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Death toll from China plane crash down to 42; 'black boxes' found

By the CNN Wire Staff
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China begins cleaning up the wreckage
  • A flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder are found
  • The death toll is down from 43 to 42
  • 54 people survive
  • Survivors cite violent shaking prior to impact

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Investigators are decoding the "black boxes" from a shredded plane Wednesday in an attempt to determine what caused China's first fatal passenger airline crash in almost six years, state media said.

A Henan Airlines flight with 96 people on board overshot a runway and crashed Tuesday night in the Yichun area of northern China, state media said. The plane broke into two pieces and burst into flames.

The "black boxes" comprise of a flight data recorder, which contains flight information, and a cockpit voice recorder, which contains the dialogue of the crew.

On Wednesday, the Yichun government downgraded the death toll from the crash from 43 to 42 after a body that was torn apart was previously counted twice, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Fifty-four people survived.

Video: China probes plane crash
Video: Debris of plane still smoking

The Brazilian-made Embraer 190 jet to crashed in heavy fog on a patch of grass about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the runway.

Some passengers were thrown from the plane upon impact, according Xinhua, which cited the head of the publicity department of the Yichun city committee of the Communist Party of China.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang led a team of transportation, health, work safety, and security officials to Yichun after the crash, state media said.

Two survivors told local television that the plane shook violently before it crashed and that thick smoke entered the cabin soon after impact. They said passengers were unable to open emergency exits after the wreck; survivors escaped through cracks in the fuselage.

The plane was carrying 91 passengers, including five children, and five crew members when it crashed at 9:36 p.m. (9:36 a.m. ET), according to Xinhua, which cited a source with the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The Henan Airlines flight had taken off from Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, on the 360-kilometer (225-mile) flight to Lindu Airport, about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from downtown Yichun, a city of about 1 million residents near the Russian border, Xinhua said.

A Yichun vice-mayor told Xinhua that most of those taken to hospitals did not have life-threatening injuries.

China's last fatal passenger airline accident occurred in November 2004, when a China Eastern commuter jet took off in frigid Inner Mongolia without de-icing and crashed shortly afterward into a nearby park, killing 55 people.

CNN's Steven Jiang and Helena Hong contributed to this report.