No more bodies discovered at CAL crash site

The China Post staff

Choppy conditions prevented search teams from finding any more bodies of passengers yesterday from the China Airlines jet that crashed more than a week ago. Exhausted and frustrated, many waiting on the Penghu islands for the bodies of their loved ones to be recovered burst into tears when vice transport minister Oliver Fang briefed them on the progress of the search effort. They blamed the government’s poor coordination for the inefficient effort.

Searchers said they are no less frustrated. So far, only 102 bodies, out of the 225 passengers and crew aboard, have been found. None of the rest are believed to have survived the fatal accident, the 10th in three decades for China Airlines. The passenger jet plunged into the sea twenty minutes after taking off from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to Hong Kong.

The cause of the air crash remains a mystery.

Aviation experts are unable to explain why the jet suddenly vanished from radar screens without sending any distress signals.

Preliminary investigation suggested the jet broke into four parts before falling into the sea. Some suspect a fuel tank explosion could be the cause while others said the jet could have been hit by missiles.

The critical black boxes, which record the flight data of the jet, are believed to remain lying on the sea floor.

The navy has dispatched 30 vessels to assist in the search efforts, which cover nearly the entire Taiwan Strait. The transport ministry has said the search efforts should be primarily focused on dead bodies, followed by the black boxes and wreckage. China Airlines has planned another religious rite for June 8, aimed at calling back the souls of the missing bodies by their families. A joint funeral will take place in the middle of this month, arranged by the government.

Many have blamed the awkward relationship between China Airlines, its largest shareholder China Aviation Development Foundation and the government for the poor safety record of the airline. Premier Yu Shyi-kun has demanded a thorough reorganization of the foundation, which controls a 71 percent stake in China Airlines.

On Friday, the Cabinet approved the resignations of the foundation’s nine board members. Transport minister Lin Ling-san announced late Friday he would assume the helm at the foundation, succeeding Tsay Jaw-yang.

A final lineup of the board will be completed in a few days.