Search ends with 49,000 pieces of plane found

Challenging task: Search and rescue workers removing the wing tip of the China Eastern Boeing 737-800 as they sift through debris at the crash site in Tengxian County. — AP

Officials said that the search for wreckage in last week’s crash of a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 is basically done and that more than 49,000 pieces of debris had been found.

Flight MU5735 plunged from 29,000 feet into a mountainside in southern China’s Guangxi region, killing all 132 people on board.

The impact created a 20m deep crater, set off a fire in the surrounding forest and smashed the plane into small parts scattered over a wide area, some of them buried underground.

Zhu Tao, the director of aviation safety for the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that important parts including the horizontal stabiliser, engine and remains of the right wing tip had been recovered after nearly 10 days of searching, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The investigation into the cause of the crash faces several challenges including that the plane plunged without warning, air traffic controllers got no reply from the pilots after it started falling and the pieces of debris are so small.

More than 22,000 cubic metres of soil were excavated and 49,117 pieces of the plane found, an official with the Guangxi government confirmed.

The search was made more difficult by rain and muddy conditions in the remote and steep location.

The two “black boxes” – the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder – have been sent to Beijing for examination and analysis.

Zhu said a preliminary investigation report would be completed within 30 days of the March 21 crash. — AP

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