Investigators find black box from Air India crash

INVESTIGATORS searching for clues as to what caused India’s worst air disaster in more than a decade recovered the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the charred remains of an Air India flight.

The crash on Saturday of the Boeing 737-800, which overshot a hilltop runway in southern India and plunged over a cliff, killed 158 people. Only eight survived, many of them by jumping from the wreckage just before it burst into flames.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported the black boxes were recovered by investigators sifting through twisted wreckage of the plane.

Investigators used cutters to search for the black boxes of the aircraft, which was scattered along the hillside just outside Mangalore’s Bajpe airport.

A four-member US forensic team also arrived in India to help in the investigation, said Harpreet Singh, an Air India spokeswoman. She refused to speculate on the cause of the crash.

Dozens of crestfallen relatives arrived yesterday on Air India flights from Dubai and the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Kerala to take back home the bodies of their loved ones.

Arvind Jadhav, Air India chairman and managing director, said 146 of the 158 bodies have been identified and were being handed over to the relatives for funeral.

Air India spokesman K Swaminathan said all eight survivors were still hospitalised yesterday.

After the first few minutes of the crash, there were no more survivors to be found.

Instead, scores of burned bodies were pulled from the blackened tangle of aircraft cables, twisted metal, charred trees and mud at the crash site. Many of the dead were strapped into their seats, their bodies burned beyond recognition.

The crash was the deadliest in India since the November 1996 midair collision between a Saudi airliner and a Kazakh cargo plane near New Delhi that killed 349 people.

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