Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"We Have Ruled Out Terrorism" Part III

Well, what do you know? Yesterday, we had the "head of airline safety" saying they had recovered the "recording device," but it was so badly damaged that he thought they would be unable to retrieve information.

Now, the "head of the Greek airline safety committee" says they didn't really find the recording device, because "the internal componenets were ejected." From Associated Press:

ATHENS, Greece - Officials on Tuesday said they had found only the exterior container of the cockpit voice recorder from a Cypriot airliner crash that killed 121 people, hampering investigative efforts into the accident's cause.

The device's internal components were ejected from the container when the plane crashed into a mountainous region north of Athens on Sunday, said Akrivos Tsolakis, the head of the Greek airline safety committee.

"The only fortunate event in the investigation is that we have the flight data recorder," Tsolakis said, adding that the box would be flown to Paris on Wednesday for decoding.

He said a group of investigators would search for the rest of the voice recorder. He said American experts, including a representative of the plane's manufacturer, were providing assistance.

The voice recorder picks up any conversation inside the cockpit but records only the last 30 minutes of sound. Because the airplane appeared to have been flying disabled for several hours, it wasn't clear how useful any recovered conversations would be for investigators.

Tsolakis said the bodies of the plane's Cypriot co-pilot and one of the flight attendant were found next to the wreckage of the cockpit.

Athens' chief coroner Fillipos Koutsaftis said autopsies conducted on the first six bodies identified from the crash showed they had been alive when the jetliner crashed, though it wasn't known if they were conscious when it crashed.

The Helios Airways Boeing 737-300, with six crew and 115 passengers, plunged 34,000 feet into a mountainous area near the village of Grammatiko, 25 miles north of Athens.

Koutsaftis and his team of coroners had carried out about 13 autopsies by Tuesday morning. They had only released the results of the first six autopsies and were preparing to examine the body of co-pilot Pambos Haralambous.

In Cyprus, police raided the offices of Helios Airways in the coastal city of Larnaca, near the international airport.

A search warrant was issued "to secure ... documents and other evidence which could be useful for the investigation into possible criminal acts," Cyprus' deputy presidential spokesman Marios Karoyian said.

Investigators also were trying to determine why the pilot was not in his seat shortly before the crash.

Searchers were still looking for three bodies, including the plane's German pilot, fire officials said. Cypriot authorities identified him as Marten Hans Jurgen, 50, from Berlin.