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Kenya Airways Black Boxes Found

Investigators have found the black boxes from a Kenya Airways jet that crashed into ocean waters Sunday evening with 179 people aboard.

Divers will try to recover the black boxes, which record cockpit conversations and mechanical data, later Thursday. The dive was supposed to take place earlier in the day but was delayed by morning coordination meetings between Ivorian, Kenya Airways and Airbus personnel.

Since the Ivory Coast lacks the equipment to conduct the salvage effort, Kenya is sending 21 divers to assist. Senegal is transporting a barge, diving gear and hoisting equipment to the scene. French teams are also helping in the search and the investigation.

Rescuers located the data recorder using special equipment flown in from France to detect emergency signals emitted by the black box units.

The black boxes might contain crucial information on the final moments of Flight 431, which crashed just one minute after taking off from Abidjan's airport on Sunday evening. The Airbus-310 was headed to Lagos, Nigeria when it went down with 168 passengers and 11 crew members on board. Ten people survived and 86 bodies have been recovered.

The government-owned Fraternite Matin newspaper reported Thursday that the main wreckage of the plane had been found in 140 feet of water, about 2 miles off shore, a relatively shallow depth. However, Kenya Airways Technical Director Steve Clarke warned that the quality of the recordings might be poor.

"You will appreciate the tape has spent several days in salt water and that always raises a question as to how good it's going to read," Clarke said at a news briefing in Nairobi, Kenya.

As the recovery mission continues, some crash survivors have criticized the efforts of rescue teams immediately after the crash. One man who survived said that more could have been saved if emergency teams arrived more quickly. A few survivors clung to pieces of wreckage for hours before being rescued, and at least one swam to shore. Many were saved by volunteers trawling the waters in their own boats.

Ivorian officials said the country had responded properly.

"I can assure you that all navy and military forces were mobilized within one-half hour" of the crash, said Jean Kouassi Abonouan, director of Ivory Coast's civil aviation authority.

Most of the passengers were thought to be Nigerians. Two Americans were also on board.

Six bodies have been released to next-of-kin, Clarke said. One was being returned to the United States, one to India, one to the Netherlands and one was remaining in Ivory Coast.

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