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Fact check on viral posts about plane crash | Updated: 2022-03-25 17:41
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Rescuers conduct search and rescue work at a plane crash site in Tengxian county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, March 24, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5735 crashed in a mountainous area in Wuzhou city of South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region with 132 passengers and crew onboard on Monday afternoon.

As the search and rescue efforts continue, there has also been many false information or rumors spreading. Here we debunk some of the widespread misinformation.


Some allege that Flight MU5735 crashed because China Eastern Airlines had repaired the pickle fork of the plane by itself.


A pickle fork is a component that connects an airplane's body and its wing structure. The crashed aircraft did not require a repair in the pickle fork and therefore did not undergo one, according to the airline.

[File photo/VCG]

The crashed plane is a Boeing 737-800 aircraft registered B-1791. It was 6.8 years old and flew a total of 8,986 flights, far from the inspection standard of 22,600.

In October 2019, the US Federal Aviation Administration ordered emergency inspections of Boeing 737 NG planes, including 737-800s, after pickle fork cracks were found. Just over 1,000 airplanes globally underwent inspection at that time, including one aircraft with China Eastern Airlines' Yunnan branch. The technicians from Yunnan worked with Boeing to give a professional joint inspection for the aircraft, which met the airworthiness standards of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The aircraft that received inspection was retired on Sept 8, 2020.


Some reports said the airlines has been strictly controlling maintenance expense and cutting costs due to its loss estimated to be more than 10 billion yuan ($1.57 billion) in 2021 and suggested this was one of the reasons of the crash.


China Eastern Airlines said that contrary to these reports, to ensure safety, its maintenance costs have increased instead, though the COVID-19 resulted in fewer flights.

China Eastern aircraft on the tarmac at the international airport in Yantai, Shandong province. [File photo by Tang Ke/for China Daily]

The maintenance costs rose 12 percent in 2021 compared with 2019. As China Eastern Airlines is a listed company, the figures are open and transparent for check, a company official said.


Shortly after the crash happened, a video showing dense smoke and flames coming out from a mountain forest, with people speaking in dialect in the background, was posted online and believed by many to be the scene of the crash, which caused a forest fire.


Some Chinese netizens stated that the fire in this video happened on March 20 in East China's Fujian province and the dialect in the background was not Wuzhou's.

This video showing dense smoke and flames coming out from a mountain forest, which went viral, has been confirmed not of the site of the plane crash. [Photo from web]

Authorities in Longyan city of Fujian later confirmed to Modern Express newspaper that the video is about a forest fire caused by a local village's ancestor worship rituals on March 20.

Photo taken with a mobile phone shows the plane crash site in Tengxian county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, March 21, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Many of the rumors online involve the cause of the crash, which is still under investigation and what people are most concerned about.

Remember the only authoritative information of the cause of the crash will come from the investigation team.

Also, two different photos allegedly of the crew on the flight appeared online, both of which turned out to be photos of staff at other airlines.

The name list of the passengers and crew aboard the flight has not been released to the public so far.

It is advised to not to believe easily and share unconfirmed information.

Please visit our special coverage page on the plane crash to read more.

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