All on board China plane dead
DALIAN, China -- All 112 people aboard a Chinese jetliner that plunged into the sea near the northeastern city of Dalian are dead, the airline has said.
The news came after searchers worked through the night to find survivors from China Northern Airlines Flight 6136, which crashed around 9.40 p.m. (1340 GMT) on Tuesday, about 20 kilometers east of the resort city of Dalian.
"The 103 passengers and nine crew aboard the airliner all perished," said a letter issued by the airline that expressed condolences to the families of the dead.
The plane crashed shortly after the captain reported a fire in the cabin, according to state news agency, Xinhua. A flotilla of more than 30 tugs and warships had been searching the murky waters of Dalian Bay for survivors.
By midday Wednesday, emergency crews said they have recovered 60 bodies so far, along with parts of the plane.
Darkness hindered early rescue efforts. Dalian's two biggest hospitals had been on standby in the busy port city, 280 miles east of Beijing, but had received no bodies.
The plane, an MD-82 that is one of several MD-80 models, was approaching Dalian's airport from Beijing.
Airline officials said eight non-Chinese were among the passengers -- from Japan, South Korea and other countries yet to be identified.
An emergency services officer at the airport, who said he had just returned from the crash site, said the plane had broken into pieces, which were floating on the water.
"It disintegrated," the officer told The Associated Press, refusing to give his name or other details.
The aircraft made several circles before suddenly plunging into the sea with its lights out, Xinhua quoted Dalian port worker Liu Jiqing as saying.
Another worker at Dalian port said he was surprised by the noise of the impact.
"Ambulances and police poured in and I knew it was a crash," he told Reuters news agency.
The aircraft took off at 8:37 p.m., and air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight at 9:32 p.m., eight minutes before its scheduled landing, Xinhua said.
Xinhua said most of those aboard were residents of Dalian, which faces the sea on three sides.
The accident came at the end of China's week-long labor day holiday, a time when millions of Chinese travel within the country, suggesting many of those on board were returning home for business Wednesday morning, The Associated Press reported.
Police have begun DNA testing to identify victims.
According to Boeing spokesman Tom Ryan, the plane was delivered by McDonnell Douglas in July 1991. It had 26,000 hours and was operated for China Northern Airlines by Swan Air.
The Boeing MD-80 model, a quiet, fuel-efficient twinjet, was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in August 1980 and entered airline service in October the same year.
Thirty-five MD-80 airplanes were assembled and are operating in China.
The plane was one of 24 such aircraft in what China Northern says is an 82-plane fleet.
The government has sent an investigative team to Dalian -- an indication of how seriously it takes the crash.
China's airline industry, plagued by a rash of accidents in the 1990s, has spent millions on new jetliners, pilot training and upgraded services to improve its reputation.
After hundreds of crash deaths in the 1990s, China's airlines reported not a single fatality last year.
But, in what has been a blow to the country's safety record, this is the second accident in one month involving a Chinese passenger jet.
On April 15, Air China Flight CA129 from Beijing slammed into a forest-covered mountain in heavy rain and fog while preparing to land at Kimhae Airport near Busan, South Korea's second-largest city. South Korean officials have suggested pilot error was to blame.
China Northern is due to be merged with Xinjiang Airlines into a large group under China Southern Airlines as part of a sweeping consolidation of the industry.
WORLD TOP STORIES:
|Back to the top|