Search teams locate black box of Ethiopian airliner that crashed last month off Lebanon

By Zeina Karam, AP
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lebanon: Black box of Ethiopian jet located

BEIRUT — Search crews have located the black box under parts of the tail of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last month, Lebanon’s transportation minister said Saturday.

The Boeing 737 crashed Jan. 25 minutes after takeoff from Beirut in a fierce thunderstorm. All 90 people on board died.

Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said the black box has been located at a depth of 150 feet (45 meters) off the coastal village of Naameh just south of Beirut airport.

“Its location has been determined and efforts are under way to find the best means to retrieve it,” he told The Associated Press.

Passenger jets carry two black boxes — a data flight recorder and a cockpit voice recorder.

A senior security official involved in the search told The Associated Press that crews received signals indicating the black box’s location under water, but it was unclear whether it was the data flight recorder, the cockpit voice recorder, or both.

Aridi said earlier that “significant parts” of the back end of plane had been found Saturday. He said Lebanese army divers and search teams were photographing the segments before their retrieval.

The black box is usually located in the rear of a plane, the area most likely to survive a crash intact.

Aridi cautioned, however, that retrieving the black box and flight data recorder, which are critical to determining the cause of the crash, was a “very complicated” and delicate operation that needs time.

Fifteen bodies have been recovered from the sea since the crash. No new bodies were found Saturday.

Search efforts were suspended earlier this week because of a storm and resumed in earnest Friday.

Meanwhile, at Beirut’s government hospital Saturday, health officials handed over to relatives the remains of one of the victims, 3-year-old Mohammed Kreik.

His family had earlier refused to take Kreik’s body for burial until the body of his father, who was also on the plane, was found.

Kreik was to be buried later Saturday in his south Lebanon hometown of Aita al-Shaab.

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