Crashed Ethiopian jet’s second black box found – By Rouba Kabbara (AFP)

February 10th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

BEIRUT — Divers retrieved on Wednesday the cockpit voice recorder from an Ethiopian jet that crashed off the Lebanese coast last month as officials warned against speculation about the cause of the disaster that killed 90 people.

“We have recovered the second black box from the Ethiopian plane and it will be handed over to investigators in France,” Aridi told AFP.

He added, however, that divers were still trying to recover a key part of the box that was missing.

“We handed the box over to the investigation committee and were told it was missing a crucial piece,” he said. “Our divers are continuing attempts to find and recover that piece.”

The Lebanese navy retrieved the first black box, the flight data recorder, on Sunday and sent it to the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA), France’s accident investigation agency.

A BEA spokesperson in Paris said the data retrieved from the box was being examined.

The Lebanese government said it was still in the dark as to what caused the January 25 crash and dismissed as inaccurate reports of pilot error.

“We have not yet received the official report, and all that is being reported as data from the black boxes is inaccurate,” Information Minister Tareq Mitri said on Wednesday.

“It is not acceptable that hypotheses be spun up every time the technical team secures a piece of information,” Mitri added.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 plunged into the Mediterranean just minutes after take-off from Beirut airport during a fierce storm.

The Boeing 737-800 was bound for Addis Ababa with 83 passengers and seven crew on board. No survivors were found and searchers have been struggling to recover bodies as most victims are believed to be still strapped to their seats.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether the jet exploded while airborne or after it hit the water. Officials have said there will be no answers until the data from the black boxes is analysed.

Lebanon has ruled out sabotage, and officials have said the captain was instructed by the control tower to change to a certain heading before the aircraft took a different course.

But Ethiopian Airlines said on Wednesday that it could not rule out any factor, including sabotage.

“Ethiopian Airlines does not rule out all possible causes including the possibility of sabotage until the final outcome of the investigation is known,” the company said in a statement released in Addis Ababa.

More than 23 bodies and body parts had been found by Sunday. The body of the wife of France’s ambassador to Lebanon, Marla Sanchez Pietton, who was on board Flight 409, was identified on Wednesday, the French embassy said. The remains of the Ethiopian pilot were also identified.

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