ground, rain hinders search at plane crash site in China | world news

By DAKE KANG and NG HAN GUAN, Associated Press

WUZHOU, China (AP) — Rugged terrain and rainfall on Wednesday hampered the search for clues as to why a China Eastern plane inexplicably fell from the sky and crashed into a forested mountain earlier this week, likely killing locals. 132 people on board.

In rainy conditions, searchers using hand tools, drones and sniffer dogs scoured the crash site and a debris field spanning steep, heavily forested slopes in southern China for black boxes containing flight data and cockpit voice recorders, as well as any human remains.

Video clips released by Chinese state media showed small pieces of the Boeing 737-800 jet strewn across the area, some in green fields, others in burnt patches with exposed raw earth. Mud-stained wallets, bank and identity cards were also recovered. Each piece of debris has a number next to it, with larger ones marked with police tape.

Investigators say it is too early to speculate on the cause of the crash. Flight 5735 entered an unexplained dive one hour after departure and the aircraft stopped transmitting data 96 seconds after the dive began.

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It crashed Monday afternoon outside the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi region. The plane was flying from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, an industrial hub not far from Hong Kong on China’s southeast coast.

An air traffic controller tried to contact the pilots several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply, but got no response, said Zhu Tao, director of the Authority’s Aviation Safety Bureau. China’s civil aviation, grim-faced. Tuesday evening press conference.

“So far, the rescue has not yet found any survivors,” Zhu said. “The Public Security Department has taken control of the site.”

Kang reported from Kunming, China. Associated Press researcher Yu Bing and press assistant Caroline Chen in Beijing, researcher Si Chen in Shanghai, video producer Olivia Zhang in Wuzhou, China, writer Adam Schreck in Bangkok, and writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

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