BEIJING (AP) — Chinese officials said on Thursday that the search for wreckage from last week’s crash of a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 was essentially complete and more than 49,000 pieces of debris had been found. .
Flight MU5735 plunged 29,000 feet (8,800 meters) into a mountainside in the Guangxi region of southern China, killing all 132 people on board. The impact created a crater 20 meters (65 ft) deep, sparked a fire in the surrounding forest, and shattered the aircraft into small parts scattered over a large area, some buried underground.
Zhu Tao, director of aviation safety with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, told a news conference in nearby Wuzhou that important parts including the horizontal stabilizer, engine and remains from the right wing tip, had been recovered after almost 10 days. research, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The investigation into the cause of the crash faces several challenges, including the fact that the plane plunged without warning, air traffic controllers received no response from the pilots after it began to fall and debris are so small.
More than 22,000 cubic meters (800,000 cubic feet) of soil was excavated and 49,117 pieces of the plane were found, said Zhang Zhiwen, a Guangxi government official. The search was made more difficult by rain and muddy conditions in this remote and steep location.
The two “black boxes” – the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder – were found and sent to Beijing for examination and analysis. Zhu said a preliminary investigation report would be completed within 30 days of the March 21 accident.
A team of US investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and advisers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration obtained visas to travel to China to participate in the investigation, under long-standing international agreements.
Engine maker CFM will support the investigation but will not send anyone to China, the NTSB said, correcting an earlier announcement that company representatives would be part of the traveling team.
The China Eastern flight, with 123 passengers and nine crew members, was heading southwest from Kunming city, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, a major city and export manufacturing center near from Hong Kong in southeast China.
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