Families hold memorial at crash site; second black box sent to Beijing
Despite an intensive search and rescue effort and weeklong prayers for miracles nationwide, all 132 people on board the China Eastern Airlines jet that crashed on March 21 have been confirmed to have died.
Meanwhile, the second black box－the flight data recorder－was recovered at about 9:20 am on Sunday. Its recovery could play a key role in discovering why the tragedy occurred.
China Eastern Flight MU5735 crashed with 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard into a mountain in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region at 2:21 pm on March 21. The jet had taken off from the southwestern city of Kunming at 1:11 pm for Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
On Sunday, a memorial ceremony for the victims was held at the site of the search and rescue operation.
In Chinese culture, it is believed that on the seventh day after a death, called touqi, the spirits of the dead return to bid a final farewell to their loved ones.
The ceremony began at 2 pm, with horns of vehicles sounding through the field. Search and rescue personnel and some victims' family members faced the direction of the crashed jet and stood in solemn silence for three minutes in honor of those who died.
Similar ceremonies were also held at various places, such as funeral homes.
Some family members collected earth from the crash site to take back home as a memento of their loved ones. Yin Ping, a psychologist who helps with counseling for the grieving families, said the search and rescue team provided pottery jars for the grieving relatives.
"It is their way to connect with their deceased family members," he told China Central Television. "If the living never forget the dead, the dead will be with them forever."
China Eastern Airlines said on Sunday that it had officially begun the compensation process for the victims' families.
"We'll fully respect reasonable demands from the victims' families and discuss with them in detail," Liu Xiaodong, head of the airlines' publicity department, said at a news conference in Wuzhou. "We'll formulate the compensation plan and determine a unified standard of compensation."
The airline has set up a team responsible for the compensation and opened a hotline for the victims' families, he said.
As for the second black box, Zhu Tao, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's aviation safety office, said the exterior of its data storage unit was in relatively good shape, but the rest of it was severely damaged.
The device was found buried 1.5 meters deep in the ground about 40 meters from the main crash site, he said, adding that it had been sent to a laboratory for decoding.
The first black box－containing the cockpit voice recorder－was recovered and sent to Beijing on Wednesday. Downloading and analysis work of its data is still underway.
When black boxes are recovered in fairly good condition, investigators can analyze and produce a report on their content within about three months, but it can take much longer when they are damaged, said Li Xiaojin, a professor from the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.
Cao Yin contributed to this story. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202203/28/WS6240ecbba310fd2b29e53899.htm