Recovery teams still scouring a forested mountainside for the flight recorders from the Boeing aircraft
Crash investigators on Tuesday said they do not yet know why a China Eastern jet carrying 132 people plunged from the sky, with recovery teams still scouring a forested mountainside for flight recorders from the pulverised Boeing aircraft.
No survivors had been found nearly 36 hours after Monday’s crash — the deadliest air disaster in three decades in China, a country that had maintained an enviable air safety record.
He said the focus is now on “the search for flight recorders”.
The velocity of the impact left twisted metal and passengers’ belongings scattered across a swathe of forest.
Contact has been made with the families of all on board, said Sun Shiying, chairman of China Eastern Airlines Yunnan.
President Xi Jinping called for a full probe shortly after the crash as search teams armed with drones descended upon the site in a rural area of Guangxi province.
– ‘Sound like thunder’ –
A villager near the sprawling crash site, giving only his surname Ou, recounted hearing a “sound like thunder” followed by a blaze that blistered the surrounding hills.
But AFP journalists 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 prevent access.
– ‘Miss you forever’ –
The foreign ministry said Tuesday they believed all passengers on board were Chinese nationals.
Relatives and friends of those onboard endured a grim wait for news.
“I will miss you forever,” he wrote, describing the “enthusiasm” his friend took to his new job this year.
The disaster prompted an unusually swift public reaction from Xi, who said he was “shocked” and called for “absolute safety” in air travel.
Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the plane sharply dropped from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 7,850 feet in just over a minute.
Despite a huge boom in travel, China has a strong flight safety record.
The deadliest Chinese commercial flight accident was a China Northwest Airlines crash in 1994 that killed all 160 people onboard.