YICHUN, Heilongjiang - Henan Airlines' senior management apologized on Thursday to families of the victims and to the entire country for Tuesday's deadly air crash.
A Brazilian-made ERJ-190 jet owned by Henan Airlines that carried 96 people crashed during its landing on Tuesday at the Yichun Airport, killing 42 and injuring 54.
Liu Hang, chairman of the board of supervisors of Henan Airlines, made repeated apologies, sometimes crying, at a press conference in Yichun on Thursday.
At the news conference, Lu Erxue, an official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said 15 injured passengers in critical condition were airlifted to Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, for treatment at four hospitals on Wednesday.
The transferred passengers include five children, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Four children suffered burns and three are in critical condition, said Wang Yongchen, deputy chief of First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University.
Wang is caring for 10 out of the 15 injured passengers airlifted to Harbin.
"Some children can speak and you cannot see any obvious burns on their skin, but their respiratory tracts are damaged (from smoke and fumes) to such an extent that it is life-threatening," Wang said.
The children are being treated at the intensive-care units at the hospital.
"The next 48 hours are crucial," he said.
The airport in Yichun, which was closed after the accident, reopened on Thursday with the first landing 40 hours after the plane crash.
An Airbus 320, run by China Southern Airlines, landed at the Yichun Airport at around 12:45 pm with 62 passengers, Xinhua reported.
The flight carried some family members of the victims.
Liu Hang with Henan Airlines said that the airline, based in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, has opened three hotlines to help victims' families.
The airline also set up a reception desk at the Harbin Airport to send families of the victims to Yichun.
All Henan Airlines flights are still grounded as of Thursday.
Xinhua cited sources with the city government saying that 329 family members had already arrived at Yichun by bus and by train before the China Southern plane arrived on Thursday.
Zheng Qiuhua from Fujian province said eight family members and one colleague of his cousin, Zheng Qiugui - one of the 42 victims of the crash - arrived at Yichun on Thursday.
They were sent to Yichun and arrangements were made for them to stay at a hotel. The father of his dead cousin will conduct a DNA test to help confirm the body of his cousin, Zheng Qiuhua said.
But they were still not told when and where they would be able to see the body, which is the most important thing for Zheng's family now, he said.
Zheng Qiugui, who was 25, was a sales manager of a metal products company in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. He was flying to Yichun to attend the annual steel meeting on behalf of his company. Zheng Qiugui's son is only one year old. "We hope they (the airline staff) can understand our feelings and let us see my cousin as soon as possible. They asked us to stay at the hotel and wait, but how can we be in the mood to enjoy the hotel facilities now?" Zheng Qiuhua said.
"We'd rather not sleep nor eat, if we can see my cousin's body now."
Yichun government officials said they have formed a work team to comfort the victims' families and would arrange DNA tests to hasten the body-claiming process.