Jet misses runway, crashes in China; 42 killed

In this cell phone photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, rescuers work at the site of a reported plane crash at an airport in northeast China's Heilongjiang province on Aug. 24, 2010. According to Xinhua, the plane overshot the runway in Yichun city and burst into flames. (Associated Press)In this cell phone photo released by China’s Xinhua news agency, rescuers work at the site of a reported plane crash at an airport in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province on Aug. 24, 2010. According to Xinhua, the plane overshot the runway in Yichun city and burst into flames. (Associated Press)
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BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese passenger jet overshot a fog-shrouded runway in the country’s northeast and burst into flames Tuesday, killing 42 people and injuring 49 others, state media said.

The Henan Airlines plane with 91 passengers and crew crashed in Heilongjiang province’s Yichun city, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China Central Television quoted Sun Bangnan, deputy director of the Heilonjiang Public Security Department, as saying that 42 bodies had been recovered and that 49 people were rescued and taken to local hosptials.

Wang Xuemei, vice mayor of Yichun, told CCTV that three of them were in critical condition but gave no details.

The plane, which Xinhua said was Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 jet, had taken off from Heilongjiang’s capital of Harbin shortly before 9 p.m. and crashed in heavy fog during landing at the Lindu airport a little more than an hour later.

In this December 2009 photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, a Henan Airlines plane, reported by Xinhua to be the same model of aircraft that crashed Tuesday at an airport in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, lands near Xiaoshan airport in Zhejiang province. (AP Photo/Xinhua)

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An official surnamed Qi at the Yichun No. 1 People’s Hospital said 30 people had been brought there for treatment, with most suffering broken bones.

A man who would only give his surname, Wang, at the Yichun Rehabilitation Hospital, which has burn specialists on site, said 10 survivors were transferred there with burn injuries.

Another eight survivors were at the Yichun Forestry Hospital, said a duty officer surnamed Zhou. He said he did not know the nature of their injuries.

There were five children and five crew members on board, Xinhua cited an unnamed official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China as saying. It was not known how many of them survived.

Henan Airlines is based in the central Chinese province of the same name and flies smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and northeast China. Previously known as Kunpeng Airlines, the carrier was relaunched as Henan Airlines earlier this year.

Henan Airlines and many other regional Chinese airlines flying shorter routes have struggled in the past few years, losing passengers to high-speed railroad lines that China has aggressively expanded.

An American company, Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group Inc., was an original investor in Henan’s predecessor company, Kunpeng, but divested its stake last year. Mesa operates regional services in the U.S. for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and other carriers and is undergoing bankruptcy reorganization.

Full-tilt expansion of Chinese air traffic in the 1990s led to a series of crashes that gave China the reputation of being unsafe. The poor record prompted the government to improve safety drastically, from airlines to new air traffic management systems at airports.

The last major passenger jet crash in China was in November 2004, when an China Eastern airplane plunged into a lake in northern China shortly, killing all 53 on board and two on the ground.

An MD-11 cargo plane operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation crashed during takeoff from Shanghai’s main airport last November. Three American crew members died while four others on board were injured.

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