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Seventh fatal accident involving DC-10

ST. LOUIS -- The crash of a DC-10 in Spain was the seventh time the McDonnell Douglas Corp. plane has been involved in a fatal accident, including three of the four worst catastrophes in aviation history.

McDonnell Douglas said it was sending a team of engineers to investigate Monday's crash, which killed at least 44 people.

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'At this point we're simply monitoring the media reports,' said Ray Deffry, spokesman at McDonnell Douglas headquarters in St. Louis. 'These crash investigations often take months before they reach a conclusion.

'We have no special information at this point. We simply cannot make a statement at this time.'

The plane was taking off from Malaga, Spain, for New York when it skidded across a traffic-filled highway and burst into flames.

'A team of engineers from Douglas Aircraft Co., our division which builds the plane, is preparing to go to Spain to assist in the investigation into the crash,' said Deffry. Douglas Aircraft is in Long Beach, Calif.

After the worst airplane accident in the United States, when 273 people died in a DC-10 crash at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on May 25, 1979, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded the plane for more than a month because of cracks in the engine-mounting assemblies.

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The DC-10 has been involved in three of the four worst accidents in aviation history, including the Chicago crash. An Air New Zealand plane crash in Antarctica in November 1979 killed 257 people. A Turkish Airlines DC-10 crashed at Paris on March 3, 1974, killing 346 people - the worst single-plane crash ever.

DC-10s also were involved in the Oct. 31, 1979, crash of a Western Airlines plane in heavy fog at the Mexico City Airport, killing 75 people, and the March 1, 1978, crash of a Continental Airlines flight in Los Angeles that killed three and injured 27 of 200 people aboard.

Last winter, a DC-10 leaving Logan International Airport slid off an icy runway into Boston Harbor runway and the nose of the plane split away from the fuselage. Several people were thrown into the water. Two men who had been seated in the front row and were never found were the only apparent fatalities.

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