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Swissair official says no sign of terrorist attack

GENEVA (Reuters) - A senior Swissair official said on Thursday there was no indication that its airliner which crashed with 229 passengers and crew aboard off Canada's east coast was a victim of terrorism.

Swissair chief financial officer Georges Schorderet told Reuters at Geneva's Cointrin airport, destination of Flight 111 en route from New York: ''There is no indication of a terrorist attack.''

Earlier, a Swissair statement issued in Zurich said the pilot had reported smoke in the cockpit and had attempted to make an emergency landing at Halifax airport.

Schorderet told a news conference that the SwissAir wide-bodied MD-11 had a good safety record. The aircraft had gone into service in August 1991 and was last serviced in August-September 1997, he said. It was in ''perfect working order and all services and checks had been made in accordance with our standards,'' he told reporters.

About 100 relatives of passengers were being counselled by 30 psychiatrists and medical staff as well as a pastor, priest and rabbi at a crisis centre set up at the airport.

Swissair officials declined to disclose the nationalities of the passengers or identify them in any way, saying that all families and next of kin had yet to be informed. ''Our main task now is to give support to family members,'' said Schorderet.


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