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Cockpit voice recorder of EgyptAir flight found in Mediterranean

The voice recorder should tell investigators what went on inside the cockpit before the crash. Search teams are still looking for the other so-called black box, containing flight data information.

Search crews have found

the cockpit voice recorder of the EgyptAir flight

that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last month, killing all 66 people on board.

The Airbus A320 was flying from Paris to Cairo

on a calm spring night when it suddenly dropped off radar screens.

The box was damaged, but a specialist ship - the John Lethbridge of the Mauritius-based Deep Ocean Search company - managed to secure the memory unit.

Watch video 00:49

EgyptAir plane wreckage found

"The vessel's equipment was able to salvage the part that contains the memory unit, which is considered the most important part of the recording device," said a statement from the Egyptian committee leading the investigation.

EgyptAir flight MS804 went down on May 19.

Since then search teams have been racing to find the plane's wreckage and, crucially, the two black box recorders. The boxes emit electronic pings for up to five weeks after a crash.

Parts of the plane were discovered on Wednesday evening, but Airbus had said that locating the black boxes remained the key to finding answers.

"The first photos of the wreckage do not allow to establish any scenario of the accident," Airbus said in a statement. "Only the black boxes could contribute to a full understanding of the chain of events which led to this tragic accident."

The box is bound for Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria where prosecutors and investigators are waiting to take possession of it.

Scattered debris

The plane went down about 180 miles (290 kilometers) from the Egyptian coast. Search teams have discovered pieces of the fuselage scattered across "several sites" on the sea floor - about 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) beneath the surface.

The cockpit voice recorder tracks conversations and other sounds in the pilots' cabin.

The other black box, as yet unrecovered, is the flight data recorder, which collects navigational information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane.

Watch video 04:05

Signals from EgyptAir's black box detected

France's aviation safety agency has confirmed that

the EgyptAir flight transmitted automated messages indicating problems with the flight control unit

and smoke in the cabin minutes before the plane disappeared from radar.

Egyptian investigators have confirmed earlier reports that the aircraft made a 90-degree left turn followed by a 360-degree turn to the right before plunging into the sea.

The plane's locator transmitter sent out an emergency signal

via satellite as it fell from the sky. The signal was key to helping investigators narrow their search field.

It was the second deadly plane crash involving Egypt in a little more than six months. Last October a Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Most of those victims were Russian citizens.

The self-styled "Islamic State" claimed responsibility for that attack within an hour of the crash. But no such claim has been made since last month's crash.

bik/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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