Researchers find second black box in East China plane crash

The second black box was recovered from the crash of a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 that killed all 132 people on board last week, Chinese state media said on Sunday.

Firefighters involved in the search found the recorder, an orange cylinder, on a mountain slope about 1.5 meters underground, state broadcaster CCTV said. Experts have confirmed that this is the second black box. The impact of the accident widely scattered the debris and created a pit 20 meters deep in the side of the mountain.

Searchers were looking for the flight data recorder after finding the cockpit voice recorder four days ago. The two recorders are expected to help investigators determine what caused the plane to plummet 8,800 meters and into a forested mountain in southern China.

The search for black boxes and aircraft debris was complicated by the remote setting and the rainy and muddy conditions. The video released by CGTN, the international arm of CCTV, showed an official holding the orange can-shaped object at the site with the words “RECORDER” and “DO NOT OPEN” written on it. It appeared slightly dented but intact.

Hundreds of researchers combing the site

Flight MU5735 crashed on Monday en route from the city of Kunming in southeast China to Guangzhou, a major city and export manufacturing hub near Hong Kong. An air traffic controller tried to contact the pilots several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply, but got no response, officials said.

The cockpit voice recorder, also an orange cylinder, was found two days later on Wednesday. It was sent to Beijing for examination and analysis.

Hundreds of researchers combed the site outside Wuzhou City for days with shovels and other hand tools. Construction excavators have been brought in to remove earth and clear passageways to the site, and pumps are used to drain collected rainwater.

Authorities announced on Saturday evening that there were no survivors among the 123 passengers and nine crew members. DNA analysis confirmed the identities of 120 of those on board, they said. The researchers found identity cards and bank cards belonging to the victims.

China Eastern, one of China’s four major airlines, and its subsidiaries have grounded all their Boeing 737-800s, a total of 223 aircraft. The carrier said the grounding was a precaution and not a sign of trouble with the planes.

Boeing Co. said in a statement that a technical team from Boeing is supporting the US National Transportation Safety Board and the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which will lead the investigation into the crash.