A piece of metal found by an elderly farmer six miles from the crash site of a China Eastern Airlines flight could give a clue as to what happened to the downed Boeing 737
A farmer has found a piece of metal suspected to belong to the doomed China Eastern Airlines flight, that may be able to shed light on why it crashed.
Mystery remains as to what caused the Boeing 737 plane to suddenly nose dive as it headed from Kunming to Guangzhou killing 123 passengers and nine crew.
It appears to have crashed into remote hillside at around 350mph and while investigators have found a black box it is uncertain if data can be retrieved from it due to its damaged state.
Search teams have been looking through the debris at the crash site for clues as to what happened, but now it seems as though they will need to extend the area.
Investigations have been made more difficult by hilly and forested terrain in the Guangxi region while there has also been heavy rain making the land muddy and susceptible to landslides.
AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)
Around six miles from the crash site, farmer Huang Jianyi, 80, said he found a piece of metal while working on a paddy field in the village of Siwang.
“I saw a piece of metal. It was white,” said Huang, reported the South China Morning Post, spreading his arms out wide to indicate its large dimensions.
It was later found and it raises questions now over whether the plane broke up in the sky.
Zheng Xi, head of the Guangxi regional fire and rescue office, reportedly said the piece of suspected wreckage was about 1.3 metres long and 10cm wide.
Huang’s son Chen Zhuchang, 40, reported the sighting of the metal strip to the police.
“It was a long white strip that bends when picked up, it had a slight curve, and it wasn’t heavy,” he told the SCMP.
“There was a small area of blue paint at the centre of the strip. When I saw this, my first thought was that it could be aircraft debris.”
As recovery crews sifted through debris, dozens of relatives of those on board flight MU5735 remained nearby in an anxious wait for further news.
One was Qin Haitao who comes from neighbouring Hunan province and his daughter, Shujun, was a passenger on the flight on Monday.
Guangzhou-based migrant worker Shujun, 40, had travelled to Kunming to accompany her mother to see a specialist doctor she had heard was very good.
“We couldn’t believe it and didn’t dare say anything, for fear that my wife would not be able to bear it,” Qin said, when describing the moment he heard the news of the crash.
“Our eyes were full of tears but we dared not weep. In fact, we knew the truth, but we kept it from her for a night, for half a day plus one night.”
AFP via Getty Images)
Qin said he initially received no official confirmation about his daughter’s situation but on Monday night his brother-in-law went to Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport, where the flight was scheduled to arrive.
There, he was shown a list of the passengers’ names, which included Shujun’s.
On Tuesday, Qin, his son and two others drove to Wuzhou and the next day visited the crash site accompanied by staff and volunteers from China Eastern.
“It’s so painful,” he said in a broken voice, holding back tears. “We have nothing but grief now. We are living in grief every day.”
Rescue workers have reported finding human remains, pieces of personal belongings of the passengers and debris from the plane.
“Many family members were burning incense,” Qin said, about the visit to the crash site.
“I prayed and put my daughter’s name there. It happened to be her birthday that same day…so I said: ‘Dad came to see you, my child. Happy birthday’.”
After that visit to the site, Qin has largely stayed at his hotel with his son, Shujun’s elder brother and only sibling. Shujun herself leaves behind a teenage daughter.
“We don’t have any requests now,” Qin said. “Our only request is to find my daughter’s body as soon as possible and bring her home.”