Beijing (AFP) Aug 25, 2010
A Chinese airliner crashed and burst into flames while attempting to land in northeast China, killing 42 people on board, state media reported on Wednesday.
The Henan Airlines plane broke into two pieces late Tuesday before it smashed into the ground while trying to touch down at an airport in the city of Yichun in remote Heilongjiang province, the official Xinhua news agency said.
There were 91 passengers, including five children, and five crew on board, Xinhua said, citing a source at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
More than 40 bodies had been found, Xinhua said, and the rest on board had been rushed to hospital.
Some passengers were thrown out of the cabin before the turbine jet hit the ground.
The crash occurred shortly after 9:30 pm (1330 GMT) near Yichun's Lindu airport, around 40 minutes after the plane took off from Harbin, the provincial capital.
Rescue crews at the crash site were seen putting victims' remains in body bags, Xinhua reported, while the charred wreckage of the plane, which came to rest two kilometres (a mile) from the runway, remained cordoned off.
Anxious relatives waited on open ground near the airport, Xinhua said, but dense fog was hampering the rescue effort.
Books, rubbish and cabin debris was scattered across the muddy crash site.
Wang Xuemei, the vice mayor of Yichun who oversaw the rescue efforts, said most of the survivors had suffered broken bones.
The aircraft was an ERJ-190 jet, a passenger aircraft manufactured by Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer.
Embraer offered its condolences to the victims' families and said it had sent a team of technicians to help with the investigation.
The cause of the crash was still unclear and work teams searched through the wreckage for the plane's black box flight data recorder.
But Xinhua said Chinese carriers using ERJ-190s had reported technical problems in the past and the CAAC called a workshop last June to discuss the issues.
Notes from the meeting -- which involved Kunpeng Airlines, as Henan Airlines was previously known -- showed that breaks of the turbine plates and flight control system errors were among the problems, Xinhua said.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang led a team of transport, safety and security officials to Yichun to deal with the aftermath of the crash and begin investigation work, Xinhua said.
The CAAC has also sent a 20-strong group of technicians and officials to the scene, it said.
Lindu airport is in a forest around nine kilometres (five miles) outside of central Yichun, a city of one million people around 150 kilometres from the border with Russia.
Henan Airlines, based in the central province of the same name, launched the Yichun-Harbin service a year ago and operated the route three times a week, Xinhua said.
The carrier is run by Shenzhen Airlines, based in the southern city of the same name.
Xinhua said CAAC records showed Tuesday's crash was China's first major air disaster in more than five years, since a China Eastern Airlines jet crashed in Baotou City in Inner Mongolia, killing 53 people on board and two on the ground.
The Yichun crash came a week after a North Korean military aircraft came down on a house in Liaoning province, also in China's northeast, killing the pilot.
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Lightning, which is believed to have caused the crash-landing of a Boeing 737-300 plane in Colombia on Monday, is a constant threat to passenger jets. At least one person was killed and 120 injured when the Colombian plane belonging to the company Aires broke into pieces on landing at an airport on the Colombian island of San Andres, after being struck by lightning. Passenger jets are hi ... read more
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