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World - Americas

Divers find one of Swissair 111's 'black boxes'

Flight data recorder
The flight data recorder from Swissair Flight 111 arrives in Ottawa for testing  

Sections of fuselage also discovered

September 6, 1998
Web posted at: 6:51 p.m. EDT (2251 GMT)

PEGGY'S COVE, Nova Scotia (CNN) -- The flight data recorder from Swissair Flight 111 was recovered Sunday, a key break in the investigation into last week's air disaster that killed 229 people.

Divers had been searching the waters of the North Atlantic off the Nova Scotian coast for the two so-called "black boxes," which record cockpit conversations and flight data, since Saturday, when a submarine picked up a signal from a locator beacon attached to the devices.

Speaking at a late afternoon news conference, Vic Gerden, the chief investigator for the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, said the flight data recorder was located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) off the coast. He said the box would be analyzed at a laboratory in Ottawa.

"The location of this recorder will no doubt aid divers in focusing on the area for the search of the second flight recorder," he said.

Swissair releases names of crash victims

New details emerge of Swissair 111's last minutes
USS Grapple
The USS Grapple is being dispatched from Philadelphia to assist in salvage and recovery  

Sections of fuselage found

Gerden also announced that divers have located three large sections of the airliner's fuselage. Previously, the largest piece of wreckage found was the size of a car's roof, a testament to the force of the crash.

At the request of Canadian authorities, the USS Grapple, a U.S. Navy supply ship which assisted in the deep-sea investigation of the TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island in 1996, embarked Sunday from Philadelphia with a team of 30 divers and special equipment for underwater recovery operations.

A request also has been made for help from the U.S. military in conducting DNA analysis on the remains of victims in an attempt to identify them, Gerden said.

Prayers for victims at Sunday services

Swissair 111, en route from New York to Geneva, crashed Wednesday night while trying to make an emergency landing at the airport in Halifax. The crash came about 16 minutes after the pilot reported to air traffic controllers that there was smoke in the cockpit.

On Sunday, a private memorial service was held for the approximately 300 family members of Swissair victims who traveled to Nova Scotia this weekend.

Worshipers also mourned the victims at church services in Peggy's Cove, the fishing village nearest to the crash site, and nearby Hackett's Cove.

"It's been horrible what's been going on the past week," the Rev. Richard Walsh told his congregation at St. Peter's Anglican Church. He wept briefly, then told the 30 worshippers, "I'll be OK."

In Sunday's closing hymn at St. John's Church in Peggy's Cove, the congregation sang, "Hear O Lord our earnest prayer for those who travel by the air."

Walsh said residents of the region would remember these tragic days for the rest of their lives.

"Every time we drive by the ocean or the rocks, we will remember the people who have become spiritually part of our community," he said. "We will remember, and we will never forget.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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