Last updated: 22 February, 2014

Black boxes found from Libyan plane crash in Tunisia

Tunisian searchers have found and handed over to Tripoli the black boxes from a Libyan military plane that crashed Friday, killing 11 including a top former jihadist, the government said.

“The transport ministry announces that the two black boxes from the Libyan military aircraft that crashed yesterday in the Grombalia region have been found,” a statement on Saturday said.

The ministry said in a second statement Tunisian authorities had handed over the black boxes to Tripoli to help them investigate why the military hospital plane had crashed.

The aircraft came down at about 1:30 am (0030 GMT) on Friday in a field on the edge of Nianou village, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the capital Tunis.

It had been transporting Meftah al-Mabrouk Issa al-Dhawadi to Tunis from a military airfield near Tripoli for medical treatment, the Libyan government said in a statement.

Sofiene Bejaoui, an air traffic control official at Tunis-Carthage airport, where the plane had been heading, said on Friday “the pilot’s last message was: ‘engine on fire'”.

All 11 on board were killed. In addition to Dhawadi and another unidentified patient, the dead were three medics and a crew of six.

The transport ministry also said on Saturday that the bodies of those killed in the crash would be handed back to Tripoli after DNA identification was completed, set to take place on Sunday.

Dhawadi was a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) — a now disbanded movement with alleged links to Al-Qaeda which joined the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Several members of the group served in the transitional government of Abdelrahim al-Kib, which held power for a year from November 2011.

Dhawadi was undersecretary at the ministry of martyrs and missing persons.

The aircraft that crashed was a Libyan air force Russian-made Antonov-26, a twin-engine turboprob.