Black Box Retrieved from Deadly Plane Crash in Northern Angola

LUANDA, Angola_Rescue teams retrieved the "black box" flight data recorder of an Angolan Airlines plane that crashed on landing at an airport in a rural area of the southwest African country, killing five people, officials said Friday.

The Boeing 737 plane carrying 79 passengers crashed and broke in half when it landed at an airport in M'banza Congo, a town about 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of the capital, Luanda, on Thursday.

The crash occurred on the same day the European Union said it was blacklisting Angolan Airlines due to safety concerns.

The national airline, called TAAG, said the flight recorder was taken to Luanda but it was not immediately clear whether it would be sent abroad for analysis.

The National Civil Aviation Institute said it had opened an official inquiry into the causes of the crash.

The aircraft's front section broke off from the fuselage and came to rest about 50 meters (yards) away from the rest of the plane, pictures on public broadcaster Radio Televisao de Angola showed.

The plane struck a small brick house built on grassy land next to the runway. In Africa, rural airports often have dwellings next to the runway, and pedestrians and livestock can cross the tarmac. The M'banza Congo airport has no air traffic control tower

The aircraft's landing gear appeared to give way as the plane touched down, Radio Nacional de Angola reported.

The injured were taken to a hospital in the nearest city, called Zaire.

TAAG said it provided counselors for the families of the dead.

The European Union announced Thursday it was adding the airline to its revised international blacklist. The airline would be barred from flying to EU nations because of safety concerns, the European Commission said.

Earlier this year, the European Union banned 62 African airlines from flying into EU airspace following a string of air disasters.

Africa has the worst accident record in the world.

On Thursday, African governments inaugurated the Civil Aviation Agency, based in Namibia with regional offices in South Africa, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria and Cameroon. The body aims to streamline aviation regulations and licensing throughout the continent.


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