Two black boxes that might explain why Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea have been located in 1,300 meters of water offshore from Beirut by the crew of the USS Ramage, Reuters reported Wednesday night. The boxes of recordings have not yet been retrieved, due to heavy seas.
The cause of Ethiopian Airlines crash off the coast of Lebanon remains a mystery as experts gather to solve the cause of the accident in which all 90 passengers may have died.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation in Beirut told VOA's Henok Fente today that the two black boxes that will help determine the cause of the early Monday morning crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 into the Mediterranean Sea.
"The first few days we had a high sea, a very bad weather," says Dr. Hamdi Chaouk Directorate General of the Lebanese Civil Aviation who heads the tri-partite investigation team from the United States, Ethiopia and Lebanon. "We have not found any of the flight data recorders therefore we cannot conclude the cause of the accident."
Lebanese transportation minister Gahzi Aridi told the Associated Press yesterday the Ethiopian Airlines pilot "flew the wrong way". This allegation was protested by Ethiopian Airlines CEO Girma Wake.
"I will only take it as an allegation," Girma said. "The investigation has not even started. We are at the search and rescue stage. Therefore it is premature for anybody to come up with any sort of assumption."
Aviations experts say until the two black boxes that record data in the plane are found and analyzed, no conclusion can be reached to determine the cause of the accident. Lebanese official Dr. Hamdi Chaouk says they have not found the black boxes yet.
"Nobody can come to a conclusion unless all the available data is analyzed. No one, no one should dare to say that we have a conclusion," Dr Chaouk said.
US Sends Help
The U.S. Navy's USS Ramage is on the scene to help with recovery of the fuselage and the black boxes that should have recorded the final minutes of cockpit conversation and the plane's flight path.
National Transportation Safety investigator Dennis Jones leads a team of technical advisors expected shortly in Beirut. Others accompanying Jones are from the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C. and advisors from the Seattle offices of Boeing aircraft, the manufacturers of the eight-year-old 737-800 aircraft.
Eighty passengers were on board the flight headed for Addis Ababa from a Beirut airport. The plane crashed within several minutes. Eyewitness report of an explosion that occurred before the craft hit the water.
Lebanese military and U.N. peacekeepers were at the shore to help with relief and recovery operations, however, no survivors have been found. Many of the Lebanese passengers being recovered from the water are being identified through DNA testing with relatives. An estimated 26 were Ethiopian nationals, many of them working in Beirut. The Ethiopian government declared a national day of mourning on Monday.