Found, One of the Black Boxes of China Eastern Aircraft

China said one of the two black boxes of the China Eastern plane suspected of crashing had been found. The box was found to be so badly damaged that it was difficult to determine whether it was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.

Mao Yanfeng, director of the accident investigation division of China’s Civil Aviation Authority, said at a press conference Wednesday that an all-out effort was being made to find another black box.

Finding the two black boxes is thought to be the key to figuring out what caused the crash. The search for clues as to why the commercial jet suddenly swooped down and hit a mountain in southern China was suspended Wednesday because of rain.

Previously, SAR teams used hand tools, drones and sniffer dogs under rainy conditions to comb the heavily wooded slopes for the two black boxes, as well as human remains. The team was also trying to pump water out of a large hole formed when the plane hit the ground. However, their efforts were stopped around noon due to possible landslides on the steep and slippery slopes.

An emergency worker inserts a recorder "black box" orange color into a plastic bag at the site of the China Eastern flight crash Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Tengxian County in southern China's Guangxi.  Zhuang Autonomous Region.  (CCTV via AP Video)

An emergency worker places an orange “black box” recorder into a plastic bag at the crash site of a China Eastern flight Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Tengxian County in southern China’s Guangxi. Zhuang Autonomous Region. (CCTV via AP Video)

Video clips posted by state media on the internet show small pieces of the Boeing 737-800 plane scattered in the area. Wallets, ATM cards and ID cards covered in mud were also found. Each small piece of debris has a number next to it, while the larger ones are marked with police tape.

Relatives of the passengers on the plane began arriving Wednesday (23/3) at the gates of Lu village, just outside the crash zone, where they, along with journalists, were stopped by a number of police officers using open umbrellas to block the view from outside.

A woman can be heard saying that her husband, the father of their two children, was on the plane. “I’ll just go in there to have a look. Am I breaking the law?” he said. The woman and a companion were then led away by police and journalists were ordered to stop their attempts to film the incident.

Relatives of passengers on China Eastern Flight 5735 arrive near the crash site, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Lu village, in southwest China's Guangxi province.  (AP/Ng Han Guan)

Relatives of passengers on China Eastern Flight 5735 arrive near the crash site, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Lu village, in southwest China’s Guangxi province. (AP/Ng Han Guan)

One man, who gave only his surname, Ding, said his brother-in-law was on the plane. He said he wished he could see the crash site firsthand, but was chased away by police. “I came here to have a look,” said Ding. “My heart broke after hearing the accident.”

China Eastern flight 5735 was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew from Kunming in Yunnan province to Guangzhou, an industrial hub on China’s southeast coast, when it crashed Monday afternoon (21/3) outside the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi region. All 132 people on board are presumed dead.

Investigators say it is too soon to speculate on the cause. The plane suddenly dived sharply downwards an hour after departure and stopped transmitting data. [ab/uh]