Doubts surround China's plane crash probe

08:16, August 27, 2010      

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Liu Hang, Chairman of the Auditing Committee of Henan Airlines, bows to apologize in the press conference in Yichun, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Aug. 26, 2010. The air crash in Yichun late Tuesday killed 42 while the remaining 54 surviving the fiery disaster. (Xinhua/Li Yong)
Two days after the deadliest commercial plane crash in China in nearly six years killed 42 people in a remote northeastern city, doubts and speculations continue to swirl and no progress has been reported in the government investigation.

A brief press conference was held Thursday afternoon -- the first in more than 40 hours after a Brazil-made ERJ-190 turbine jet run by Henan Airlines crashed at Lindu Airport of Yichun, Heilongjiang Province.

But officials and an airline executive who addressed the conference did not say what caused the accident or whether their data analysis of the two black boxes found on Wednesday had achieved any results.

"The black boxes have been sent to Beijing and our specialists are still working on the data," said Lu Xue'er, an official in charge of aviation safety at the General Administration of Civil Aviation (CAAC).

A representative from Henan Airlines offered an apology and condolences to the victims and their families.

"We're grieved over the tragedy," said Liu Hang, Chairman of the Supervisory Board the airline. "Our condolences for the dead and apologies to all the victims, their families and the whole society."

He said his company had opened 24-hour hotlines at its headquarters in Zhengzhou, central Henan Province, Harbin and Yichun to help victims' family members arrange their trips.

Two local government officials also attended the press conference, which lasted for about 10 minutes and left no time for questions.

Before the press conference, everyone stood in silence tribute to mourn the dead.

Tuesday night's disaster ended CAAC's record 2,102 days of safe air travel in China -- 69 months without an accident.

Of all the 96 people on board, 54 survived with injures. Most of them were hospitalized in Yichun and 15 serious cases were airlifted to Harbin Wednesday night.

Among the serious cases were five children, aged from 6 to 10. Four of them suffered burns and two were still in critical condition, said doctors in Harbin.

Yichun Airport reopened Thursday with the landing of an Airbus 320 run by China Southern Airlines early in the afternoon, carrying some family members of the victims. It flew back to Harbin shortly afterwards, carrying passengers who had been laid over Tuesday night.

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