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Death in aeroplane under investigation
Latest Updated by 2006-04-13 10:53:19
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Yunnan provincial police and security officers at Kunming International Airport are investigating a suspected suicide case onboard a China Southern Airlines flight.

A 43-year-old passenger from Chongqing in Southwest China, whom police would identify only with the surname Huang, was found dead, covered in blood, in a lavatory on a flight from Shenyang of Northeast China's Liaoning Province to Kunming of Yunnan in the southwest, with a stopover in Chongqing, at noon on Monday.

He took the flight in Chongqing.

Cuts in his neck and wrist led to his death, and a razor blade was found in the lavatory, a passenger who had taken the plane told Yunnan Xinxibao, a local newspaper.

"The Yunnan police have impounded the aircraft and are still investigating the case," Peng Jun, publicity executive for China Southern, based in Guangzhou, told China Daily yesterday.

"The initial investigation indicates that the man committed suicide onboard."

The airline is co-operating with authorities, she added.

The police sent a team to the man's hometown yesterday to get more details about him, said a source with the Kunming airport who declined to be identified.

But the police have not ruled out the possibility of homicide yet, the source said.

The case caused the delay of China Southern's other flights from Kunming on Monday, and the company tried to arrange accommodations for delayed passengers, Peng said.

Media reported that a flight attendant found the man just before the plane landed. All the 170-odd other passengers were questioned before they were allowed to disembark.

The man had bought several insurance policies before boarding, a working staff in the Kunming airport told the newspaper, who joined the investigation into the case.

"An insurance company generally does not pay for policyholders who commit suicide," said Li Xiaozhong, a senior executive with China Life Insurance Co Ltd's Guangzhou branch.

"Neither does the air insurance cover losses due to suicide."

However, if the case does turn out to be a homicide, not only the insurance company but also the airline usually will pay compensation to the man's family, said Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer in Beijing experienced in such cases.

The razor blade onboard also aroused the public concern of the safety onboard.

"The case taught airport safety inspection departments a good lesson," said Liu Moubin, an associate professor at Guangdong Police College's reconnaissance department.

"It's highly possible that a passenger can take a razor blade through the safety inspection system if he or she has determined to do so.

"He or she can hide the blade inside the belt clamp, which is metal, and it would be very difficult to detect it unless the inspector is scrupulous enough.

"An airport safety inspector should also keep his or her eyes wide open for any gadget that looks harmless." Liu said.

Editor: Yan

By: Zhan Lisheng and Xin Dingding Source: China Daily Website
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