SHENZHEN, China — A Boeing 737 on a domestic flight veered off the runway while landing Thursday night, broke into three pieces and caught fire, killing at least 35 people and injuring dozens more, said an official in this southern city.
Thirty-three passengers and two crew members were killed after the plane touched down at Shenzhen's Huangtian Airport, on the Hong Kong border, veered onto the grass and split apart just minutes later.
Another 35 people were hospitalized, and two of them--a Thai national and a Hong Kong citizen--were in serious condition, the city official, who gave her name only as Zhu, said today.
It was unclear what caused the China Southern Airlines jet to explode after landing at 9:35 p.m. The cause of the crash--the first accident at the airport since it opened about three years ago--is under investigation.
Zhu said that 65 passengers and nine crew members were on the flight. But she was unable to explain why four people were unaccounted for.
The passengers included a Thai tour group of "about 20 people," Zhu said. The nationalities of the dead were not immediately determined.
The flight had arrived from Chongqing in the central province of Sichuan, landing in heavy rain.
An official at the control tower who declined to be identified said today that the airport had returned to normal operations.
Shenzhen has developed from a fishing village to a metropolis in the 17 years since the Communist government in Beijing chose to launch its economic reforms there.