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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2010

Jet in China breaks apart on approach to airport; 43 killed

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING - A Chinese passenger jet broke apart as it approached a fog-shrouded runway in the country's northeast and burst into flames as it hit the ground Tuesday, killing 43 people and injuring 53 others, state media said.

The Henan Airlines plane with 91 passengers and five crew members crashed in a grassy area near the Lindu airport on the outskirts of Yichun, a city of about 1 million people in Heilongjiang province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Xinhua quoted a Yichun publicity official as saying some passengers were thrown from the cabin before the broken plane hit the ground.

The Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 jet had taken off from Heilongjiang's capital of Harbin last night and crashed a little more than an hour later, Xinhua said.

Xinhua said 43 bodies were recovered within hours of the disaster and 53 people were hospitalized, most with broken bones.

CCTV earlier said that 91 people were on board and gave a lower death and injured toll, but the report appears not to have included the five crew members.

Henan Airlines is based in the central Chinese province of the same name and flies smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and northeast China.

Henan Airlines and many other regional Chinese airlines flying shorter routes have struggled in the past few years, losing passengers to high-speed railroad lines that China has expanded.

Full-tilt expansion of Chinese air traffic in the 1990s led to a series of crashes that gave China the reputation of being unsafe.

The poor record prompted the government to improve safety drastically, from airlines to new air traffic management systems at airports.



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