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07.02.2010 International

Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon

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Lebanese search teams have retrieved a flight recorder from the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed in the Mediterranean, officials say.

The Boeing 737 crashed on 25 January, moments after take-off from Beirut airport during a fierce thunderstorm, killing all 90 people on board.

An army official said the recorder was taken to a naval base in Beirut to be handed over to crash investigators.

The search continues for the other recorder, and for bodies at the site.

Difficult search
Passenger jets carry two recorders - a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder - commonly referred to as "black boxes".

Lebanon's Transport Minister, Ghazi Aridi, announced on Saturday that searchers had located the recorders at a depth of 150ft (45m) off the coastal village of Naameh, just south of Beirut airport.

Since then, searchers had also located the plane's rear wings and cockpit, and work was continuing to bring them to the surface, the army officer said.

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 recorder could shed light on why the pilot failed to respond to the control tower's request, even though he acknowledged their commands.

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

At least 15 bodies have been recovered since the crash, but stormy weather has hampered searchers several times in the last two weeks.

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