Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ethiopian crash jet flight recorders found off Lebanon

The "black box" flight recorders from a passenger jet which crashed off the coast of Lebanon two days ago have been found, officials say.

A search team located the recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines flight just over 1.3km (0.8 miles) underwater, 10km west of the capital, Beirut.

The search team is now trying to retrieve them, Lebanese security officials said.

All 90 people on board the flight are presumed dead following the crash.

At least 24 bodies have been pulled from the sea so far.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409, bound for Addis Ababa, crashed into the Mediterranean minutes after take-off from Beirut at 0237 (0037 GMT) during a severe thunderstorm on Monday.

Witnesses said they saw the plane plummet into the sea in flames.

The international search operation has included Lebanese navy troops and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) as well as US navy destroyer USS Ramage and a civilian vessel from Cyprus with sonar equipment.

The cause of the crash is not yet known, however Lebanese officials have said the jet did not fly in the direction instructed by the Beirut control tower.

The officials said the pilot had been asked to correct his course, but turned in the opposite direction.

Seven crew and 83 passengers were on board the Boeing 737-800. Most were Lebanese or Ethiopian.

Marla Pietton, the wife of the French ambassador in Beirut, was among those on board.


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