Gaping holes reveal oxygen masks entangled with seats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 1997, 12:00am

Investigators dragged the wreckage of the plane to a nearby repair shop where they were seen beating the fuselage with hammers.

The nose, port side wing and both engines appeared badly burned, while gaping holes exposed the totally destroyed cabin interior.

Emergency oxygen masks could be seen entangled with crushed seats, some of which were upside down.

Engineering staff of the China Southern Airlines Maintenance and Repair Station climbed up on the tail and used their bare hands to rock the broken starboard wing. Others hit the fuselage with hammers.

One member of staff was seen scraping the airline's logo off the tail-fin.

One worker said: 'Bad weather should be blamed for our problems. Heavy rain makes it difficult for pilots to see clearly, and creates very slippery runway conditions.

'When the accident took place, the rain was very heavy. The plane was late. Our maintenance team was standing by at the airport, preparing to do our last regular electrical and mechanical checks before we finished off for the night.

'But the plane crashed into pieces, and we need to find out why.' Two shifts of regular maintenance and repair workers, technicians and engineers examine all incoming flights.

It is understood the plane was given a regular preflight check by workers in Chongqing before it took off.

A foreign engineer who saw the wreckage said he believed mechanical problems may have caused the engines to catch fire during the landing.