Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Airliner crashes off north-east China
A China Northern Airline MD-82 airliner
The MD-82 airliner crashed into the sea
A China Northern Airlines plane carrying 112 people has crashed into the sea near Dalian in north-east China.

The official Xinhua News Agency said more than 60 bodies had been found and there was little hope of finding any survivors.

Witnesses quoted by Xinhua said the plane - Flight 6136 - crashed into the sea some 20 km (12 miles) east of Dalian airport.

Liu Jiqing, a loader at Dalian port, said he saw the plane "making several circles before plunging into the sea".

The MD-82 airliner was flying from Beijing to Dalian, with 103 passengers and nine crew members.

Eight foreigners - from Japan and South Korea - were among the passengers. But the majority were Dalian residents, likely to be travelling back to work after China's week-long Labour Day holiday.

'Intense fire'

Ground controllers reportedly lost contact with the plane at 2132 (1332 GMT) after its captain reported that a fire had broken out in the cabin.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield -Hayes, who is at the scene, says there is speculation that there was an intense fire on board moments before the crash.

When they heard the news, fishermen set off in their boats on their own accord


Dalian port official

Xinhua says rescuers found a food trolley that had been burned black and broken in half, indicating the seriousness of the fire.

More than 30 rescue ships raced to the crash site.

"We sent every boat we could find," said a Dalian port authority official.

"When they heard the news, fishermen set off in their boats of their own accord," he said.

However, there have been no reports of survivors and the rescue effort is being hampered by darkness.


Previous crashes

News of the crash came soon after an EgyptAir plane carrying 65 people crashed while trying to land near Tunisia's capital Tunis.

Egyptian officials said there were at least 20 deaths, but many of those on board are said to have survived.

  Click here for further details

The Dalian crash is the second involving a Chinese airline in less than a month.

On 15 April, 129 people died when an Air China Boeing 767 crashed into a fog-covered mountain in South Korea.

South Korean officials have suggested pilot error was to blame in that crash.

China Northern Airlines, established in 1990, is based in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning. It has 24 MD-82s among its fleet.

from this link


May 8, 2002 - (UPDATE) - Chinese Plane Crashes Into Sea, 112 Feared Dead

BEIJING, China - A China Northern Airlines plane plunged into the sea off
the northeast coastal city of Dalian on Tuesday night after its crew
reported a fire in the cabin, and all 112 aboard were feared dead.

Chinese warships and tugs combed the dark waters overnight, recovering
60 bodies, but hopes of finding survivors were dim, rescue workers and
state media said on Wednesday.

The twin-engined McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 crashed about 10 km off the coast
at around 9.40 p.m. (1340 GMT) as it was coming in to land on Tuesday,
minutes after the captain reported the fire, Xinhua news agency said.

The aircraft made several circles before suddenly plunging into the sea
with its lights out, Xinhua quoted Dalian port worker Liu Jiqing as saying.

Another worker at Dalian port said he was surprised by the noise of the
impact. "Ambulances and police poured in and I knew it was a crash," he
told Reuters.

"The rescue workers found a pushcart used for serving food that has been
burned black and (broken) in half, which indicates the seriousness of the
fire," Xinhua said.

Xinhua said there was little hope of finding anyone who survived the crash --
China's second in less than a month.
On April 15, an Air China Boeing 767 crashed into a South Korean mountain
in thick fog on route from Beijing to Pusan, killing 122 in the airline's
first crash.

Thirty-eight people survived and six are unaccounted for.


The China Northern crash brought a grim end to the week-long Labour Day
holidays, during which millions of domestic travellers toured the country and
airlines laid on extra flights.

A rescue official told Reuters from Dalian a flotilla of more than 30 tugs
was combing the sea for possible survivors and picking up pieces of

"It looks unlikely that we will have any survivors," a rescue official at
Dalian port told Reuters.

The aircraft was carrying 103 passengers and nine crew. The official
People's Daily Web site said eight foreigners -- including two from Japan and two
from South Korea (news - web sites) -- were on board.

President Jiang Zemin (news - web sites) and Premier Zhu Rongji ordered
aviation, police and transport agencies and the military to "fully organise
and support rescue efforts".

At Beijing's Capital Airport, China Northern Airline workers were seen
reviewing tickets and passenger lists to identify those on board the plane,
but they declined to comment.

Most of the passengers were from the Yellow Sea city of Dalian. Family
members gathered in city hotels to await word on the fate of their relatives.

Police had begun DNA testing to identify victims of the disaster and a State
Council, or cabinet, investigation team landed in Dalian early on Wednesday,
Xinhua said.

Ground controllers lost contact with the plane at 9.32 p.m after its captain
reported the fire in the cabin and the aircraft crashed eight minutes later,
it said.

The flight left Beijing at 8.37 p.m. (1237 GMT) and was due to land at
Dalian's Zhoushuizi Airport about an hour later.

Chris Yates, air safety expert with aviation and defence publishers Jane's,
said there were many potential causes for fire in aircraft, including smoking
and faulty electrical wiring.

"I imagine that investigators will consider a particular type of electrical
that might have overheated and caused the fire in the Chinese plane,"
he said.


It was the second deadly crash for the Shenyang-based airline, which
according to China Northern's Web site had 24 MD-82s in its fleet of
more than 80 aircraft.

In November 1993, an MD-82 operated by China Northern crashed while
landing in the northwestern city of Urumuqi, killing 12 and injuring seven.

The plane that crashed on Tuesday was delivered in July 1991 and had
logged 26,000 flight hours on 16,000 flights, according to Boeing.

It was one of 35 MD-80 series jets assembled from McDonnell Douglas parts
kits at a Shanghai factory. Thirty of those went to Chinese carriers and five
were shipped back to U.S. carrier TWA.

China's worst crash occurred in June 1994 when a Russian-built
Tupolev-154 operated by China Northwest Airlines en route from
the tourist city of Xian to Guangzhou crashed less than 10 minutes after
take-off, killing all 160 people on board.



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