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‘Black box’ under study after TACA jet crashes in Honduras, killing five

May 30, 2008

Workers have recovered the “black box” from the TACA jet that ran off the runway and plowed into a street in Honduras Friday morning, killing five people, including Nicaraguan banker Harry Brautigam, president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.

Twenty-three Tico passengers survived the crash, Costa Rican media reported.

Grupo Taca President Roberto Kriete said yesterday he hoped the flight recorder will provide clues to what caused the crash, denying national media reports that the flight had mechanical problems, according to the Associated Press.

“TACA operates 140 days a year under adverse weather conditions in Central America,” Kriete told AP.

In addition to three victims identified FridaySalvadoran pilot Cesare D’Antonio and two passengers, Brautigam and Jeanne Chantal, wife of the Brazilian ambassador in Honduras – two Honduran university students died in a car that was crushed by the plane.

The plane, carrying 130 people, was on a route from Los Angeles to San Salvador, El Salvador, then to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and Miami, according to AP.

Honduran taxi driver Gregorio Reyes also survived despite the total destruction of his car that was trapped under the jet’s left wing, newswire EFE reported. “I remember I heard a noise. I looked to one side and I saw that the wing of the aircraft was falling on top (of the car). I ducked my head inside the taxi and that saved my life,” Reyes told EFE.

The Toncontin International, in Tegucigalpa – built in 1948 with a runway less than 5,300 feet long – is considered one of the world’s more dangerous international airports, and there have been calls for years to replace it.

President Manuel Zelaya said his government will create an airport for commercial jets at a nearby U.S. military airfield to start running within 60 days. Until then, planes will land in San Pedro Sula, about 110 miles north of the capital, he said, according to AP.

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