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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Searchers Locate Black Box Near Site of Mysterious Crash

Seven weeks after a Tu-154 airliner crashed in the Russian Far East, rescue workers Friday found the plane's black box, which should provide clues into the Dec. 7 accident that killed 97 people.

The so-called black box, or electronic flight recorder, was thrown out of the plane and broke in half when the aircraft hit the ground and exploded, Itar-Tass reported.

Rescuer workers had been searching for the black box ever since the plane's wreckage was found 11 days after the airliner vanished from radar screens while on a flight from Sakhalin Island to the mainland city of Khabarovsk.

The Tu-154 went into a sudden spin at 10,600 meters, slamming into the ground almost vertically in a violent explosion. All 97 on board perished.

The black box was found about 500 meters from the crater that remained after the plane crashed. Experts believe that its magnetic tape, while seriously damaged, can be restored, Itar-Tass said.

Authorities have not determined what might have caused the crash. They cited a failure in the 19-year-old plane's equipment as one possible reasons.

Other possibilities have not been ruled out, including a bomb blast on board. Some victims' relatives even suggested that the plane could have been shot down by mistake by the Russian air defense troops. However, military officials have provided documents proving they were not responsible for the crash.