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Search team finds EgyptAir black box

Recovered debris of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May, 2016.
Recovered debris of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May, 2016. Egyptian Military/Handout via Reuters/File

Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the EgyptAir plane that crashed last month in the Mediterranean, Egypt's civil aviation authority said on Thursday. 

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The device was found broken into pieces but the salvage experts managed to retrieve the recorder's crucial memory unit, Egypt's civil aviation authority said.

Officials are preparing to transfer the recorder from a search vessel in the Mediterranean to Egypt for analysis. The cockpit voice recorder keeps track of conversations and other sounds in the pilots' cabin.

The breakthrough came hours after a deep-sea robot located pieces of the main body of the plane at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

Airbus said the flight recorders held the key to unlocking the mystery of why the plane went down with 66 people on board en route from Paris to Cairo nearly a month ago.

"The first photos of the wreckage do not allow to establish any scenario of the accident," an Airbus statement said.

"Only the black boxes could contribute to a full understanding of the chain of events which led to this tragic accident."

Investigators have said it is too soon to determine what caused flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo to crash on 19 May, although a terror attack has not been ruled out.

The search vessel John Lethbridge, equipped with an underwater robot, arrived in Egypt last week to begin searching an area around 290 kilometres north of the Egyptian coast.

The robot discovered pieces of the fuselage at "several sites", the Egyptian board of inquiry said late on Wednesday.

A source close to the investigation told AFP that the robot, operated by Mauritius-based Deep Ocean Search, had found "small fragments" of the plane.

Some wreckage had already been pulled out of the Mediterranean by search teams last month, along with belongings of passengers.

The "pings" emitted by the black boxes were detected by French survey ship Laplace on 1 June but the flight recorders' exact location has not yet been established.

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