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Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Published at 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Crash jet's black box found

The planecrashed in heavy storms

Air accident experts have recovered the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from the wreckage of the jet that crashed in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Watch a report from the BBC's Matt Frei, including amateur footage of the plane's dramatic landing
Investigations into the cause of the crash continued as Taiwan officials hinted that pilot error may have contributed to the accident.

The plane burst into flames and flipped upside down after clipping a wing on the ground as it landed in a tropical storm at Hong Kong's new Chek Lap Kok airport.

The crash killed two people and injured 212, but 101 walked away unhurt, some after hanging upside down in their seat belts for hours.

[ image:  ]
The black box recorders were retrieved as investigators from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States began dismantling the plane on Tuesday.

Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department plans to send the recorders to the UK Department of Transport's air accident investigation branch.

It said it would move the wreckage on Wednesday from the shoulder of the airport's southern runway to a plot next to an aircraft maintenance hangar.

Pilot error

In Taiwan, government aviation officials hinted that pilot error was to blame in the crash of Flight CI642 which was en route from Bangkok to Taipei.

They said cross winds were too strong for a safe landing.

[ image: Cancelled flights have forced passengers to sleep at the airport]
Cancelled flights have forced passengers to sleep at the airport
The Taiwanese co-pilot has reported that he shouted to his Italian captain to abort the landing at the last moment and there may have been a misunderstanding over the strength of the winds.

A Hong Kong Government spokesman said there were 11 landings in the two hours before the accident, including one just six minutes before the crash.

However there were also six missed approaches and two diversions during the same two-hour period.

China Airlines said about 20 of those on board were seriously injured and two remain in a critical condition in hospital.

US investigators

US investigators who arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday included personnel from the US National Transportation Safety Board and plane manufacturer Boeing Co.

A Hong Kong government spokesman said the initial investigation would take two to three weeks.

The crash has caused severe disruption to flights using Chek Lap Kok, where one runway is still closed.

The police have been called in to deal with angry passengers whose flights have been cancelled or delayed.

Thousands of people have been stranded at the airport, some for nearly 30 hours.

Twenty-four of Tuesday's scheduled flights were cancelled - on Monday 71 services were shelved.

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