43 killed as jet breaks up and crashes while landing in fog

A passenger jet broke apart as it tried to land on a fog-bound runway yesterday, then burst into flames as it hit the ground, killing 43 people and injuring 53.

The Henan Airlines aircraft with 91 passengers and five crew on board went down near Lindu airport on the outskirts of Yichun, a city of about one million people in China's north-eastern province of Heilongjiang. Some passengers were thrown from the cabin before the jet hit the ground about a mile from the runway, according to witnesses.

The Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 had taken off from Heilongjiang's capital of Harbin just before 9pm and crashed a little more than an hour later.

Television news reports showed firefighters dousing the burning fuselage with hoses and later digging through the wreckage of the jet. The state-run Xinhua news agency said 43 bodies had been found and 53 people taken to hospital, most with broken bones. Wang Xuemei, the deputy mayor of Yichun, said three survivors were critically injured.

The last major passenger aircraft crash in China was in November 2004, when an China Eastern jet plunged into a lake soon after take-off, killing all 53 people on board and two on the ground.

An MD-11 cargo aircraft operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation crashed during take-off from Shanghai's main airport last November. Three US crew members were killed.

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