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China Plane Crash: Second ‘Black Box’ Is Found, Officials Say

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Search crews have found the second of two flight recorders from a passenger plane that abruptly plunged to earth in southern China, killing 132 people, officials said on Sunday, nearly a week after the disaster.

Flight recorders, which collect crucial information, including the pilots’ communications and data on the plane’s engines and performance, could help explain why China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735 lost more than 20,000 feet in altitude in just over a minute before crashing into a hillside in the region of Guangxi. Chinese authorities confirmed on Saturday what had been all but certain: that none of the people aboard the Boeing 737 had survived.

A brief bulletin from Chinese state television said the second recorder had been found, according to the command post for the search effort.

“Experts confirmed that this was the second black box,” the report said. Although called “black boxes,” flight recorders are usually brightly colored. The report said that any other details would be released at a news conference later Sunday.

Aviation officials and experts have warned that both recorders could be badly damaged from the crash, which would make it more difficult to retrieve their data. Search crews are also trying to recover debris from the plane, which could take weeks, if not longer.

In recent days, workers have recovered parts of the plane’s engines, wings and main landing gear, along with other pieces of wreckage. Officials said they had determined the plane’s main impact point and that most of the debris was concentrated within a radius of 30 yards and a depth of about 20 yards under the ground. But search teams also found a four-foot-long piece of debris, likely from the plane, more than six miles from the main crash site.

The recovery of structural parts could help investigators determine how the plane broke apart by using metallurgical analysis, Mike Daniel, an industry consultant and former accident investigator for the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an interview. “They should piece as many parts as possible to try to reconstruct the aircraft,” he said, though he acknowledged that this would be “nearly impossible” given the impact with which the plane hit the ground.

Search teams on Wednesday found what officials said was probably the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and sent it to Beijing for analysis. The other flight recorder, presumably the one whose recovery was announced on Sunday, is used to store information about the plane’s mechanical performance and movements.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that the storage unit has been damaged,” Zhu Tao, a safety official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, told reporters when the first recorder was found.

For days, hundreds of searchers in the isolated hills of Teng County in Guangxi appeared not to have given up on finding survivors, though the chances of finding anyone alive seemed minute. Heavy rains have inundated the area, raising the risk of mudslides. Workers have used pumps to drain the sodden earth.

Live television footage from the area on Friday showed workers wearing medical masks and white personal protective suits as they scoured the steep, muddy terrain.

On Friday, several Chinese media outlets mistakenly reported that searchers had found the second flight recorder. Xinhua, the official news agency, later said that was untrue. Search crews had found telltale pieces of orange-colored fragments that might be from the recorder, and they were scanning the ground inch by inch to find the recorder, Chinese television news reported.

The Chinese government regards disasters like the Flight 5735 crash as potential sources of public anger at officials, and it has moved quickly to control the messaging around the crash. State media reports have emphasized statements of concern from China’s top leaders and the quick mobilization of hundreds of firefighters, paramilitary troops and other workers in the search.

In past disasters, such as a high-speed rail accident in 2011, survivors and family members of victims galvanized to protest the government and demand information and redress. This time, though, relatives of the people who were on the flight have been swaddled in official security and oversight and largely kept away from reporters.

Liu Yi, Joy Dong, Claire Fu and Li You contributed research.



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BP scales back green targets as profits hit record

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Andrew Griffith, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the windfall tax struck the “right balance” between helping families with the cost of living and securing the UK’s energy supplies. He said its aim was to encourage re-investment of the sector’s profits back into the economy



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Landmark national security trial of Hong Kong democracy activists begins. Here's what you need to know

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Some were seasoned politicians and veteran protest leaders. Others were academics, unionists and health care workers. They hailed from different generations and held a range of political views, but were brought together by what they say was a shared commitment to Hong Kong’s democratic future.



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Texas deputies stop driver hauling 13 illegal immigrants wearing camouflage clothing

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Deputies in Zavala County, Texas, caught nearly two dozen illegal immigrants during four separate traffic stops early Sunday, including 13 migrants smuggled in a pickup truck while cloaked in camouflage clothing, authorities said.

In total, the sheriff’s office said it apprehended 22 illegal immigrants, while 10 others fled after bailing from the vehicles.

In one case, the sheriff’s office said a deputy stopped a black Chevy pickup for a traffic violation on U.S. 57 east of La Pryor. As the deputy went to speak with the driver, he spotted multiple individuals wearing camouflage clothing lying in the bed of the truck.

The deputy then found more individuals inside the vehicle with the driver, who claimed they were all her cousins, according to officials.

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Illegal immigrants dressed in camouflage were being smuggled into the country by a Texas woman on Highway 57, police said.

Illegal immigrants dressed in camouflage were being smuggled into the country by a Texas woman on Highway 57, police said. (Zavala County Sheriff’s Office)

The driver, Samantha Renee Dela Fuente of San Antonio, was charged with smuggling, FOX29 San Antonio reported. Officials said the 13 undocumented individuals were turned over to Uvalde Border Patrol.

In a second incident, a deputy pulled over a Chrysler van for a traffic violation. When the deputy exited his cruiser to approach the vehicle, it sped away and prompted a short pursuit.

Deputies found 13 illegal immigrants dressed in camouflage in a pickup truck.

Deputies found 13 illegal immigrants dressed in camouflage in a pickup truck. (Zavala County Sheriff’s Office)

The driver eventually bailed, and three illegal immigrants were apprehended. Deputies said five other undocumented individuals had fled the scene.

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Deputies said two other illegal immigrants were found hidden in the back of an SUV during a traffic stop on U.S. 57 east of Batesville. The driver had bailed and fled.

Deputies arrested the driver, who was not immediately identified, and turned over the illegal immigrants to Border Patrol officials.

Deputies arrested the driver, who was not immediately identified, and turned over the illegal immigrants to Border Patrol officials. (Zavala County Sheriff’s Office)

A fourth traffic stop on a blue Chevy Malibu resulted in another short chase until the driver and other individuals bailed from the vehicle into the brush at the West Wind Ranch, the sheriff’s office said.

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Deputies apprehended three individuals while about five other suspected illegal immigrants escaped.

All the apprehended illegal immigrants were turned over to Border Patrol, the sheriff’s office said.



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