BEIRUT (AP) – Search crews have located the tail of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed into the Mediterranean last month and are getting closer to finding the plane’s black box, Lebanon’s transportation minister said Saturday. The Boeing 737 crashed Jan. 25 minutes after takeoff from Beirut in a fierce thunderstorm. All 90 people on board died.
An army statement said crews that located parts of the wreckage Saturday were working on photographing them before retrieval.
Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said signals from the black box were getting clearer. The black box is usually located in the rear of a plane, the area most likely to survive a crash.
“We are much closer to the main target,” Aridi told reporters.
Aridi said the rear of the plane was located 150 feet (45 meters) deep off the coastal village of Naameh just south of Beirut airport. He said Lebanese army divers and search teams were photographing the area in an effort to find the black box and bodies. He cautioned, however, that retrieving the black box and flight data recorder, which are critical to determining the cause of the crash, was a “very complicated” and delicate operation that needs time.
Fifteen bodies have been recovered from the sea since the crash.
Search efforts were suspended earlier this week because of a storm and resumed in earnest Friday.
Meanwhile, at Beirut’s government hospital Saturday, health officials handed over to relatives the remains of one of the victims, 3-year-old Mohammed Kreik. His family had earlier refused to take Kreik’s body for burial until the body of his father, who was also on the plane, was found.
Kreik was to be buried later Saturday in his south Lebanon hometown of Aita al-Shaab.