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State media: Rescuers recover 'black box' of crashed plane in Cuba

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Plane crashes in central Cuba
  • NEW: Flight data recorder should help authorities determine the cause of the crash
  • The crash killed 68 people, state media reports
  • Crews are using heavy machinery to comb through the charred rubble
  • The Aerocaribbean plane was flying from Santiago de Cuba to Havana
  • Cuba
  • Airlines
  • Havana

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Search crews have found the flight data recorder in the charred remains of a fiery plane crash in central Cuba that left 68 people dead, state media reported Friday.

The Aerocaribbean plane was carrying 40 Cubans and 28 foreigners, the state-run website Cubadebate said. None of them survived the crash, the website said.

Photos from the local newspaper Escambray posted on Cubadebate early Friday showed rescue crews using heavy machinery to comb through the debris. Flames still engulfed parts of the plane.

Escambray, which is also run by the state, reported authorities uncovered the flight data and voice recorder. The so-called "black box" should help investigators determine the cause of the crash.

The flight was traveling from the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba and heading to the country's capital, Havana, Cubadebate reported.

The Civil Aviation Institute of Cuba said Flight 883 lost contact with air traffic controllers around 5:42 p.m. Thursday (4:42 p.m. ET Thursday), Cubadebate said.

The plane crashed in a rural part of the central province of Sancti Spiritus, Cubadebate said. Residents in the area said the plane made several sudden movements before plunging to the ground.

A list of victims posted on the Cubadebate site comprised 40 Cubans, nine people from Argentina, seven people from Mexico, three people from the Netherlands, two people from Germany, two people from Austria and one person each from Spain, France, Italy, Japan and Venezuela.

Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner ordered a plane to Cuba to retrieve the bodies of the nine victims from her country, according to the state-run Telam news agency of Argentina. The Argentine Foreign Ministry also provided a phone number for relatives of the deceased to call to obtain more information.

Preliminary reports indicate that the plane crashed near the Zaza Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Cuba, according to state media.

All the doctors in Sancti Spiritus have been mobilized, according to a hospital worker who declined to give her name because she was not authorized to speak to the media. The hospital worker said she saw the plane crash from 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away.

"When it hit the ground, it burst into flames," she said.

The last plane crash in Cuba occurred in March 2002, Cubadebate said, when a plane carrying tourists went down in the central province of Villa Clara. Sixteen people were killed in that crash.

CNN's Shasta Darlington and Umaro Djau contributed to this report.