Ethiopian Airlines crashed Boeing 737 'black box' found

2019-03-11 15:47

The doomed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft's "black box" of flight data and cockpit voice recorder have been found, the carrier said.

An airline official, however, told The Associated Press that the box was partially damaged and: "We will see what we can retrieve from it."

WATCH: Minute of silence for Ethiopia crash at UN talks as search operation continues

The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorisation to speak to the media.

Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all of its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as "an extra safety precaution" following the crash of one of its planes in which 157 people were killed, a spokesperson said on Monday, as Ethiopia marked a day of mourning.

Although it wasn't yet known what caused the crash of the new plane in clear weather outside Addis Ababa on Sunday, the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice, spokesperson Asrat Begashaw said.

Plane grounding

Ethiopian Airlines had been using five of the planes and awaiting delivery of 25 more.

READ: Ethiopia mourns crash victims as investigators seek answers

Some other airlines around the world were deciding to do the same. China's civilian aviation authority ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Max 8s, and Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways said it was temporarily grounding the two it operates.

Red Cross workers slowly picked through the widely scattered debris near the blackened crash crater, looking for the remains of 157 lives. A shredded book. A battered passport. Business cards in multiple languages. Heavy machinery dug for larger pieces of the plane.

Forensic experts from Israel had arrived to help with the investigation, said Ethiopian Airlines' spokesperson Asrat. Ethiopian authorities will lead the investigation into the crash, assisted by the US, Kenya and others.

"These kinds of things take time," Kenya's transport minister, James Macharia, told reporters.

People from 35 countries died in the Sunday morning crash six minutes after the plane took off from Ethiopia's capital en route to Nairobi.

Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward. The plane ploughed into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu.

"I heard this big noise," one local resident, Tsegaye Reta, told the AP on Monday. "The villagers said that it was a plane crash, and we rushed to the site. There was a huge smoke that we couldn't even see the plane. The parts of the plane were falling apart."

Kenya lost 32 people, more than any country. Relatives of 25 of the victims had been contacted, Macharia said, and taking care of their welfare was of utmost importance.

"Some of them, as you know, they are very distressed," he said. "They are in shock like we are. They are grieving."

Half-staff UN flag

Canada, Ethiopia, the US, China, Italy, France, Britain, Egypt, Germany, India and Slovakia all lost four or more citizens.

Leaders of the United Nations, the UN refugee agency and the World Food Program announced that colleagues had been on the plane. The UN migration agency estimated that 19 UN-affiliated employees were killed.

Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and some had been on their way to a large UN environmental conference set to begin on Monday in Nairobi. The UN flag at the event flew at half-staff.

The crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet of the same Boeing model in Indonesian seas last year, killing 189 people. The crash was likely to renew questions about the 737 Max 8, the newest version of Boeing's popular single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world's most common passenger jet.

Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about Sunday's disaster.

The Ethiopian plane was delivered to the airline in November. The jet's last maintenance was on February 4, and it had flown just 1 200 hours.

The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had long been chaotic. It also was a serious blow to state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, which has expanded to become the continent's largest and best-managed carrier and turned Addis Ababa into the gateway to Africa.

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Read more on:    ethiopia  |  east africa  |  plane crashes  |  air travel
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