passengers via the plane’s inflatable slides as thick smoke engulfed the jet.

“Literally, it was fight or flight, and I just jumped,” one passenger told ABC News. “I can’t even say I felt anything, that’s how fast it happened.”

According to Hansman, it’s lucky the fire started when it did.

“If it had happened 20 seconds later or 30 seconds later… the pilot would have, by procedure, taken off,” Hansman said. The fire would have burned for an additional three or four minutes while the pilot attempted a landing before passengers could evacuate.

As the Clark County Fire Department worked with airport authorities to extinguish the flames, multiple passengers were transported to local hospitals.

The fire was out just 5 minutes after the pilot’s distress call, the airport said.

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Watch Bomb Squad Robot Enter Aurora Theater Shooter’s Apartment

Courtesy District Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial District of Colorado(AURORA, Colo.) — Newly released video shows the moment a bomb squad robot entered the apartment of Aurora, Colorado, theater gunman James Holmes, which was booby-trapped with over 20 bombs and incendiaries.

After Holmes was apprehended behind the theater, where he opened fire three years ago during a midnight screening of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, he told police about his booby-trapped apartment, according to Richard Orman, a senior deputy district attorney for the 18th Judicial District of Colorado.

Five buildings surrounding Holmes’ residence were then evacuated, and a remotely controlled Adams County Bomb Squad robot was sent into Holmes’ apartment early in the morning of July 21, 2012, just a few hours after the shooting, Orman told ABC News.

The first thing you can see in the newly released video obtained by ABC News is white powder and discolorations scattered across the apartment’s floor — gun powder and gasoline and motor oil, respectively, according to a newly released, 62-page FBI report obtained by ABC News that details the explosives.

A closer look from the bomb squad’s robot camera also revealed dozens of black spheres with fuses all connected to each other and to pickle jars with liquid and bullets inside of them.

The 16 black spheres contained smokeless powder and gasoline, while pickle jars connected to the spheres were layered with thermite, which creates high-temperature fires, in addition to bullets and napalm.

A few 2-liter soda bottles in the back of the apartment also contained more gasoline.

The first booby trap was a trip-wire made of a fishing line with one end connected to the door jam and the other connected to a thermos, Orman said. The thermos had a bottle of nearly pure glycerin perched precariously on a frying pan that contained the chemical potassium permanganate.

If the glycerin had fallen in, a huge flame would’ve ignited, “blowing up the whole apartment,” Osman said.

He added that Holmes set up a recording with 40 minutes of silence, followed by loud music in what he believed was an attempt to get someone to open the door and set off the trap wire.

Holmes’ downstairs neighbor Kaitlyn Fonzi testified in May that she was drawn to the apartment around midnight by the music, and though she knocked, no one answered so she left.

Two other booby traps involving remote-controlled pyrotechnic systems were also set up by Holmes, including a button set up inside the apartment and a remote control placed by a dumpster outside next to an RC toy car.

“We believe he hoped someone would hear the boom box, try to play with the car and use a remote control that would actually blow the whole place up,” Osman said.

None of the trigger systems were ever initiated, and all the bombs were successfully disarmed.

Holmes was convicted in July on one count of the possession of incendiary devices, in addition to two counts for each of the 12 murders and 70 attempted murders he committed inside the theater. He was …read more […]

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More Than 1,000 Items Recovered at DC’s ‘Beach’ Exhibit

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As the tide begins to recede from the National Building Museum’s “Beach” exhibit in Washington, D.C., and volunteers start the process of packing up the massive ball pit, more and more buried treasure is being found.

“Anything from wedding bands, heirlooms, jewelry, to hearing airs, to lots of cell phones, and lots of high quality sun glasses,” Kristin Sheldon, the museum’s honorary “lost and found queen,” told ABC News.

More than a thousand items have been turned into the information desk since the exhibit’s opening in early July. Behind the desk, there are makeshift boxes, overflowing with stuff.

“Today’s bag, to give you a sense,” Sheldon said as she picks up a bursting zip-lock pouch, “a couple of cellphones, a wallet, couple of credit cards. This is pretty indicative of what we’ve found.”

The gatekeeper to these treasures is a huge binder, housing more than 800 inquiries forms from visitors.

“A young man went to great lengths in his inquiry to get his pink diamond back and silly puddy,” Sheldon laughs and she holds up the costume diamond and a balm of puddy.

She said some others sought out items include a bandanna, single shoes and a $20 bill.

“And lens caps. I have a whole bag of lens caps,” Sheldon said.

The museum plans to try and match the items requested in forms with the belongings in the boxes. Anything unaccounted for is going to be donated to charity, reused by the museum, or thrown out.

More personal belongings are expected to be recovered in the coming days as several dozen volunteers work to pack up the more than 700,000 balls. The exhibit is being moved across town into storage where an art coalition will use it as inspiration for a design competition.

“It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be fun,” said Sheldon. “Museum people love objects. We love the stories they tell. This is just an added bonus to the really successful summer we’ve had.”

More than 180,000 people visited the exhibit this summer.

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