Tests may show crash's second ground death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 12:00am

Relatives of a middle-aged woman will have to wait for the results of DNA tests to know whether human remains found near the Baotou crash site of a Bombardier CRJ200 commuter plane are hers.

If confirmed, 53-year-old Gong Xilian would be the second fatality on the ground from Sunday's crash in Inner Mongolia , taking the death toll to 55.

Six crew members and 47 passengers died when the Shanghai-bound China Eastern Airlines passenger plane burst into flames less than a minute after takeoff and plunged into a frozen lake in Nanhai Park.

A park employee was also killed on the ground.

Gong was a morning regular at the park and was reported missing on Sunday after she did not return home. Her family identified fragments of her clothes found at the site when they went to a funeral home housing the victims' bodies.

DNA tests are also being conducted on blood samples taken from other people killed in the crash and their families.

The samples will be sent to other parts of the country for analysis because Baotou does not have facilities to conduct the tests, the Northern New Express reports.

Xinhua has released the full list of the dead passengers. Seventeen of the 47 passengers were Baotou residents and most of those on board were businessmen or local officials.

Temperatures in Baotou were forecast to plummet to minus-14 degrees Celsius today. Rescue organisers said the icy conditions were making their work difficult.

Wang Zhenliang , deputy director of the Ministry of Communications' Rescue and Salvage Bureau, said low water temperatures, a murky lake and uncertainty over the state of the plane's black box had impeded efforts to find the flight recorder.

One experienced pilot said pilot error could have caused the crash.

'It creates an unstable situation when a plane takes off at a low height with low speed,' the pilot said. 'It's possible the pilots spotted a problem and shifted their attention to the problem while neglecting to control the plane.'

According to the Beijing Times, a China Eastern Airlines deputy general manager said crew members had not sent any signals to the ground and the plane exploded on impact.