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Black boxes show pilots alive after missile hit Ukraine jet in Iran

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By Euronews and AFP
All 176 passengers and the pilots died onboard the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight.
All 176 passengers and the pilots died onboard the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight.   -   Copyright  Ebrahim Noroozi/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

The black boxes recovered from a Ukrainian airliner mistakenly downed in Tehran has shown the two pilots were alive after the first two missiles hit, officials said Sunday.

The Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet, crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran's main airport on January 8, killing all 176 people on board. 

Iran admitted days later that its forces accidentally shot down the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Iran's air defences had been on high alert at the time. It was concerned the US would retaliate against Iranian strikes hours earlier on American troops stationed in Iraq.

The head of Iran's civil aviation authority Touraj Dehghani Zanganeh said that the cockpit voice recorder registered a conversation between the pilot, co-pilot and an instructor between the two blasts.

"Up to 19 seconds after the first missile exploded in the vicinity of the aircraft, (they) noticed abnormal conditions and were in control of the aircraft until the last moment," he said, quoted by state television's website.

"The instructor indicates that the aircraft has an electronic problem and the auxiliary power has been activated," he said.

"The pilots were notified that both engines of the aircraft were on."

He said the black boxes stopped working 19 seconds after the first explosion, making it impossible to retrieve data on the impact of the second missile. 

Iran, which has no means of decoding the black boxes, sent them to France for analysis.