NEW YORK -- Investigators scoured the wreckage of a Dominican Republic-bound jetliner for the flight data recorder Tuesday as relatives of the more than 260 victims gathered in hopes of recovering their loved ones' remains.
"I still don't know if they found her," said Guillermina Roy, 18, whose mother was among those missing in the crash that happened just three minutes after takeoff from Kennedy Airport. "I hope I can find out some information."
Roy, wiping away tears, was one of about two dozen people huddled on a chilly morning outside a family-assistance center near the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Digna Roy, 44, was a resident of Santo Domingo, and had come to New York last week to visit an eye doctor, her daughter said.
American Airlines Flight 587 crashed after raining debris on the Rockaways section of Queens, initially raising the specter of another terrorist attack.
Authorities said early signs pointed to an accident, basing their assessment partly on communications heard on the cockpit voice recorder. But they did not rule out sabotage or other causes.
"We're not going to exclude that possibility until the investigation goes much further than this," George Black, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.
Investigators still had not found the flight data recorder -- the plane's other "black box" -- which tracks speed and actions of the engine and instruments.
"The communications from the cockpit were normal up until the last few seconds before the crash," said NTSB head Marion Blakey.
All 260 people aboard the European-made Airbus A300 were killed, the airline said.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Tuesday that 262 bodies had been recovered. On Monday, Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Dunne said 265 bodies had been recovered, including a man found holding a baby. Dunne did not give details on how many people might have died on the ground. Six to nine people in the Belle Harbor neighborhood were missing, he said.
With the help of klieg lights, the recovery continued through the night as firefighters and dogs went through the rubble.
The crash happened two months after two hijacked planes -- one an American Airlines jet -- leveled the World Trade Center, leaving more than 4,000 missing or dead.
Monday's crash initially renewed terrorism fears. The Empire State Building was evacuated, and bridges, tunnels and all three of the New York area's major airports were closed for a time.
Giuliani said he spoke to President Bush from the scene.
"He said, 'New York City is really being tested. It's a shame.' I said, 'Mr. President, New York City is up to the test."'
Witnesses reported hearing an explosion and seeing an engine, a large chunk of a wing and other debris falling from the sky as the plane came down.
"I thought we were being bombed, because I didn't see the plane," said Janet Barasso, in her home a block from where the plane crashed. "I looked out the window and saw a big ball of flame and smoke."
But if there was an explosion on the plane -- and many witnesses heard one -- it was probably caused by a mechanical failure, investigators said.
There have been documented failures involving the family of CF6 General Electric engines on the plane, though none involved fatalities. The Federal Aviation Administration warned just last month that its own study of problems with these engines indicates a need for tougher, mandatory inspections of possibly worn parts.
The NTSB warned separately less than a year ago that an in-flight failure of these engines could send hot metal fragments tearing through important control systems or fuel lines -- and could cause a plane to crash.
Eleven houses were destroyed or seriously damaged. In some cases, the siding was melted off the homes. Dozens of people were hospitalized after responding to the inferno.
Mark Shorr, whose house was severely damaged, grabbed his daughter and ran when he heard the explosion.
"The whole house started to shake," he said. "I looked out the door and all I saw was the color of pumpkin, this dark orange."
Rockaway residents like Shorr struggled to understand how their neighborhood could be hit again so soon after Sept. 11. The neighborhood lost scores of residents, including firefighters and financial services workers, in the Trade Center catastrophe.
"Just on the heels of one horror, another," said Fern Liberman, who lived a few blocks from the crash site.
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