36 Hours Later, No Survivors Found

The plane crashed into a mountain slope with 132 people on board.


Crash investigators on Tuesday said they did not yet know why an Eastern China jet carrying 132 people jumped from the sky, with recovery teams still traversing the forested mountain slopes to find flight recorders from the wrecked Boeing plane.

The speed of the crash, which left metal twisted and scattered passenger belongings across the wooded area, meant no survivors were found nearly 36 hours after Monday’s crash.

It was the deadliest air disaster in China in three decades, in a country with an enviable air safety record.

“With current information, we are unable to make a clear judgment on the cause of the crash,” Zhu Tao, director of the aviation safety office at China’s aviation authority, said late Tuesday – adding that the focus now is on “finding flight recorders.”

Questions arose about the cause of the crash, which saw the hit jet fall 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) in more than a minute before plunging into a rugged area in southern China on Monday afternoon.

The airline officially acknowledged that several on board the jet, which was en route from Kunming city to the southern hub of Guangzhou, had perished, but had stopped to declare all on board the ship as dead.

President Xi Jinping immediately called for a full investigation following the crash as drone -armed search teams descended on the site in forested and rural areas of Guangxi province.

‘Sounds like thunder’

On Tuesday, scorched marks could be seen from the crash and resulted in a fire, rescue workers told AFP, with one speculating that the passengers had been “completely burned” as a result of the intensity of the fire.

A villager near the extensive crash site, giving only his surname Ou, recounted hearing a “sound like thunder” followed by fire blistering the surrounding hills.

A torn wallet and a burning camera lens were among the items that had been removed which were recorded in video by a reporter from the government -run People’s Daily who was able to enter the crash site.

But AFP reporters were blocked at a hillside checkpoint by a group of men identifying themselves as Communist Party members who said they had “orders from above” to block access.

The disaster happened after a high -speed vertical nozzle, according to a video carried by Chinese media. AFP could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the video.

‘Miss you forever’

Flight MU5735, which took off from Kunming shortly after 1:00 pm (0500 GMT), lost contact over Wuzhou, a city in Guangxi province, according to Chinese aviation authorities.

The foreign ministry today said they believe all the passengers on board were Chinese nationals.

At Guangzhou airport, staff helped loved ones of 123 passengers and nine crew on board, who stopped sending any flight information after descending an altitude of 26,000 feet in just three minutes.

Relatives and friends of those on board experienced a gloomy wait for news.

A user on Weibo, a platform like China’s Twitter, wrote that he was a friend of a crew member in the crashed plane.

“I will miss you forever,” he wrote, describing the “enthusiasm” his friend took for his new job this year.

The disaster sparked an unusually quick public reaction from Xi, who said he was “shocked” and asked for “absolute safety” in air travel.

State media said Vice Prime Minister Liu He, a powerful official close to Xi who usually deals with economic matters, had been sent to the area to oversee rescue work and investigations.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the plane dropped sharply from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 7,850 feet in just over a minute.

After a brief climb, it plunged to 3,225 feet, the tracker said.

Despite the huge boom in travel, China has a strong aviation safety record.

Chinese media reported that the airline will now stop all its Boeing 737-800 jets.

China’s deadliest commercial flight accident was the 1994 China Northwest Airlines crash that killed all 160 people on board.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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