Drunk in charge

A Chinese passenger plane that crashed on Sunday was flying erratically moments before it plunged into an icy lake, eyewitnesses said. China’s Xinhua news agency quoted one witness as saying the plane flew “like a staggering drunkard”.

Officials have ruled out sabotage as a cause of the crash, although the plane’s black box has not yet been found. All 53 people on board, 47 passengers, six crew, and one person on the ground, died in the crash, near the city of Baotou in Inner Mongolia.

The China Eastern, Shanghai-bound flight plunged into the lake shortly after take-off, apparently after exploding in mid-air. It was the first serious air accident in China since May 2002, when 112 people died after their plane fell into the ocean near the north-eastern city of Dalian.