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Divers May Have Located Crashed Plane's Recorder in Red Sea - 2004-01-06

Search and recovery teams may have located the black-box flight recorder belonging to the chartered Boeing 737 jetliner that crashed Saturday off the coast of Egypt.

French divers reportedly detected what could be a signal from the flight data recorder that should help investigators learn why an Egyptian chartered Boeing 737 crashed into the Red Sea Saturday, killing all 148 people on board.

Once the flight data recorder is located, a submersible robot is expected to be used to retrieve it.

The recorder and the main wreckage from the plane are believed to lie several hundred meters below the surface of the sea. A fleet of sonar-equipped vessels is involved in the search and recovery effort, including the French frigate Tourville, which arrived in the crash area.

France has also dispatched dozens of technical experts, including DNA specialists, investigators and divers to Egypt.

The chartered plane crashed into the Red Sea shortly after taking off from the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh Saturday. Most of the victims were French tourists bound for Paris.

According to Egyptian and French officials, radar data suggest the aircraft may have experienced mechanical problems before plummeting into the sea.

An Italian newspaper reported that Italy has begun an investigation into the ill-fated flight. The aircraft had arrived Friday in Egypt from Rome just hours prior to crash. The newspaper, Corriere della Sera, said the plane had left Marco Polo airport an hour late and that a magistrate had ordered the airport's logs seized to determine if routine safety checks had detected anything unusual about the plane.