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No information released by US about March plane crash, says China

Search and rescue workers at the crash site in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (Lu Boan/Xinhua via AP)
Search and rescue workers at the crash site in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (Lu Boan/Xinhua via AP)

China said US investigators had not released any information about the cause of a China Eastern Airlines jetliner crash in March, after The Wall Street Journal reported the plane’s flight data recorder indicated someone pushed the Boeing 737-800 into a steep dive.

American investigators confirmed to the Civil Aviation Administration of China that they had released no information to reporters, the government newspaper Global Times reported.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, referred reporters to the Global Times report in response to requests for information about the investigation.

All 123 passengers and nine crew members were killed on March 21 when the plane dived from about 8,800 metres (29,000 feet) while flying from Kunming in China’s southwest to Guangzhou near Hong Kong. Debris was scattered across a mountainous area.

An orange-coloured 'black box' recorder recovered from the crash site
An orange-coloured ‘black box’ recorder recovered from the crash site (Lu Boan/Xinhua via AP)

The Journal, citing people familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment, said the data recorder suggested inputs to the controls pushed the plane into the fatal dive.

It said American investigators were looking at the actions of a pilot and there also was a possibility someone else could have broken into the cockpit and caused the crash.

A seven-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in China on April 2 to help with the investigation into the US-manufactured aircraft. Its flight data recorder was being analysed at a laboratory in Washington.

The 737-800 has one of the aviation industry’s best safety records. China’s airline industry, one of the world’s biggest, has had relatively few incidents in recent years.