Black box found from Mexico crash that killed 14, including minister
AFP - Thursday, November 6
MEXICO CITY (AFP) - - Investigators have found the black box from a plane crash in Mexico City that killed 14 including the interior minister and another top player in the country's drug crime crackdown.
"We now have the black box, they are analyzing it. It will take time," said Transport Minister Luis Tellez, who has rejected speculation of foul play in the rush hour crash in the center of the sprawling Mexico capital late Tuesday.
Condolences for the victims' families poured in from across the country and abroad, including from those who had worked with Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino, the nation's second most powerful official after the president.
The interior ministry Learjet crashed on a pedestrian street in Mexico City after taking off from the central state of San Luis Potosi where Mourino had earlier signed a security accord.
Mexican, British and US experts -- from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board -- joined in investigations into the crash.
"There have been no signs that permit another hypothesis than an accident, but investigations will explore all possibilities," said Tellez earlier.
"There was no explosion in the air," he said, after witnesses reported hearing explosions at the crash site near the city's main Reforma avenue.
The crew did not report any problems, Tellez added, rejecting media reports to the contrary.
Some 200 police and soldiers watched over the roped off, charred crash site Wednesday as the toll rose to 14, after five more deaths were confirmed.
A 42-year-old man died in hospital, said a statement from the city prosecutor's office late Wednesday, adding to a toll of 13 dead, including nine on the plane, given earlier by prosecutor Miguel Angel Mancera.
Some 40 people were injured, including four seriously, officials said.
The deaths of 37-year-old Mourino, who became interior minister in January, and security advisor Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos were a massive blow to the government's anti-drug strategy.
Mourino had led a government campaign against mounting drug-related violence -- in which some 4,000 have died so far this year -- including the deployment of some 36,000 troops across the country.
President Felipe Calderon late Tuesday paid homage to "one of my closest collaborators and one of my best and closest friends," in a brief statement to journalists.
Calderon held an emergency meeting overnight, calling for a "rigorous investigation" into the crash, and naming Mourino's deputy, Abraham Gonzalez Uyeda, to replace him in the interim, his office said in a statement Wednesday.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn" of Mourino's death, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington.
Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his country was "very touched" by Mourino's death and that Mexico could count on Spain's support in its "laudable battle against organized crime."
Mourino was born in Spain in 1971 to a Spanish father, who is president of the Celta de Vigo soccer club.
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