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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Expert Joins German Crash Probe

BERLIN — An expert from Russia joined German investigators Thursday to help decode the cockpit conversations in a Russian charter jetliner just before it rammed a cargo plane at 10,500 meters over Germany, officials said Thursday.

German investigators said Thursday that experts examining the wreckage have found no evidence of technical problems in the planes so far but will continue that part of the investigation for another two weeks.

Attention from the start has focused on the actions of the Russian pilot and Swiss air traffic control, which was handling the planes over the Swiss German border region just before the July 1 crash that killed 71 people.

The Russian expert's help will be critical in understanding the Bashkirian Airlines crew's conversations, said Frank Goeldner, a spokesman for the German air safety office.

"We need to identify every sound, every voice," said Lothar M?ller, another spokesman for German investigators.

Investigators have established that both pilots notified Swiss air traffic control they both were descending less than a minute before the collision. The Russian plane's collision-warning system instructed the pilot to climb to avoid the DHL International cargo jet, but the pilot instead heeded a Swiss air traffic controller's instruction to descend, investigators say.

The lone air traffic controller was removed from duty immediately after the crash, and Swiss officials announced his indefinite suspension Tuesday.

The crash killed 69 aboard the Russian plane, including 44 school students heading for a Spanish beach vacation, and the two DHL pilots. Forensic experts identified 53 of the crash victims by Thursday, police said.

While leading the investigation, German officials have already handed over a copy of the Russian plane's cockpit tape to Russian investigators.

A report in Thursday's Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper said the Russian pilots were swearing in the cockpit in the last moments before the crash.

"The last words of the crew of both planes were profanity. Profanity that I wouldn't want to repeat," Alexander Neradko, Russia's top civil aviation official, told the paper.

German investigators earlier this week said they had determined from the transcripts that the cockpit warning systems had properly instructed the Russian pilot to climb and the DHL pilot to descend, which would have avoided a collision. They have, however, not released a transcript of the black box recording publicly, and M?ller refused to comment on the Russian report.