Challenging Search at Muddy Crash Site Yields 49K Debris Pieces

All 132 on board China Eastern Flight MU5735 died in March 21 accident; search is now ending
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2022 8:48 AM CDT
49K Pieces of Debris Later, Search at Crash Site Is Ending
In this photo, rescuers carry a piece of plane wreckage from the China Eastern flight crash site in Tengxian County, in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Friday.   (Zhou Hua/Xinhua via AP, File)

Chinese officials said Thursday 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 65-foot-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, per the AP. Zhu Tao, the director of aviation safety for the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said at a news conference in the nearby city of Wuzhou that important parts—including the horizontal stabilizer, engine, and remains of the right wing tip—had been recovered after nearly 10 days of searching, according to the official 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 800,000 cubic feet of soil were excavated and 49,117 pieces of the plane found, said Zhang Zhiwen, an official with the Guangxi government. 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 found and sent to Beijing for analysis. Zhu said a preliminary investigation report would be completed within 30 days of the March 21 crash.

A team of US investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and advisers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration have been granted visas to travel to China to take part in the investigation, under long-standing international agreements. Engine manufacturer CFM will support the investigation but 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 headed from the southwestern city of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, a major city and export manufacturing hub to the east, near Hong Kong.

(Read more plane crash stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.