ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The black box from the Algerian military plane that crashed into an eastern mountain has been found, the country's state news agency reported Wednesday.
The box, which the report said would contain the pilot's final communications before the plane went down around noon Tuesday, should shed light on what caused the crash. The Algerian military has blamed stormy weather, including snow.
But the C-130 Hercules turboprop was also at least 24 years old and possibly up to 33 years old, according to sales information from its maker, Lockheed Martin Corp.
In a statement Wednesday, the Algerian military insisted that one person survived and 77 others were killed in the crash. It said four of the dead were females and the rest were soldiers. A civil defense commander had earlier reported that there were 76 fatalities and one survivor. The discrepancy could not be explained.
The Algerian plane crashed as it flew to the eastern city of Constantine from the southern desert city of Tamanrasset. It made a stop in Ouargla along the way and some passengers left the plane, creating confusion over exactly how many were on board when the crash occurred.
The soldier who survived is reported to have severe head injuries but there's been no official information released about his condition.
Lt. Nassim Bernaoui of Algeria's Civil Defense agency said the recovery operation involved nearly 500 men in the remote region and the bodies were sent to Constantine's military hospital. Many emergency workers had to walk miles (kilometers) to get to the remote crash site near Mount Fortas.
Algeria began a three-day mourning period Wednesday for the victims.