Chinese authorities continue to scour the crash site of the ill-fated China Eastern Airlines flight MU-5735 days after it dropped from the sky and collided into the mountains of the Guangxi region on Monday.
As of this writing, rescue teams have so far failed to find any sign of survivors from the nine crew members and 123 passengers aboard the Boeing 737.
While authorities have yet to publicly release the names of the passengers, China Eastern has reached out to their families in private. Guangxi’s Wuzhou city has prepared over 50 psychologists to provide counseling to the relatives of passengers who went to the crash scene.
On Wednesday, the search party recovered the plane’s first black box, which is believed to contain the cockpit voice recorder. The team is still looking for a second one that purportedly records flight data.
Black boxes contain important information that would help investigators piece together the reason for the crash. The retrieved device has been sent to Beijing, where it will be analyzed by investigators.
Experts said the preliminary analysis alone could take 10 to 15 days, with the final conclusion to be presented in a later report.
Search teams are reportedly having trouble locating the second black box as it could not be recovered at the scene, possibly due to a damaged signal transmitter. Heavy rains have also made the search for missing passengers and plane wreckage extra challenging for rescuers.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), it has submitted details about the investigation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The agency plans to invite representatives from the two groups to assist once the official investigation into the U.S.-manufactured plane begins.
Flight MU-5735, which came from Kunming city, was en route to Guangzhou on Monday when the plane made a sudden nosedive into the mountainous Guangxi region.
Civil aviation data provider VariFlight said the plane was up at about 8,900 meters (approximately 29,200 feet) when it began to slow down and descend at 2:19 p.m. Shortly after, the plane dropped to 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) and lost radar contact.
According to Chinese authorities, the plane’s onboard pilots reportedly failed to respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers as it was making its rapid descent.
The country’s regulators have urged insurance companies to ensure families are assisted properly with their insurance claims. Insurers have now launched their own investigations and are even participating in the search and rescue operations.
Families of the victims will receive compensation based on flight insurance that the passengers bought before their plane ride.
China Eastern Airlines notes on its website that in case of a fatal disaster, family members of passengers who paid 30 yuan (approximately $4.71) for travel insurance are entitled to receive 2 million yuan (approx. $314,000) in damages. Those who opted for insurance coverage costing 100 yuan are entitled to more than twice that amount.