Egypt: Black box of crashed plane found, pulled out of sea

FILE -- This August 21, 2015 file photo shows an EgyptAir Airbus A320 with the registration SU-GCC taking off from Vienna International Airport, Austria. Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said Wednesday, June 1, 2016 that a French ship has picked up signals from deep under Mediterranean Sea, presumed to be from black boxes of the EgyptAir Airbus A320 with the registration SU-GCC that crashed last month, killing all 66 passengers and crew on board. (AP Photo/Thomas Ranner, File)

CAIRO (AP) — The cockpit voice recorder of the doomed EgyptAir plane that crashed last month killing all 66 people on board has been found and pulled out of the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt’s investigation committee said on Thursday.

The development raises hopes that investigators would find clues as to the cause of the May 19 crash.

The Egyptian committee said the so-called black box — one of the two on board the plane — has been damaged but that the vessel searching for the wreckage managed to safely pull the “memory unit which is the most important in the recorder.”

The recorder was retrieved in “several stages,” the committee said, and is currently being transferred from the vessel, the John Lethbridge, which pulled it out, to the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. Once on shore, it will be handed over to the members of the committee who will unload and analyze the data.

Thursday’s announcement comes a day after the committee said the vessel John Lethbridge, which is operated by U.S. company Deep Ocean Search that was contracted by the government to join the search for the plane debris and flight recorders, has spotted and obtained images from the wreckage of the EgyptAir plane.

The EgyptAir Airbus A320 was en route to Cairo from Paris when it crashed on May 19 between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian coast, killing all 66 people and crew.

The cause of the crash remains unclear. No terror group has claimed responsibility for bringing the plane down.

The aircraft has two black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, which has yet to be found.

On Sunday, Egyptian investigators said time was running out in the search for the black boxes and that nearly two weeks remain before the batteries on them expire and they stop emitting signals.

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