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Data recorder of crashed plane recovered in Laos

– The flight data recorder from a Lao Airlines plane that crashed last month has been recovered from the Mekong River and the cockpit voice recorder has been located, officials said Friday.

The plane crashed Oct. 16 during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos. It struck a riverbank before plowing into the swift-running Mekong, killing 49 people.

The digital flight data recorder was recovered Thursday, said Yakua Lopangkao, director-general of Laos’ Department of Civil Aviation. He said on Friday that the divers were able to see the cockpit voice recorder but they have not been able to recover it.

He said earlier that the cockpit voice recorder was found but corrected that. He said the confusion was caused by a misreport of officials.

A cockpit voice recorder contains the conversations in the cockpit, while a flight data recorder logs technical data such as the plane’s altitude, speed and route.

Yakua said both devices – commonly known as black boxes – are needed for a thorough investigation.

“To be able to investigate the cause of the crash – whether it was because of technical errors or pilot errors – we need to retrieve the other black box, too,” he said by phone on Thursday. “Once we recover it, the investigation process can speed up.”

Strong currents and deep, muddy water in the Mekong have hampered searchers.

The airline said Wednesday that 47 bodies had been found and 43 had been identified.

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