ibnlive » World

Jun 19, 2007 at 12:55pm IST

Kenyan crash: Rescuers find black boxes

New Delhi: Two days after the Kenya airways plane crash, which killed all 114 people on board, rescue workers have found one of two black boxes - flight data recorders, which may shed light on the cause of the crash.

The Boeing 737-800 fell into densely forested swampland early on Saturday, minutes after leaving Douala for Nairobi in torrential rain. Fifteen Indians died in the plane crash.

Rescue workers used a mobile generator to pump away water to expose more of the wreckage, and retrieved one of the plane's black box recorders.

RESCUE OPERATION: Rescue workers used mobile generator to pump away water to expose more of wreckage.

The recorders contain a variety of information, including the plane's speed and altitude, and cockpit voice communications.

''We found it in the mud prefect of the nearby town of Vouri. I am not an expert and so I don't know what kind of data is on it, but the technicians on the scene said that it should have the information we need to figure out what happened,'' said Bernard Atebede, prefect of the nearby town of Vouri.

However, it was not clear whether it was the data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder, or what condition the device was in, Capt. Francis Ekosso of the coast guard said.

The initial investigation is focusing on a theory that the plane lost power in both engines but did not have enough altitude to glide back to the airport, a source close to the airline's investigation in Kenya, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

The wreckage was found along the plane's expected flight path, and procedures for losing all power call for the pilot to try to return to the airport along the same path.

A nosedive crash also is consistent with a plane stalling as a pilot desperately tries to coax the plane farther along the glide path.

At the crash site, debris lay scattered over a small area roughly the size of soccer field. Much of it, including some hanging from trees, was shredded beyond recognition. But smaller items were intact: a white tennis shoe, a black purse of braided leather, a length of orange-and-blue cloth perhaps worn as a skirt.

''It's a scene of horror,'' Atebede said. ''I saw things that should never be seen. It makes you realize the fragility of life.''

He said 20 bodies have been recovered, and DNA testing would be used to determine the identities of some.

Workers carried the bodies and body parts on stretchers for the 20-minute hike through the swamp to ambulances. Trees had been chopped down and placed over puddles to make the walk easier.

Among the 105 passengers on board was Nairobi-based Associated Press correspondent Anthony Mitchell, 39, who had been on assignment in the region. Nine crew members also were on board.

Initially, the search focused on the rugged, forested area near Lolodorf, about 140 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Douala. Sobakam said officials were led astray by an incorrect satellite signal, possibly emitted from the plane.

But fishermen living in the swampy mangroves near the airport reported hearing a loud sound at the time of the crash.

(With AP inputs)

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