WUZHOU, CHINA – China says one of the two black boxes from the China Eastern plane crash has been found in a badly damaged condition. The recorder was so damaged they couldn’t tell if it was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.
Mao Yanfeng, director of the accident investigation department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, told a news conference on Wednesday that a full-scale effort was being made to find the black box.
Restoring the so-called black box is considered the key to finding the cause of the crash. The search for clues as to why a Chinese commercial jet suddenly crashed into a mountain in southern China was suspended on Wednesday as rain cut through fields of debris and filled full of red earth stains formed by the fiery collision of the plane.
Previously, searchers used hand-held tools, drones and sniffer dogs in rainy conditions to scour wooded mountain slopes for flight data and cockpit voice recorders. , as well as any human remains. Crews also worked to pump water from the hole created when the plane hit the ground, but their effort was suspended around mid-morning because of the possibility of small landslides on the slippery slopes.
Video clips posted by Chinese state media showed small pieces of the Boeing 737-800 scattered over the area. Wallets, banks and ID cards that were contaminated with mud were also recovered. Each shard has a number next to it, larger fragments are marked with police tape.
Relatives of the passengers began arriving at the entrance to Lu village just outside the crash site on Wednesday, where they, along with reporters at the scene, were used by police and officials to open umbrellas. block the view to the outside.
A woman overheard that her husband, the father of two of their children, was on the flight.
“I just went in there to take a look. Am I breaking the law? “
Another man, giving only his last name, Ding, said his sister-in-law was on the plane. He said he hopes to visit the site but has been told little by the authorities.
“We just came here to look,” Ding said, adding, “Suddenly my heart sank,” upon hearing the news of the accident. He was also escorted away.
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 outside Wuzhou city in Guangxi region. All 132 people on board are presumed dead.
Investigators say it’s too early to speculate on the cause. The plane went into an unknown dive an hour after departure and stopped transmitting data 96 seconds after the crash.
An air traffic controller tried to contact the pilots several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply, but received no response, said Zhu Tao, director of the Aviation Safety Office of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam. China Civil Air, said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
“So far, the rescue has not found any survivors,” Zhu said. “The public security department has taken control of the site.”
China Eastern is headquartered in Shanghai and is one of the three largest airlines in China with more than 600 aircraft, including 109 Boeing 737-800. China’s Ministry of Transport said China Eastern has grounded all of its 737-800 planes, a move that could further disrupt air travel in the already curtailed country. due to the largest COVID-19 outbreak in China since its initial peak in early 2020.
The Boeing 737-800 has been flying since 1998 and has a well-established safety record. It is an earlier model than the 737 Max, which has been retired worldwide for nearly two years following deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.
Monday’s crash was China’s worst in more than a decade. In August 2010, an Embraer ERJ 190-100 operated by Henan Airlines crashed on the runway northeast of Yichun City and caught fire. It carried 96 people and 44 of them died. Investigators blamed the pilot.
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing and news assistant Caroline Chen in Beijing; researcher Chen Si in Shanghai; and video producer Olivia Zhang in Wuzhou, China; contributed to this report.