China Eastern plane crash second ‘black box’ found

The second “black box” has been recovered from the crash of a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 that killed all 132 people on board last week, Chinese state media said Sunday.

Firefighters taking part in the search found the recorder, an orange cylinder, on a mountain slope about five feet underground, state broadcaster CCTV said. Experts confirmed it was the second black box. The impact of the crash scattered debris widely and created a 65-foot-deep pit in the side of the mountain.

Searchers had been looking for the flight data recorder after finding the cockpit voice recorder four days ago. The two recorders should help investigators determine what caused the plane to plummet from 29,000 feet and into a forested mountainside in southern China.

The search for the black boxes and wreckage from the plane has been complicated by the remote setting and rainy and muddy conditions. Video posted by CGTN, the international arm of CCTV, showed an official holding the orange can-like object on site with the words “RECORDER” and “DO NOT OPEN” written on it. It appeared slightly dented but intact.

Workers carry plane crash piecesRescuers carry a piece of plane wreckage at the site of Monday’s plane crash in Tengxian County, southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on March 25.AP

Flight MU5735 crashed Monday en route from the city of Kunming in southeastern China to Guangzhou, a major city and export manufacturing hub near Hong Kong. An air traffic controller tried to contact the pilots several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply but got no reply, officials have said.

The cockpit voice recorder, also an orange cylinder, was found two days later on Wednesday. It has been sent to Beijing for examination and analysis.

Hundreds of searchers have been combing the site outside the city of Wuzhou for days with shovels and other hand tools. Construction excavators have been brought in to remove earth and clear passageways to the site, and pumps are being used to drain collected water from the rain.

Officials announced late Saturday that there were no survivors among the 123 passengers and nine crew members. DNA analysis has confirmed the identities of 120 of the people on board, they said. Searchers have found ID and bank cards belonging to the victims.

Pieces of plane crashSearch and rescuer workers conduct continued search operations at the China Eastern flight crash site in Tengxian County on Saturday, March 26 in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous RegionLu Boan/Xinhua via AP

China Eastern, one of China’s four major airlines, and its subsidiaries have grounded all of their Boeing 737-800s, a total of 223 aircraft. The carrier said the grounding was a precaution, not a sign of any problem with the planes.

The Boeing Co. said in a statement that a Boeing technical team is supporting the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which will lead the investigation into the crash.

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