Chinese investigators say an in-flight breakup may have preceded the crash of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 last week but there was no evidence of explosives. “Lab tests taken of 66 samples, 41 of which have been completed, showed no major common inorganic explosive or common organic explosive substances have been found,” fire official Zheng Xi said at a briefing in the southern city of Wuzhou on Saturday. A piece of wingtip from the aircraft was found eight miles from the main crash site, a 60-foot crater in a muddy ravine in the mountains of southern China. Despite the weather and tough terrain, searchers and investigators are making progress in sorting out the grim details.
A total of 24,000 pieces of wreckage have been recovered and the remains of 120 of the 132 people aboard have been identified. Searchers have also found a transmitter associated with the flight data recorder but haven’t yet found the recorder. The aircraft was on a flight from Kunming to Guangzhou when it went into a dive, recovered and then dove again. The NTSB is helping out with the investigation as is Boeing.