Italian Navy frogmen have recovered the black box flight recorder of the Alitalia airliner which crashed into the sea near Palermo on December the 23rd.
SV divers in rubber life raft and body in water
SV divers sitting on rubber boat
SV underwater scene around wreckage of aircraft (TWO SHOTS)
GV tail of aircraft, PAN divers swimming along fuselage (TWO SHOTS)
SV divers examine wreckage
SV divers in boat haul up item in plastic bag
SV & CU of 'black' box being pulled out of plastic bag. 'Recorder, do not open' visible on side
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Background: Italian Navy frogmen have recovered the black box flight recorder of the Alitalia airliner which crashed into the sea near Palermo on December the 23rd. A hundred and eight people died in the crash.
SYNOPSIS: The special Christmas flight plunged into the ocean short of the Palermo runway and sank to the seabed 52 metres (170 feet) below. It was found after three days of searching by naval ships using echo sounders. The divers planned to recover the bodies of about 80 passengers still strapped in their seats or trapped in the wreckage, and to find the black box flight recorder. Trawlers fishing nearby when the crash occurred rescued survivors, some of them unconscious and with their clothing torn. Among the dead were Italian migrant workers and their families returning to their homes in Sicily.
The cause of the crash is still unknown. Witnesses said the airliner had its flaps and undercarriage extended ready for landing, and all the passengers were strapped to their seats when it hit the choppy sea with one wing as it approached Palermo's seaside airport.
While the divers examined the wreckage, a recovery ship was summoned and experts studied the last radio messages between the DC-9 aircraft and the Palermo control tower.
The recovery of the black box flight recorder was expected to give further clues to the factors that caused the crash. While the evidence is studied, the cause of the disaster remains a matter for speculation. Some Italian newspapers quickly blamed the airport. Recalling an accident at Palermo six years ago in which 115 people died, they criticised the navigation and landing aids which have been classified by the International Airline Pilots' Federation as deficient.