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Passengers from China were on business
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08:22, June 03, 2009

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A six-member purchasing team from a steel company, a technology executive and a businessman were among the nine Chinese on the Air France plane which is presumed to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Monday.

The ninth person has not yet been identified, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Flight 447, an Airbus 330-200 bound for Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, lost contact with the control center shortly after taking off from Rio de Janeiro on Sunday at 7 pm (6 am on Monday, Beijing time) with 228 people on board.

Brazilian search planes reported spotting debris in the Atlantic Ocean yesterday that could be wreckage of the plane.

Authorities from both France and Brazil have said they expect no survivors from the crash.

Among the Chinese on the plane was a team of six from Liaoning-based Benxi Iron & Steel (Group), which was in Brazil for talks on buying iron ore.

The company would not reveal their names but insiders said the team included Chen Chiping, deputy manager of the group's international trade division and wife of Liaoning deputy governor Liu Guoqiang; and Li Mingwen, the group's deputy general manager.

The remaining four are Zhang Qingbo, assistant to the group general manager, Sun Lianyou, the group's iron mill director, and two other employees, Shen Zuobing and Gao Xing.

The other two identified passengers aboard are Zhuo Jiachun, 27, who worked with Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies, and 35-year-old Zhejiang businessman Chen Qingwei, who was seeking investment immigrant status in Brazil.

Liu Dahong, Benxi Iron & Steel's public relations executive, said yesterday that the trip to Brazil was planned long ago.

They left China on May 17 for Australia before heading to Brazil, and planned to return to China yesterday, he said.

As there is no direct flight between Brazil and China, passengers usually transit in Paris.

Liu said the group plans to expand steel production to 13.6 million tons by 2012, up from 10 million tons in 2007, but the mines it owns in China can supply only 60 percent of the demand.

The company has sent personnel to console families of the missing people, he said.

Huawei Technologies said in a statement yesterday that an employee was on board the missing flight, but did not release any personal information or why he was on the flight.

But one of his colleagues in Brazil, who did not want to be named, told China Daily yesterday over the phone that Zhuo was married last year just before he was assigned to the company's office in Rio de Janeiro,

The company said it has assisted family members of the missing employees to obtain visas to France and Brazil. "We will deal with the aftermath of the incident properly and give all support to family members," said the statement.

It is not the first time that a Huawei employee has been in a plane crash: In 2007, a 29-year-old employee was among 114 people on board a Kenya Airways plane from Cameroon to Nairobi that crashed shortly after take-off on May 5.

"We travel a lot, flying from one country to another. Whenever we read reports of an air crash somewhere in the world, we all pray there is no Huawei staff on the plane," an employee of Huawei said in condition of anonymity.

"After hearing the accident, we all prayed for Zhuo Jiachun. We hope miracles happen," the employee said.

Source: China Daily

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