42 die in China plane crash (Second Lead)

August 25th, 2010 - 11:07 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 25 (IANS) At least 42 people were killed and 54 injured Tuesday night when a passenger aircraft overshot the runway and burst into flame while landing at an airport in northeast China, authorities said Wednesday.
The plane crashed at 9.36 p.m. in Yichun city of Heilongjiang province, an official told Xinhua. The aircraft had taken off from Harbin city.

There was confusion over the death toll. While earlier reports said that 43 people were killed in the crash, later reports put the number of the dead at 42.

The injured passengers have been hospitalised, said Hua Jingwei, a local spokesperson.

The E-190 jet of Henan Airlines was engulfed in blaze after it crashed.

Eight-year-old Ji Yifan, who survived the horrific crash, said: “Someone dragged me to the emergency exit door and threw me out before I realised what was going on.”

Ji was among 54 survivors from the Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 jet that crashed upon landing in Yichun.

The evacuation slide, which was also on fire, broke just as Ji was sliding down.

“I fell to the ground. Again someone dragged me aside,” he said in his hospital bed. He was bandaged on his right cheek and had bruises on his face, neck and arms.

A man who was slightly injured recalled that there was strong turbulence after the crew announced that the aircraft was about to land.

“There were four or five bad turbulence and luggage in the overhead bin were raining down,” he said.

“Everyone panicked. Those sitting in the back began rushing to the front of the cabin.”

“There was smog, which I knew was toxic. I held my breath and ran on until I saw a burning hole on one side of the cabin. I crawled out and ran at least 100 metres to ensure I was safe.”

Altogether 96 people, including five crew members, boarded the plane, sources in the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said. Five of the passengers were children.

Officials in Yichun said that 18 officials from Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and its provincial branches were also on board. They were heading for a meeting in Yichun.

The jet broke into two pieces before it smashed into the ground and exploded. Most of the casualties were found in the back of the cabin.

The cause of the crash is still being probed.

Vice Minister of Civil Aviation Li Jian said it would take a while to publish the result of the investigation.

“It’s hard to make any assumption right now, but we will publish, step by step, what we can rule out.”

The black box was retrieved Wednesday morning.

Of the five-member crew, two have survived. They are the captain and an attendant.

The plane is owned by Henan Airlines.

Henan Airlines flies smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and northeast China. Previously known as Kunpeng Airlines, the carrier was relaunched as Henan Airlines earlier this year.

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