Yesterday morning at 8:12am, a Zimbabwe-registered cargo plane crashed on takeoff at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, killing three of its crew and injuring four. The plane, which was bound for Kyrgyzstan, caught fire shortly after lifting off the runway.
The three killed were Americans, the United States Embassy in Beijing confirmed. A fourth American was injured, but seems to be in stable condition. The other crew members, also reported to be in stable condition, were from Indonesia, Belgium and Zimbabwe.
The aircraft was a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 of Avient Aviation and was “operating a charter freight flight,” Avient said. “Preliminary information indicates that the accident occurred on takeoff from Pudong International Airport. The aircraft was carrying a crew of 7. At this time, the full resources of Avient’s accident response team have been mobilised and will be devoted to cooperating with all authorities responding to the accident.”
While the plane was “not carrying any sensitive goods,” according to Avient’s COO, Metafilter points out that the company itself is somewhat shady. Despite nearly going bankrupt, Avient managed to buy this plane just a week before it crashed. Not only that, one of its heads is supposedly tied to Congo war crimes.
The United States’ Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of government and industry crash investigators, which the Wall Street Journal assures is “typical in any major accident involving a widely used jetliner almost anywhere on the globe.”
In the meantime, Pudong International Airport workers clearing the wreckage found the plane’s black box this morning, though experts said that decoding the black box’s data wouldn’t necessarily result in any questions being answered.
In case you’re interested, witnesses whipped out their cameraphones to capture some of the confusion surrounding the sudden burst of smoke at the airport. Here are three we found: One Two Three. The video on top is a Chinese news report of the accident.