Rescuers find black box of crashed Cuban plane

Fri Nov 5, 2010 7:06pm EDT
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GUASIMAL, Cuba (Reuters) - Rescue workers have found the flight data and voice recorder from the Aero Caribbean plane that went down in flames in central Cuba, killing all 68 people aboard, Cuban media said on Friday.

The so-called black box will be turned over to investigators trying to determine why the twin-engined ATR turboprop careened from the sky, trailing smoke and flames, witnesses said, as the pilot fought to keep it flying.

The plane crashed on Thursday near the small town of Guasimal in Sancti Spiritus province, 210 miles southeast of Havana.

According to state-run news service AIN, officials said the aircraft was completely destroyed by the impact and resulting explosion, and all the victims' bodies were badly burned.

A dozen of the bodies would be sent to Cuba's Institute of Legal Medicine for identification, it said.

Of the dead, 40 were Cubans, and the remaining 28 foreigners from 10 countries. The foreigners, many thought to be tourists, were almost all South Americans and Europeans, and also included one Japanese.

Witnesses said the plane was flying low and appeared unstable before it veered down.

Residents heard the explosion and saw the flames from the crash, the worst in Cuba in two decades, which shattered the tranquility of the rural town.

"It passed very low over my house, pouring out smoke and fire, a loud noise," said Kenia Diaz, who was buying bread when the plane passed above.   Continued...

<p>Rescue workers are seen beside the burning remains of an ATR-72-212 twin turboprop aircraft which crashed near Guasimal in central Cuba November 4, 2010. REUTERS/Escambray Daily/Courtesy of Cubadebate/Handout</p>