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Word of the miraculous survivals fired up the hopes of some 2,000 relatives and friends of passengers who by now had reached the small town of Fujioka, 35 miles northeast of Mount Osutaka, to await the results of the search. But no one else was found alive.
Some relatives tired of the wait and, defying police orders, scrambled over the rocky terrain. Yoshiaki and Kuniko Miyajima reached the remnants of what seemed to be seat 12-K; it had been as signed to their son Takeshi, 9, who had been flying to visit an uncle. The couple prayed over the shattered seat. Several giant sumo wrestlers reached the wreck age, in which the wife and two children of their "stablemaster," or trainer, had died. Doctors who helped retrieve the bodies, many of which were horribly broken, also found some whose injuries might not have been fatal had help come more quickly. Contended one physician: "If the discovery had come ten hours earlier, we could have found more survivors."
What caused the disaster? The first and perhaps most significant clue was found the morning after the crash by the crew of a Japanese destroyer cruising in Sagami Bay. The sailors discovered floating on the waves a 15-ft. section of the 747's 35-ft.-high vertical tail fin. Further searching in the water turned up more than 30 other plane parts, most notably a 10-ft-long portion of the rudder assembly and a 104-lb. fiber-glass duct containing tubing and valves that had been attached to an auxiliary power unit in the tail section (see diagram).
A 747 cannot be flown without its entire tail fin, which helps stabilize the big craft, and can be flown only with great difficulty without the attached rudder, which is moved to alter the plane's heading, or horizontal direction. The pilot can vary the thrust of the engines and use ailerons, hinged sections of the plane's wings, to maintain altitude and make turns, although directional control is difficult.
The auxiliary power unit provides electricity and compressed air primarily for air conditioning and on-board controls when the craft is on the ground and the engines are not producing this power. The unit is also a backup for the surface controls, like the rudder, in flight. Some experts theorized last week that as the auxiliary system disintegrated it might have ruptured hydraulic lines in the tail, which, in turn, could have affected the aircraft's main controls.