42 killed in China plane crash

At least 42 people died when a passenger jet overshot a runway in north-east China today and burst into flames.

At least 42 people died when a passenger jet overshot a runway in north-east China today and burst into flames.

The Henan Airlines plane carrying 91 passengers and crew crashed in Heilongjiang province’s Yichun city, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It said 47 other passengers were rescued and taken to hospital.

China Central Television (CCTV) quoted Sun Bangnan, deputy director of the Heilonjiang Public Security Department, as saying that 42 bodies had been recovered and that 49 people had been rescued.

Wang Xuemei, vice mayor of Yichun, told CCTV that three of them were in a critical condition but gave no details.

The plane, which Xinhua said was a Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 jet, had taken off from Heilongjiang’s capital of Harbin shortly before 9pm local time (2pm BST) and crashed in heavy fog during landing at the Lindu airport a little more than an hour later.

An official at the Yichun No. 1 People’s Hospital said 30 people had been brought there for treatment, with most suffering broken bones.

A man at the Yichun Rehabilitation Hospital, which has burn specialists on site, said 10 survivors were transferred there with burn injuries.

Another eight survivors were at the Yichun Forestry Hospital, a duty officer said.

There were five children and five crew members on board, Xinhua cited an unnamed official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China as saying. It was not known how many of them survived.

Henan Airlines is based in the central Chinese province of the same name and flies smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and north-east China. Previously known as Kunpeng Airlines, the carrier was relaunched as Henan Airlines earlier this year.

Henan Airlines and many other regional Chinese airlines flying shorter routes have struggled in the past few years, losing passengers to high-speed railway lines that China has aggressively expanded.

Full-tilt expansion of Chinese air traffic in the 1990s led to a series of crashes that gave China the reputation of being unsafe. The poor record prompted the government to improve safety drastically.

The last major passenger jet crash in China was in November 2004, when an China Eastern plane plunged into a lake in northern China, killing all 53 on board and two on the ground.

An MD-11 cargo plane operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation crashed during take-off from Shanghai’s main airport last November. Three American crew members died while four others on board were injured.

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