Plane Crashes in Northeast China, Killing 42

Forty-two people were killed and 54 injured in a plane crash in northeastern China Tuesday night.

A passenger plane carrying 96 people tried to land in Yichun city's Lindu airport amid heavy fog, overshot the runway, broke into two pieces and caught fire.

The plane's black box was found Wednesday morning, said Xinhua News Agency, but the cause of the crash is still being investigated. Officials say it may be months, or even a year, before a verdict is delivered.

Henan Airlines' Embraer E-190 jet took off from Heilongjiang province's capital city, Harbin, shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday, crashing in Yichun roughly 40 minutes after it took off. Ninety-one passengers — including five children — and five crew members were onboard, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Xinhua officials corrected their previous body count from 43 to 42, explaining that one body had been torn apart in the crash and miscounted as two.

Qi Quanjun, the pilot, survived the crash and is currently recovering in Yichun First Hospital. Qi understood the questions but was unable to talk due to severe face injuries, doctors said.

"Qi Quanjun is badly injured and under intensive care," Mr. Yu, a hospital administrator, told ABC News. "But his condition is getting better and is not life-threatening."

Yu said the injured passengers are being treated in four hospitals throughout the city. There are currently 30 crash victims hospitalized at Yichun First.

"Most of them suffer fracture and internal injuries," Yu said. "But they're in good psychological condition."

One crash survivor, a middle-aged man lying in a hospital bed, told China Central Television station (CCTV) that turbulence during the plane's descent was very bad. Several heavy jerks caused luggage to fall from the overhead bins.

Survivors Share Their Experiences

"The [emergency exits] ... wouldn't open. Then the smoke came in... After two or three minutes, we couldn't breathe. I knew something bad was going to happen."

He and other passengers escaped through hole in the cabin wall near the first row of seats.

Another survivor, sporting a head bandage and bruised lip, said the rear of the plane hit the ground first.

"Panicked people all rushed to the front," he told state television.

Some passengers were thrown from the plane, said Kang, and their bodies were found outside the plane wreckage.

Survivor Xue Xilai, who suffers a broken lumbar and is being treated at Yichun City Hospital, lost consciousness after the accident and woke up in his hospital bed.

"I looked out [of the plane] and couldn't see anything," Xue said. "It was pitch dark and there was no light... I felt that something was seriously wrong."

The jet broke into two pieces before the crash and exploded at 9:36 p.m., local officials told Xinhua. The wreckage is roughly 1.24 miles from the runway. Airport staff said the blaze was extinguished temporarily, but flames reignited the crash site in the middle of the night.

Rescue crews were finishing up the search and starting to clear the debris from the ground at 6 a.m. Wednesday. State television broadcasted firefighters dousing the burning fuselage with hoses while enveloped in a heavy fog. Other rescuers were digging through the wreckage, looking for survivors.

Maintenance crews are still working to clear the fuselage, Ms. Kang, Lindu airport employee, told ABC News.

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