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China seeks word on 9 missing citizens

CHINA was contacting diplomatic authorities in Brazil and France to learn more about the nine Chinese citizens who were aboard the Air France airliner that apparently crashed at sea on a trip from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing yesterday.

"Our hearts go out to all the families and relatives of the passengers during this time," Qin said at a regular press conference.

The Foreign Ministry has asked Chinese embassies in France and Brazil and the consulate in Rio de Janeiro to contact French diplomatic agencies, Air France and travel agencies to confirm the number of missing Chinese citizens and to track emergency efforts, Qin said.

The Benxi Iron & Steel Group in northeast China's Liaoning Province confirmed yesterday that six company officials, including a senior executive, were on board the French jet.

The group, consisting of four men and two women, was on a business trip visiting iron ore mining companies in Australia and Brazil.

Benxi is a major steel maker in Liaoning and a customer of iron ore suppliers including Vale in Brazil and BHP Billiton in Australia. The employees left China on May 17 on a trip approved by the Liaoning provincial government, a company statement said.

Meanwhile, the Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co said yesterday it had established an emergency team after one of its employees was listed among the Air France passengers.

Huawei, the country's biggest telecommunications equipment maker, set up teams in China, Brazil and France and had helped the employee's relatives apply for visas to France and Brazil, the company said in a statement that was delivered to Shanghai Daily.

Huawei said it had been asked by the relatives not to release the name of the employee.

But Internet forums quoted company insiders as saying the missing worker was a 27-year-old man who had previously worked in Huawei's Shanghai office.

Another of the nine Chinese passengers was reported to be a Chinese national who had applied for immigrant status in Brazil. There was no information available yesterday on the remaining passenger.


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