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March 28, 2017

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'Black box' of crashed Russian airplane located in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Searchers have found the cockpit voice recorder from a Russian passenger jet that smashed into the side of an Indonesian volcano, killing 45 people. The recording of comments by the plane's veteran pilots could help explain what caused the crash.

The "black box," collected from the bottom of a 500-meter (1,500-foot) ravine, was shattered and badly burned, Tatang Kurniadi, who heads the National Commission on Safety Commission, said Wednesday.

It had contained both a voice recorder and a flight data recorder, but the latter device remains missing, he said.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 — Russia's first passenger jet model since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago — was being demonstrated for potential buyers when it roared into Mount Salak at 800 kph (480 mph) one week ago and exploded.

Debris from the twin-engine jet rained down the near-vertical flank of the long-dormant volcano. It took days for search teams to find the black box, partly because it was so badly charred and hidden in heavy brush.

The box was actually painted orange, but the color was burned off in the crash, making it harder to find, said Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for the Search and Rescue agency. It was discovered early Tuesday and given to investigators later that day.

Indonesian experts, aided by their Russian colleagues, were analyzing the voice recorder in a lab in the capital, Jakarta, on Wednesday, said Mardjono Siswosuwarno, who is heading the investigation.

He said it appeared the memory module was still readable.

"It will take at least a week to download the data," said Siswosuwarno, adding the conversations would then have to be transcribed and translated.

The transcriptions will not be made public.

The Superjet is intended to help resurrect Russia's aerospace industry. The plane was being demonstrated for representatives of Indonesia's fast-expanding domestic airlines, which are among its biggest potential buyers.

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