No Survivors in China Eastern Plane Crash

Chinese authorities on Saturday (26/3) officially confirmed that there were no survivors in the crash of the China Eastern 737-800 plane carrying 132 passengers and crew earlier this week.

The announcement by an official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) at a press conference on Saturday evening, was followed by a moment of silence.

Chinese state media reported that investigators had identified 120 victims through DNA analysis.

The plane took off from the city of Kunming in southwest China on Monday (21/3). While flying at an altitude of 8,800 meters, the plane suddenly dived into a mountainous area moments before landing at Guangzhou airport, the provincial capital and manufacturing hub near Hong Kong, on China’s southeast coast.

Using an excavator, the investigation team on Saturday (26/3) dug up the crash site to search for the wreckage of the plane, found the victim’s body and a second black box. The device that recorded the pilot’s voice in the cockpit was found on Wednesday (23/3), but the flight data recorder is still being sought.

The cause of the plane crash is still a mystery. The control tower attempted to contact the pilot several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply, but got no response. Authorities said forensic and criminal investigation teams had released the identities of 114 passengers and six crew members.

China Eastern, one of China’s four major airlines, and its subsidiaries, has grounded 223 of its 737-800 aircraft. The airline said the ban was a precautionary measure, not a sign of something wrong with the type of aircraft. [em/ft]