Second sub hunts for jet's black boxes

A SECOND remote-controlled submarine was taken to the crash site of EgyptAir Flight 990 as investigators intensified efforts to recover the plane's two "black box" recorders from the wreckage on the seabed 60 miles off Nantucket.

Officials were expecting to lower the new submersible, Magnum ROV, before nightfall yesterday. It is a little larger and more sophisticated than the Navy's Deep Drone, which has been searching the seabed, 250 feet down, since Friday, with numerous weather interruptions.

Operated from the deck of the merchant vessel Carolyn Chouest, the Magnum will resume where Drone left off, digging with its claw through silt and wreckage on the seabed in search of the boxes. The "ping" sounds from both are loud but so far they have not actually been seen.

Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the task was hard because there was a lot of wreckage, most of it bits of fuselage in very small pieces. That has persuaded navy commanders to rule out sending down divers. "What is a concern is the situation of the debris on the ocean floor," Mr Hall said.

"It appears that the wreckage is deeply piled on one another. Getting in there and getting the black boxes is going to be challenging".

All 217 passengers on the EgyptAir Boeing died when it plunged into the Atlantic. Relatives attended a memorial service on Sunday, a week after the crash, at Newport, Rhode Island. Mourners braved a cold wind to gather at the water's edge and cast white and pink flowers into the water.