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China Eastern crash black boxes sent to US for analysis

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BEIJING (AP) — The two black boxes from a passenger plane crash in southern China last month that killed 132 people are being analyzed by U.S. experts at a government lab in Washington, DC

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday it was helping its Chinese counterparts download information from the flight data recorder. The US agency said last week it was doing the same for the cockpit voice recorder.

Both may have been damaged by the impact of the accident. If information about them can be recovered, it could shed light on why China Eastern’s Boeing 737-800 suddenly nosed over and slammed into the ground in a mountainous area on March 21.

The crash left a 20-metre (65 ft) deep crater in the mountainside, shattered the plane and started a fire in the surrounding forest. More than 49,000 pieces of aircraft debris were found. It took two days to find the cockpit voice recorder and six days for the flight data recorder, which was buried 1.5 meters (5 feet) underground.

American accident investigators arrived in China last weekend to help the investigation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The NTSB team is participating because the plane was made in the United States.

Chinese officials said a preliminary investigation report would be completed within 30 days of the crash.

Flight MU5735 with 123 passengers and nine crew members was heading from the city of Kunming in southwest China to Guangzhou, a provincial capital and export manufacturing hub near Hong Kong in the southeast .

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