Searchers located the black boxes of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed in the sea off Lebanon last month killing 90 people, Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said on Saturday.
“The boxes have been found under the rear part of the fuselage” which was found on Saturday morning, the Lebanese minister told AFP.
“Lebanese army divers have gone down to retrieve them, but this operation will take time,” said Aridi.
“We have to be cautious because we must preserve the data contained in the boxes,” he added.
Aridi stressed special measures would be taken to bring to the surface the flight recorders in a way to avoid any damage that could be detrimental to the information they contain.
The minister also said he had been informed by the Syrian authorities that debris from the plane had been found in the Mediterranean Sea off the western city of Lattakia.
He said earlier that the search vessel, Ocean Alert, had located the rear sections of the aircraft’s cabin.
The sections found were between 10 and 12 metres (33 and 40 feet) long, and at a depth of 45 metres (150 feet) off Naameh, 12 kilometres (seven miles) south of Beirut, Aridi said.
The Boeing 737-800 went down before dawn on January 25, just minutes after take-off during stormy weather from Beirut airport. It was bound for Addis Ababa with 83 passengers and seven crew on board.
No survivors were found from Flight 409, and only 15 bodies have so far been recovered.
Aridi said he hoped other sections of the plane would soon be found, along with bodies of the remaining victims still thought to be strapped to their seats.
Of the 15 bodies found, nine were Lebanese, five Ethiopian and one Iraqi. Fifty-four Lebanese were on board the aircraft.
The Lebanese military said on Saturday that “pictures are being taken” of the located section of fuselage with a view to raising it.
Flight recorders are usually placed in the rear of commercial airliners.
Lebanese officials have said the captain was instructed by the control tower to change to a certain heading, but that the aircraft then took a different course.
Experts have told AFP that the stormy weather may not have been the only reason for the crash, and that the aircraft may have had engine or hydraulics problems.