Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Dozens Killed After Plane Bursts Into Flames

The Henan Airlines flight came down in the northeastern city of Yichun, Heilongjiang province, at about 2.10pm GMT, state media said.

Dozens of bodies were found where the plane split apart at Yichun airport, city official Jin Yi told the China News Service (CNS).

The other 53 people on board "have all been taken to hospital for treatment, and at present none is in danger of loss of life", the report said, citing Mr Jin.

Their injuries included burns, cuts and broken limbs.

"The plane split apart on grass 1.5km from the runway and a small explosion happened as it did," Sun Bangnan, a deputy chief of police in Heilongjiang.

Other Chinese news reports, citing unnamed witnesses or sources, said the plane began to fall apart or burst into flames before it overshot the runway.

The flight had taken off from Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province.

Rescue teams do not expect to find any further survivors.

"Because some passengers were thrown out of the cabin when the accident happened, their chances of survival are slim," said the official.

Yichun airport is a small domestic airport which opened only last year.

It is one of an increasing number of airports built in remote parts of China to help boost economic development.

Henan Airlines and many other regional Chinese airlines flying shorter routes have struggled in the past few years.

They have been losing passengers to high-speed railroad lines that China has aggressively expanded.

The country's last major civilian plane crash was in northern Inner Mongolia, in 2004.

A CRJ200 operated by China Eastern Airlines came down in a frozen lake shortly after take-off, killing more than 50 people.

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