Data recorder from Peru plane crash found
The missing flight data recorder from a Peruvian airliner that crash-landed last week has been recovered, turned in by a man who scavenged it from the wreckage, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Cesar Arroyo told The Associated Press that the man, Cesar Cabello, had taken the data recorder home but handed it over to civil aviation investigators Monday in exchange for a $500 reward posted by TANS Peru airlines.
"The box was opened but apparently had not suffered any alteration, (and) the optic fiber it contained hadn't been damaged," Arroyo said by telephone from Pucallpa, the jungle city near where the flight went down in a marsh, killing 40 people.
The flight data recorder is expected to be key in determining whether wind shear caused by a sudden, violent hail storm was to blame for pushing the plane off course as it made its final descent to land, or whether there was pilot error. Arroyo said the recorder would be sent to the United States for analysis.
The pilot apparently aimed for a marsh a few miles from Pucallpa's airport to soften the impact, but the aircraft, carrying 98 people, broke apart in the landing, strewing pieces of fuselage as it skidded over the boggy ground.
Peru was celebrating a national religious holiday Tuesday; civil aviation and TANS officials could not be reached for comment.
A day after last Tuesday's crash, investigators found the cockpit voice recorder. But hundreds of local residents looted the accident site Thursday while soldiers in charge of securing the area watched impassively.
The plane had carried a cash shipment of more than $760,000, of which only about $424,000 had been recovered and returned to the state-run Banco de la Nacion, Arroyo said.
"We do not know what happened to the rest of the money. It could be it is stolen or missing," he said, adding that authorities had given up their search for the money at the accident site but that a criminal investigation was continuing.
The crash of TANS Peru Flight 204 was the world's fifth major airline accident in August, making it the deadliest month for airline disasters in three years.
At least six foreigners died ¡ª three Americans, an Australian, a Colombian and a Spaniard.
A Peruvian passenger died over the weekend of cardiac arrest associated with skull fractures from the accident, raising the death toll to 40. The woman's 1-year-old son, whom she protected from flames that engulfed the cabin after the plane hit the ground, was among 58 survivors.
Two weeks ago, 160 people died when a Colombian-registered West Caribbean charter went down in Venezuela. Two days earlier, 121 people died when a Cyprus-registered Helios Airways Boeing plunged into the mountains north of Athens. There also was a deadly plane crash in Italy in August that killed 16.
In January 2003, a TANS twin engine Fokker 28 turbojet plowed into a mountain in Peru's northern jungle, killing all 42 passengers and four crew members.