USA

Article excerpt

Investigators were treating the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, N.Y., as an accident, based on an initial evaluation of the cockpit voice recorder. But they had not ruled out sabotage. The airliner crashed into a residential area minutes after takeoff en route to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Preliminary evidence pointed to a mechanical failure in the plane, whose CF6- 80C2 engine already had drawn close scrutiny on safety concerns. Federal officials had taken initial steps toward requiring tougher inspections last month. At least 260 people on board were killed, nine people were missing on the ground, and 11 houses were damaged or destroyed. (Story, page 2.)

President Bush ordered the government to increase the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by millions of barrels to "strengthen the long- term energy security" of the US. The reserve, which currently holds 544 million barrels, will be filled to its capacity, 700 million barrels, Bush said. With oil prices falling, the Energy Department last month recommended funneling in more crude. Energy Secretary Abraham said potential terrorism or military strikes in Afghanistan were not factors in the decision.

White House officials hailed the Taliban retreat from Kabul as a breakthrough in the war in Afghanistan but remained concerned that Northern Alliance forces entering the capital could prompt more fighting. …