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Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 22:56 GMT
Diver dies in air crash search

body Nine bodies were recovered on Saturday


A diver has died during the search for bodies in the wreckage of a Kenya Airways plane which crashed into the sea off Ivory Coast.

French divers recovered nine more bodies on Saturday from the wreckage of the jet, nearly a week after it crashed with 179 people aboard, officials and divers said.

But the operation turned into further tragedy when a Kenyan navy diver died and two colleagues were taken to a decompression chamber for treatment.

divers Divers recovered flight data recorder on Friday
"Nine bodies were brought up today," Ivory Coast's Director of Civil Aviation, Jean Kouassi Abonouan, told state television on Saturday.

A total of 169 people died in the crash and the bodies of 74 remain to be found. There were 10 survivors.

The plane's shattered fuselage is lying 47 metres (155ft) below the sea, less than 2km (about 1.5 miles) from the shore.

Mr Abonouan said divers had yet to locate the Airbus A-310's cockpit voice recorder after the flight data recorder was recovered on Friday.

The two "black box" recorders would normally provide clues as to what caused the plane to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean minutes after take-off from Abidjan on the night of 30 January.

Black box controversy

Confirming media reports of controversy over where data from the flight recorder already retrieved from the seabed should be processed, Mr Abonouan said Ivorian authorities would decide later.

plane The plane was heading for Nairobi via Lagos
"No formal decision has been taken yet," he said. Control of the recorders could be handed to Kenyan, to the plane's manufacturers or to neutral experts, he said.

Kenyan officials say Kenya Airways opposes any plans to have the data analysed in France, where the plane's manufacturer, Airbus Industrie, is based in the city of Toulouse.

"Kenya Airways is absolutely opposed to the black box going to France," a senior Kenya Airways engineer is reported to have told Reuters news agency in Abidjan.

The airline wants the data decoding to be handled on "neutral ground", possibly in the United States, Canada or Germany, he said.

Search suspended

Mr Abonouan said the under-sea search had been called off, perhaps until Monday, to allow divers to recover after the death of the Kenyan.

Kenya Airways - survivors and victims
169 people believed to have died
Ten survived, including three Nigerians, a Rwandan, a Gambian and a Frenchman
Victims believed to include Kenyans, Britons, Americans, Canadians, Dutch, Japanese, Italians, and Nigerians
About a dozen French amateur divers and the Kenyans set out on Saturday to search for more bodies and the black box recorder.

The Kenyans, flown in from Nairobi, were joining the underwater search for the first time.

"The first two Kenyans went down and the accident took place after five minutes at the bottom," a French diver said. "One diver came up to give the alert. The third Kenyan went down and came up straight away."

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but one of the Kenyans said he saw blood in the dead man's mask.

The two Kenyans taken to a decompression chamber were released later after their condition improved, Ivorian marine officials said.

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See also:
01 Feb 00 |  Sci/Tech
Black box: Key to disaster investigations
02 Feb 00 |  Africa
Ivory Coast concedes lack of equipment
31 Jan 00 |  Africa
Timeline: African air disasters
04 Feb 00 |  Africa
Divers find Kenya Airways black box
01 Feb 00 |  Africa
Victims' families to fly to Abidjan
31 Jan 00 |  Africa
Africa plane crash search abandoned
31 Jan 00 |  Africa
Anguish of air crash families
31 Jan 00 |  Africa
Airbus' reliability record
30 Jan 00 |  Africa
Kenyan plane crashes into sea

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