Cuban search teams have retrieved the flight data recorder from the passenger plane that crashed last Friday, killing all but two of the 113 people on board, Cuban state-run television announced on Thursday in the evening news broadcast. They had already found the cockpit voice recorder. Videos of the tragedy taken by passers-by and locals, plus their testimony had helped investigators locate the second recorder. Both, known as the “black box,” are crucial to explaining what went wrong with the 39-year-old plane which dived into fields south of Havana shortly after takeoff, bursting into flames.
The Boeing 737, leased by the little-known Mexican company Damojh to Cuba’s flagship carrier Cubana, had been destined for the eastern city of Holguin and 100 of the victims were Cuban. Seven Mexicans, two Argentines and two Sahrawis from a disputed area in the Western Sahara known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic also died in the tragedy. Cuba is leading the probe into the crash, one of the Caribbean island’s worst ever, together with Mexican and U.S. investigators.
Only two Cuban women have survived but are in a critical condition due to burns and other trauma, the director of the hospital where they are being attended has said. Mexico’s civil aviation authority said on Monday it had suspended Damojh’s operations while it made sure the firm adhered to regulations and gathered information to help investigators find the cause of the crash. Previous complaints over inadequate maintenance and safety measures have surfaced in recent days.