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South Asian Views On Global News - Update 24X7

China Eastern crash probe eyes intentional action: Sources

Washington, May 17

Investigators looking into the crash of a China Eastern Airlines jet are examining whether it was due to intentional action on the flight deck, with no evidence found of a technical malfunction, two people briefed on the matter said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that flight data from one of the Boeing 737-800’s black boxes indicated that someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the plane, citing people familiar with the preliminary assessment of US officials.

Boeing Co, the maker of the jet, and the US National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment and referred questions to Chinese regulators.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which is leading the investigation, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The Boeing 737-800, en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, crashed on March 21 in the mountains of the Guangxi region, after a sudden plunge from cruising altitude, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard.

It was mainland China’s deadliest aviation disaster in 28 years.

The pilots did not respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers and nearby planes during the rapid descent, authorities have said. One source told Reuters investigators were looking at whether the crash was a “voluntary” act.

Screenshots of the Wall Street Journal story appeared to be censored both on China’s Weibo social media platform and the Wechat messaging app on Wednesday. The hashtag topics “China Eastern” and “China Eastern black boxes” are banned on Weibo, which cited a breach of laws, and users are unable to share posts on the incident in group chats on Wechat.

The CAAC said on April 11, in response to rumors on the internet of a deliberate crash, that the speculation had “gravely misled the public” and “interfered with the accident investigation work”.

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