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NTSB Continues Airline Crash Investigation, NY Residents Mourn - 2001-11-16

U.S. investigators say a number of factors may have been responsible for the crash of an American Airlines passenger jet Monday in New York City. And, in Belle Harbor, where the plane en route to the Dominican Republic came down, residents are mourning. The National Transportation Safety Board says it is very likely the cause of Monday's crash will end up as a combination of factors - wind plus turbulence plus pilot reaction, for example. But it says nothing has been ruled out at this stage of the investigation, including sabotage, although all signs now continue to suggest an accident.

Meanwhile, emergency crews are finishing the job of cleaning out the debris at the crash site. They have already recovered 265 bodies - 260 people who were on the plane and five who were killed on the ground.

There was a funeral Friday in Belle Harbor for two of the five neighbors - a mother and son who died when the plane crashed into their home. The son, a law student, lost his best friend at the World Trade Center September 11.

The community of Belle Harbor lost scores of its residents in that terror attack. They have been going to funerals for weeks. Their hearts were heavy as they attended this latest one.

One young man says it sometimes seems like it is too much to bear. "It's just tough because so many people our age are dead," he said. "I feel like I've been to enough funerals to last a lifetime right now."

Some say they have stopped looking for a rationale behind all this suffering.

It's just devastating. You just don't ask why anymore," said one resident. "You're just calm and your heart's broken. And each funeral we go to reminds you of all the funerals we've gone to."

The memorials have begun for the victims of flight 587. On Thursday, hundreds of Dominicans from the New York area gathered to remember their friends and relatives who were on that flight.

The Roman Catholic Church has taken an active role in providing comfort. "It's a terrible tragedy. It's a terrible burden," said Cardinal Edward Egan. "So you ask what do we offer? We offer a sign, a proof of love and compassion and understanding and willingness to share the pain."

Many mourners could not speak about their loss. Some said it was too soon to see beyond their grief.