BEIJING — The second “black box” from a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 was found Sunday, raising hopes that it might shed light on why the passenger plane nosedived into a remote mountainous area in southern China last week, killing all 132 people on board.
State media reported that firefighters who took part in the search located the flight data recorder at a slope on the mountainside, about 40m (130ft) away from the impact point and 1.5m (5ft) below ground. Experts have confirmed that it is the second blackbox. It was a crash that created a pit 20 meters (65 feet) in depth on the mountain side and spread debris throughout the area.
Four days after discovering the cockpit voice recorder, searchers began to look for the data recording device. These two black boxes will help investigators find out what caused the plane’s plummet to 29,000ft (8.800m) just over an hour before its descent.
Searches for black boxes and other wreckage have been complicated by the remote location and the wet and muddy environment. Images posted by CGTN, the international arm of CCTV, showed an official holding an orange cylindrical object on site with the words “FLIGHT RECORDER” and “DO NOT OPEN” written on it. Although it appeared slightly dented, the object was intact.
For three minutes, the search was stopped Sunday afternoon to allow for silence for all 123 passengers as well as nine crew members. The emergency workers removed their helmets, while the police and soldiers took off their caps. They stood in formation and bowed as sirens were blaring.
Flight MU5735 was on its way from Kunming, in southeast China to Guangzhou. It is a large city near Hong Kong and an important export hub. An air traffic controller tried to contact the pilots several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply but got no reply, officials have said.
On Wednesday, the orange-colored cockpit voice recorder was also found. It was sent to Beijing to be examined and analysed, while the flight data recorder is being sent to Beijing to decode.
With shovels, other tools and for many days search teams have been exploring the area outside of Wuzhou. Excavators and pumps have been used to pump the water collected from the rain. Officials confirmed that monitoring equipment has been set up to monitor the rainfall and detect any potential landslides.
Officials said late Saturday there had been no survivors. They stated that DNA testing has proved the identity of 120 people aboard the ship. The victims’ IDs and bank cards were found by searchers.
Boeing Co. stated in a statement, that it was supporting both the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NATB) and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which will be leading the investigation into this crash.
China Eastern, one of China’s four major airlines, and its subsidiaries have grounded all of their Boeing 737-800s, a total of 223 aircraft. The airline stated that the precautionary grounding of the planes was not an indication of any serious problems.
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