Hole in fuel tank blamed for jetliner fire in Japan - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hole in fuel tank blamed for jetliner fire in Japan

Associated Press - August 23, 2007 8:43 AM ET

TOKYO (AP) - Aviation officials investigating Monday's explosion of a Taiwanese jetliner at Japan's Naha airport are linking it to a hole in a fuel tank.

Transport officials today say fuel gushed out, causing the fire. The plane exploded in a huge fireball just as the last of the 165 passengers and crew were sliding down the evacuation chutes. All of them made it to safety.

The Boeing 737 owned by Taiwan's China Airlines was made in the U.S., and American aviation experts have joined a team from Japan and Taiwan in the investigation.

The chief investigator says the hole was apparently caused by a bolt that flew off the right wing slat. Now they're trying to find out why the bolt failed.

Japan's Transport Ministry has ordered three Japanese airlines that fly similar planes to inspect their bolts and the wing slats.

Japan's Kyodo News agency reports Boeing issued an inspection advisory two years ago after receiving reports of similar cases of bolts penetrating fuel tanks.

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