More details have emerged on the discovery of the remains of Air Class Metro CX-LAS yesterday submerged in the Rio de la Plata approx. one mile southeast of Isla de Flores.
Hector Bado - Treasure Hunter
The Uruguayan Navy patrol boat "ROU 12 Paysandu "set sail yesterday morning with the famed treasure hunter Hector Bado and his diving team aboard to search using radar to detect anomalies in the sea floor followed with dives to confirm the nature of any objects that were potentially part of the lost aircraft.
Mr. Bado has led the discovery of several high-profile shipwrecks off the Uruguayan coast, the most famous dives being not for the purposes of discovery, but rather recovery of several items from the sunken World War II German Navy heavy cruiser, the Graf Spee, scuttled by its commander off the coast of Montevideo in December 1939. Objects recovered include a 27-ton "telemeter" range finder and the ship's Nazi eagle emblem.
Moment of Discovery
At about 3:30pm, after three dives that had not turned up anything, Mr. Bado saw on the radar screen of the sweeping device an object 6-8 meters long that he believed could be the plane's fuselage. Two divers went down in the shallow waters to investigate. Mr. Bado and the ship's crew anxiously waited for them to resurface and they were not disappointed as the two men emerged with part of what appeared to be the Metro's nose landing gear. On further dives they recovered a part from the wing and an "electric charger". The three objects were determined to be from the Metro confirming that they had found the aircraft.
What appears to be the plane's tail was located some 40 meters from the fuselage. Additionally, there are many unidentified small objects scattered around the plane's fuselage. Maybe the packages that it was carrying ?
Mr. Bado first announced the find to the world through his Facebook page exclaiming "We just found the plane, God exists!".
Possible Crash Hypothesis
There is speculation that something happened disabling the aircraft but that the commander of the flight, Captain Walter Rigo, was able to control the plane until it hit the water, possibly in a ditching maneuver. This would explain why the plane is relatively intact and no floating parts were ever found which would have been more likely if it had crashed into the sea at high speed, resulting in a breakup.
There were at least three eyewitnesses, including one highly-qualified one that saw two explosions in the air south of Montevideo on the night of the crash which would suggest that there might have been some sort of uncontained engine failure leading to the aircraft's descent to the sea, possibly with the flight controls still being effective.
The priority now is to recover the bodies of the two crewmen, Captain Walter Rigo (63) and First Officer Martin Riva (34), possibly tomorrow (Sunday, July 22) as weather conditions are unfavorable today. The Uruguayan Navy ship ROU Vanguardia will perform this task with Mr. Bado and his divers leading the effort. Recovery of the Metro's "black box" that should help determine the cause of the crash will follow later on.
Source: El Pais Uruguay 21Jul12