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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 15:58 GMT
Hunt for clues in Turkish crash
Wreckage of plane
The plane crashed shortly before it was due to land

Investigators into a deadly air crash in Turkey have found the two "black box" recorders as they try to determine the cause of the accident.

The 57 people on the Atlasjet McDonnell Douglas MD-83 jet - all Turkish - died when it crashed in south-west Turkey at the end of a flight from Istanbul.

Debris was scattered over the area but a large section of fuselage was intact.

Officials said that weather conditions were not bad and that the plane had no known technical problems.

Baby girl

The Atlasjet flight disappeared from radar screens at about 0136 local time (2326 GMT) after the pilot had asked for permission to land at Isparta airport.

The pilot was quoted as saying: "Isparta tower, we are inbound" to which the tower replied: "Understood, Atlasjet. Continue to approach."

I keep thinking they'll appear from the site, it is difficult to accept that they are gone
Cengiz Dincer,
friend of crash victims

The wreckage was discovered five hours later in a mountainous area called Turbe Tepe (Shrine Peak) about 12km (7.5 miles) from Isparta airport.

Isparta Governor Semsettin Uzun said it was "impossible to understand how it ended up there".

Rescuers found wreckage and personal belongings strewn over a wide area and although part of the fuselage was intact, it was quickly obvious there were no survivors.

The initial death toll was 56 but a 45-day-old baby girl was later listed among the passengers.

Also among the dead was noted nuclear physics professor Engin Arik.

Cordoned off

Earth-moving equipment has cleared a path to the site to allow rescue teams to move in.

The "black boxes" - the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder - have both been retrieved.

Map showing route

Atlasjet chief executive Tuncay Doganer said the cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

"There was no rain, snowfall or storm at the plane's destination. There were no technical problems with the plane. The pilot was in communication with the tower until the plane disappeared," he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on television that the transport minister had told him the plane may have clipped a hill.

"They suspect the plane's tail hit a hilltop and that the aircraft fell on its fuselage with the force of the impact," Mr Erdogan said.

About 300 soldiers helped cordon off the area as weeping relatives gathered for information.

One middle-aged woman cried: "Where are they? Where is my child?" as she urged police to let her pass.

Cengiz Dincer, who was also at the site, told Associated Press news agency his two friends were returning after a day trip to Istanbul.

"I keep thinking they'll appear from the site, it is difficult to accept that they are gone," he said.

Relatives also gathered at Istanbul airport.

The city's deputy governor, Cafer Yildiz, said: "They have great pain. This is a terrible thing, we should all support them."

Atlasjet is a privately owned, low-fare Turkish airline run by two Turkish tour operators, Etstur and Oger Tours.

Atlasjet has 15 planes for domestic and international flights.

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In pictures: Turkey plane crash
30 Nov 07 |  In Pictures
Air disasters timeline
16 Sep 07 |  Special Reports
Country profile: Turkey
23 Oct 07 |  Country profiles


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