China plane crash: Search teams find flight’s black box

Search teams have found a black box from the China Eastern flight which nosedived into mountains in southern China this week, state media report.

Chinese aviation officials announced the finding at a press conference on Wednesday, after two days of searching.

Authorities are still yet to report the number of dead, but it is feared none of the 132 people onboard survived the high-altitude crash.

Investigators still do not know why the plane plummeted out of the sky.

Mao Yanfeng, director of the civil aviation accident investigation department, told reporters there had been “no dangerous weather” on the plane’s route at the time of the crash.

He added the plane’s crew and air traffic control had maintained normal communication until the plane’s sudden drop in altitude.

At the same press conference, China Eastern Airlines chairman Sun Shiying said the plane had been deemed airworthy and had met required maintenance standards, reported Xinhua.

The crash is likely China’s most deadly aviation incident in three decades, and has prompted a national outpouring of grief.

President Xi Jinping has called for a full-scale investigation, and the government has dispatched hundreds of rescuers, soldiers, experts and other workers to the site in the remote hillside regions of Guangxi province.

On Wednesday, the devastated families of the 127 passengers and nine crew on board the flight also arrived at the crash site, gathering in the small village closest to the scene.

They were escorted by officials carrying umbrellas as they entered Lu village.One 57-year-old man, who lost his sister-in law, told the waiting media: “All I want is hope, the hope of survival.”

Hundreds of search workers have been scouring the forested region of Wuzhou, in search of the plane’s black box recorders amid the wreckage and charred debris.

Authorities have said that they have not found any survivors so far, and rescue crews have yet to find any bodies.

However teams have recovered many personal items belonging to passengers and crew on board the flight including purses, wallets and even identity cards.

Flight MU5735 had been in the air for more than an hour on Monday and was nearing its Guangzhou destination when it suddenly dropped from its cruising height.

Air controllers had repeatedly called the aircraft during its descent but had received no response, authorities said on Tuesday.

Flight MU5735 altitude chart
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Flight tracker data showed the Boeing 737-800 jet dropped thousands of metres in under three minutes.

According to FlightRadar24, the plane was cruising at 29,100ft (about 9,000m), but two minutes and 15 seconds later it was recorded at 9,075ft. The last sourced information on the flight showed it ended at 14:22 local time, at an altitude of 3,225ft.

Aviation experts say the Boeing 737-800 model has a strong safety record, with thousands in service around the world. The aircraft that crashed was less than seven years old.

Investigators are expected to look at several possible causes – including deliberate action, pilot error, or technical issues such as a structural failure or mid-air collision.

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