Crash investigators said it was not yet known why the China Eastern Airlines plane carrying 132 people crashed from the sky on Tuesday. Recovery teams are still scouring the forested slopes to find the flight recorders of the wrecked Boeing aircraft.
For nearly 36 hours after Monday’s crash, no survivors were found. It was the deadliest aviation disaster in 30 years in China, which has maintained an enviable aviation safety record.
“The current information does not allow us to clearly determine the cause of the accident,” Zhu Tao, director of the Aviation Safety Bureau of China’s Aviation Authority, told reporters late Tuesday.
He said the focus is now on “searching flight recorders.”
The cause of the crash was questioned, and the jet that crashed dropped 20,000 feet a minute after it crashed into the rugged terrain of southern China on Monday afternoon.
The speed of the impact caused warped metal and passengers’ belongings to be scattered throughout the forest.
The airline has officially acknowledged the deaths of some of the planes traveling from Kunming City to its southern hub, Guangzhou, but has yet to declare that all aboard are dead.
China Eastern Airlines Yunnan Chairman Sun Shiying said he had reached out to the families of all passengers on board.
The nearly seven-year-old crashed plane met all airworthiness requirements before flying, he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
President Xi Jinping called for a full-scale investigation when a search team armed with drones arrived in a rural area of Guangxi province right after the crash.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has announced that it will conduct a two-week safety check across the industry.
‘sounds like thunder’
Burn marks from the accident were noticed on Tuesday, and the resulting fire was told to rescuers. AFPOne person speculated that the passengers were “totally burned” by the intensity of the fire.
A villager near the site of the massive crash said he only named his surname Ou, and said he heard a “thundering sound” accompanied by a blazing sound of blisters forming on the surrounding hills.
The stolen belongings captured by the state-run reporter in the video included torn wallets and burnt camera lenses. People’s Daily Anyone who was able to enter the crash site.
But AFP Reporters were blocked at a hill checkpoint by a group of men who identified themselves as Communists who said they had “orders from above” to block access.
According to a video reported by the Chinese media, the disaster occurred after a high-speed vertical nose dive. AFP The authenticity of the video cannot be immediately verified.
‘I miss you forever’
According to the Aviation Authority of China, flight MU5735, which took off from Kunming just after 1:00 PM (0500 GMT), lost contact over Wuzhou, Guangxi Province.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that it believed all passengers on board were Chinese.
At Guangzhou Airport, staff helped a loved one of the 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard the plane, but stopped transmitting flight information after falling a total altitude of 26,000 feet in just three minutes.
Relatives and friends of those on board had a gloomy time awaiting the news.
A user on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo wrote that he was a friend of a flight attendant who crashed.
“I will miss you forever,” he wrote, describing the “passion” that a friend took to his new job this year.
A woman told local media that she had changed her flight plans at the last minute to catch an earlier flight.
The disaster sparked an unusually quick public response, calling Xi Jinping a “shock” and calling for “absolute safety” on air travel.
State media reported that Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, a powerful official close to President Xi, who mainly deals with economic issues, was sent to the area to oversee rescue and investigation operations.
Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 showed that an airplane fell sharply from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 7,850 feet in less than a minute.
After a brief climb, it fell to 3,225 feet, the tracker said.
Despite the huge boom in travel, China has a strong flight safety record.
Chinese media reported that the airline will now cancel all Boeing 737-800 jets.
The deadliest Chinese commercial aircraft accident was the 1994 Northwest Airlines crash in China, killing all 160 people on board.