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Ethiopian jet's 2nd black box retrieved from sea

BEIRUT — Search teams on Wednesday retrieved the second black box belonging to the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed last month into the Mediterranean, but Lebanese officials said it was missing a key piece.

The Boeing 737 crashed on Jan. 25, just minutes after takeoff from Beirut during a fierce thunderstorm. All 90 people on board died.

Passenger jets carry two black boxes — a data flight recorder and a cockpit voice recorder. The data flight recorder was retrieved among the plane's wreckage on Sunday at a depth of about 150 feet (45 meters) off the coastal village of Naameh just south of Beirut airport.

It was flown to France for analysis on Monday.

A Lebanese senior security official said the cockpit voice recorder was retrieved Wednesday in the same area and would also be flown to France. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements to the media.

However, the state-run National News Agency quoted Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi as saying that the black box retrieved Wednesday was missing a vital piece. He said the army's marine commandos were currently searching for the missing piece near to where the recorder was discovered.

An army statement later said that only the base for the black box had been found and that its memory recorder was still missing.

The January crash prompted a search and rescue operation that included U.N. peacekeepers, Navy ship USS Ramage and a submarine. DNA samples were collected from relatives of the victims in Lebanon and Ethiopia to help identify bodies pulled out of the sea.

According to lists released after the crash, 23 Ethiopian passengers were on the plane as well as seven crew members. It was not clear if all the crew were Ethiopians. A British citizen, an Iraqi and a Syrian, as well as the wife of the French ambassador to Lebanon were also aboard the plane.

Lebanese authorities have said the black box will be analyzed by BEA, a French agency that specializes in assisting with technical investigations of air crashes.