All 132 people on board China's crashed plane dead: official
All 132 people - 123 passengers and nine crew members - onboard the China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 that crashed on March 21 in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have perished, an official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China said Saturday night.
The crash took place on Monday when a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft, which was flying from Kunming to Guangzhou, nose-dived in a mountainous area in Tengxian County, Guangxi.
"By the relevant requirements of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council on the handling of the flight accident of China Eastern Airlines MU5735 aircraft, the national emergency response command has organized multiple departments, including members of fire rescue, People's Liberation Army commanders and soldiers, members of armed police, public security, health and quarantine, transportation and natural resources, to carry out a thorough search at the site for six consecutive days," said Hu Zhenjiang, on-site deputy commander-in-chief from the national emergency response command on handling the plane crash.
"And after organizing experts to analyze the video content in various monitoring and recording devices and the key data recorded by air traffic control radar, ADS-B and other facilities and equipment, especially though investigation, judgment, and analysis of the distribution of the wreckage at the crash site, we can confirm that there are no signs of life at the search site. One hundred and twenty of the 132 victims have been identified through DNA analysis," said Hu, who is also the deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce here that all 123 passengers and nine crew members on Flight MU5735 of China Eastern Airlines on March 21 have perished," added Hu.
To continue to respect life and take responsibility for the family members of every victim, the teams will redouble their efforts to search the accident site for the remains and belongings of the victims and aircraft wreckage, to provide strong support for accident investigation and evidence collection said, Hu.
At the same time, China will earnestly and properly handle any problems concerning the victims in the aftermath of the crash, added Hu.
"We are deeply saddened by the accident. We mourn the loss of the 132 lives and express deep sympathy to the bereaved families," said Hu.
At the press conference, all rose and paid a silent tribute to the victims.
At present, search efforts are still ongoing at the site for the second black box which could contain crucial flight operational data to help establish the cause of the crash.
China's emergency response command had dispatched 10,723 personnel to the site as of noon Saturday, said Zhu Tao, director of the Aviation Safety Office under the Civil Aviation Administration of China, at a press briefing in Wuzhou, Guangxi on Saturday.
A total of 24,047 pieces of plane wreckage and debris have so far been recovered and a storage facility has been set up for wreckage categorization and analysis, he said.
Rescuers, consisting of firefighters, armed police officers, and militiamen, recovered a black box and the cockpit voice recorder, on Wednesday afternoon and immediately send them to a laboratory in Beijing for decoding.
Rescuers on Saturday started their third round of combing the core area of the plane crash site, trying to search and collect plane wreckage, human remains, and other possible evidence, and hoping to find the second black box.
Lumbermen joined in the rescue Saturday, as lush woods pose a challenge to the search efforts.
A search operation is also being carried out in the vicinity of the core area, where rescuers are using infrared thermal imaging drones to locate suspected plane wreckage and then guide the operation with the help of 3D modeling.
As of Saturday afternoon, the scope of the search efforts has been expanded to cover nearly 240,000 square meters, according to Zheng Xi, head of the fire brigade in Guangxi.
Additionally, over 200 vehicles, five helicopters, and a batch of other facilities have also been involved in the search operation.