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Airliner crash kills 54 near Baotou
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-22 08:07

A China Eastern plane crashed yesterday shortly after it took off from an airport in North China, killing 54.

The wreckage of the crashed Mu5210 flight. [newsphoto]
All 47 passengers and six crew members aboard the plane were confirmed dead. Among them was an Indonesian, China Eastern officials said. A man on the ground also died, local police said.

President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Huang Ju have shown their concern for the dead and ordered a thorough investigation into the accident and measures to prevent such tragedies.

The small CRJ-200 aircraft supplied by Canadian-based Bombardier Aerospace fell to the ground at about 8:20 am, only about a dozen seconds after it had taken off from Baotou in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

China Eastern Airlines has suspended all flights on its Bombardier-supplied planes for the moment, according to Xinhua.

The plane, which had been scheduled to fly from Baotou to China's eastern metropolis of Shanghai, crashed into a frozen lake in Baotou's Nanhai Park.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim. All bodies have been recovered. [Xinhua]
Witnesses said the plane broke into flaming fragments. A house beside the park was damaged by the falling aircraft and several yachts nearby were scorched.

Wang Yongqiang, a resident who lives near Nanhai park was watching local people's wintertime swimming, when he said he was taken aback by a plane plummeting from the sky with thick black smoke coming from its tail section.

The plane seemed to stall for a few seconds and dropped to the lake with an explosion, Wang was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

"Smoke and flames rose to 100 metres in height," he said.

Local firefighters received the report of the accident at 8:24 am, said Guo Tierui, a press official with the Fire Department of Baotou Public Security Bureau.

Rescuers try to lift the plane wreckage out of the lake in Baotou, Inner Mongolia November 21, 2004. [newsphoto]
"When we rushed to the scene, the lake had become a sea of fire and fragments of the aircraft and ice were scattered everywhere," he said.

The man who died on the ground was reportedly a worker at the Nanhai Park. His body was discovered near a park ticket office.

The remains of all 53 victims on the plane were retrieved from the lake. But the flight data recorders, or so-called black boxes, typically installed aboard airliners have not yet been found.

Shortly after the accident was reported, local officials arrived to organize recovery operations.

More than 400 people, including local firefighters, police officers, park staff and a 20-member dive team from Baotou Iron and Steel, a major steel producer based in the city, have joined the effort.

Several hours after the tragedy, an investigative team flew from Beijing to Baotou to handle the case.

Included are Wang Xianzheng, head of the State Work Safety Administration and Wang Changchun, deputy chief of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), according to CAAC officials.

The doomed plane belonged to the airlines' subsidiary in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

It is the first plane crash that occurred in Inner Mongolia in 45 years, according to the regional work safety administrative office.

Hu expresses condolences over air crash

Chinese President Hu Jintao has extended his sincere condolences to the relatives of the passengers and crew members that died during an air crash in north China.

Early Sunday morning, a Bombardier CRJ-200 of the China Eastern Airlines crashed at the suburb of Baotou City, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, seconds after it took off for the eastern China metropolis Shanghai, killing 53 people aboard and one more on the ground.

Hu said he felt very grieved when hearing of the accident and expressed his deep and sincere condolences.

"The related authorities must appropriately handle the remaining problems, find out the causes of the accident and prevent further occurrence of similar accidents," said Hu, who is on visit abroad.

In order to organize and guide the accident rescue and investigation work, the State Council had sent a special team Sunday moon over to Baotou. The team members are from some seven central departments.

Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice-Premier Huang Ju and State Councilor Hua Jianmin have also given instructions requiring to promptly carry out the rescue and investigation work and urging the Inner Mongolia regional government to actively cooperate with the team.

Till the press time, the team has joined a local emergency handling group and started work at the accident site.

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