BEIJING/YICHUN Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- China on Wednesday started the official probe into the Yichun plane crash which killed 42 people and injured 54 others while domestic airlines were ordered to overhaul safety measures.
The State Council, or China's Cabinet, has set up a special work group to probe the cause of the crash. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered a thorough investigation and beefed-up efforts to ensure air travel safety.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, who led an investigation team to the lush forested city of Yichun overnight after the crash, headed the work group.
Zhang called upon the work-group's first meeting Wednesday but details of the meeting were not made public.
Li Jian, vice director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), told Xinhua that the work group has started to gather evidence for the probe, but the process would take some time.
A Brazil-made ERJ-190 turbine jet of Henan Airlines crashed during the landing at the forests-surrounded Lindu Airport of Yichun City late Tuesday night, killing 42 and injuring 54 passengers and the crew on board.
Fifteen severely injured, including children and a vice minister, were transferred to four key hospitals in Harbin, the provincial capital on Wednesday night.
Initial probes and survivors' accounts indicate the plane missed the runway and crashed on the ground, cracking the cabin and triggering a mild explosion.
No signs of sabotage have been found so far, investigators said.
The black boxes of the jet have been retrieved.
The Lindu airport of Yichun was closed down shortly while operations of the Henan Airlines were suspended.
The board of directors of Henan Airlines on Wednesday sacked the airline's general manager Li Qiang and appointed an acting manager to replace him.
Cao Bo, Li's replacement, served as the chief pilot of Shenzhen Airlines, the parent company of Henan Airliens.
Major Chinese carriers, including the China Eastern and China Southern, on Wednesday called upon emergency meetings to review the companies' safety measures.
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