...Fuel Contamination Probed In Venezuelan Crash

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The crash of a West Caribbean MD-82 last Tuesday in Venezuela seems a little more straightforward but it's not without its share of mystery. The pilots reported that both engines failed on the airliner, which went down in northern Venezuela on a flight from Panama to Martinique, killing all 160 people aboard. Officials are now wondering if fuel contamination was to blame for the flameout (there was plenty of fuel on board) and why, instead of gliding to earth, the plane hit the ground in a 7,000-fpm dive. Colombian officials who inspected the plane prior to the flight said it was airworthy. "It was a complete inspection and the aircraft was ready to fly," Col. Eduardo Montealegre, acting head of Colombia's Civil Aviation Department, told reporters. West Caribbean has had its share of difficulties since it was founded in 1998. Last March, one of its Czech-built Let L-410 turboprops crashed on takeoff from an island off the coast of Colombia, killing six passengers and two crew. It has also been penalized for weight issues and crew training problems.