Landing prematurely caused China plane crash: Initial probe
The ill-fated Chinese airliner may have crashed due to “landing prematurely” in the woods, 2km ahead of the runway, in the northeast city of Yichun in remote Heilongjiang province, according to preliminary investigations.
The investigations revealed that the plane broke apart while “landing prematurely”, throwing out some of the passengers before bursting into flames and exploding. Eight victims were found 20 to 30 meters from the plane’s wreckage in a muddy field.
The plane landed about 2km short of the runway, outside the barbed-wire enclosed Lindu airport in Yichun, state-run China Daily reported, contradicting the earlier version that the plane overshot the runway.
Following the crash, the Henan Airlines which operated the ill-fated flight has grounded all flights for the next three days.
Meanwhile, the airport was opened today with the first landing 40 hours after the deadly crash in China in nearly six years. An Airbus 320 carrying some of the relatives of the victims landed at Lindu Airport in Yichun, official media reported.
The airport was shutdown after the Brazil-made ERJ-190 turbine jet of Henan Airlines crashed while landing at the Lindu Airport, located in forest-covered mountain valley, which was opened few months ago. The plane’s two “black boxes” were recovered yesterday.
An official probe began yesterday with a directive to all domestic airlines to overhaul safety measures. The state council, or China’s cabinet, has set up a special work group to probe the cause of the crash.
Three of five children injured in the accident were in critical condition. “Four children suffered from airway burns and three were in critical condition. The next 48 hours are crucial,” said Wang Yongchen, deputy chief of First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University.
Fifteen passengers severely injured in the disaster that killed 42 were airlifted yesterday from local hospitals of the crash site, Yichun, to the provincial capital Harbin.
The plane’s captain, Qi Quanjun, survived and was in hospital, though he was unable to talk due to severe facial injuries, doctors said. A cabin attendant survived but the plane’s co-pilot and two other attendants were killed. Most of the casualties were found at the back of the aircraft. The injured suffered mainly from burns, cuts and broken limbs.
Experts from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) have ruled out sabotage. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday called for all-out efforts to save the injured passengers.
They also ordered a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident as well as thorough inspections within the civil aviation system to eliminate any safety risks.
Henan Airlines also sacked its general manager Li Qiang.