The Henan Airlines plane crashed in Heilongjiang province’s Yichun City, according to state media, who said 49 of the 91 passengers had been rescued. State media last night confirmed 42 passengers had been killed.
Wang Xuemei, vice mayor of Yichun, told Chinese television that three of the 49 hospitalized were in critical condition but gave no specifics.
The plane had taken off from Heilongjiang’s capital of Harbin shortly before 9pm and crashed during landing at the Lindu airport a little more than an hour later.
China’s last major civilian aircraft crash was in 2004, when a CRJ200 operated by China Eastern Airlines came down in a frozen lake in northern Inner Mongolia shortly after take-off, killing more than 50 people.
Yichun airport is a small domestic facility which opened only last year, and is one of an increasing number of airports built in remote parts of China to help boost economic development.
Henan Airlines is based in the central Chinese province of Henan and flies smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and north-east China. Previously known as Kunpeng Airlines, the carrier was rebranded this year.
Henan Airlines and many other regional Chinese airlines flying shorter routes have struggled in the last few years, losing passengers to high-speed rail links that China has aggressively expanded.
It changed its name from Kunpeng Airlines earlier this year and flies only domestic routes using the Brazilian-made Embraer.