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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
'No survivors' in Chinese air crash
Rescuers stand beside a piece of wreckage from the China Northern Airlines MD-82 plane
An investigation into the crash is under way
A China Northern Airlines plane carrying 112 people has crashed into the sea near Dalian in north-east China.

A statement from the airline said there were no survivors. Seventy bodies are reported to have been retrieved.

Witnesses quoted by Xinhua said the plane - Flight 6136 - crashed into the sea some 20 km (12 miles) east of Dalian airport.

It is the second crash involving a Chinese airline in less than a month, and is bound to raise fears over China's air safety.

Liu Jiqing, a loader at Dalian port, said he saw the plane "making several circles before plunging into the sea".

The MD-82 airliner was flying from Beijing to Dalian, with 103 passengers and nine crew members.

Eight foreigners - mainly from Japan and South Korea - were among the passengers. But the majority were Dalian residents, likely to be travelling back to work after China's week-long Labour Day holiday.

'Intense fire'

Ground controllers reportedly lost contact with the plane at 2132 (1332 GMT) after its captain reported that a fire had broken out in the cabin.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, who was at the scene, says there is speculation that there was an intense fire on board moments before the crash.

When they heard the news, fishermen set off in their boats on their own accord

Dalian port official
Xinhua says rescuers found a food trolley that had been burned black and broken in half, indicating the seriousness of the fire.

More than 30 rescue ships raced to the crash site.

"We sent every boat we could find," said a Dalian port authority official.

"When they heard the news, fishermen set off in their boats of their own accord," he said.

A team of investigators sent by the Chinese cabinet has arrived in Dalian to probe the cause of the crash.

Previous crashes

The Dalian crash comes only weeks after a crash in South Korea of an Air China plane.

A woman cries after she found out her relative was onboard the China Northern Airlines MD-82
No survivors have been found

On 15 April, 129 people died when an Air China Boeing 767 crashed into a fog-covered mountain near the southern city of Busan, as the plane was trying to land at Kimhae airport.

South Korean officials have suggested pilot error was to blame in that crash.

China Northern Airlines, established in 1990, is based in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning. It has 24 MD-82s among its fleet.

Tuesday's accident was the second involving a China Northern MD-82. Twelve people died in November 1993 when a jet crashed as it was landing in Urumqi, in China's far western Xinjiang region.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
"The search for survivors is pretty much over"
See also:

08 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: China's air safety
08 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
In Pictures: Chinese air crash
15 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
China crash plane 'blown off course'
15 Apr 02 | World
Air disaster timeline
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: China
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