HONG KONG, OCT. 2 (TUESDAY) -- A Chinese passenger jet that was apparently hijacked on a domestic flight slammed into another plane at Canton's international airport today, killing dozens of people, hospital officials said.
The Boeing 737 was carrying about 90 people and both it and the plane it struck exploded after their collision on the airport tarmac, according to a reporter at the Canton People's Broadcasting Station.
Officials said they closed the airport soon after the 8 a.m. accident in the southern city, which is the capital of Guangdong province. The Boeing 737 was owned by China's state airline CAAC.
"Altogether several tens were killed," said an official at the Chinese Traditional Medicine University in Canton. Like other officials, he spoke on condition of anonymity.
A Taiwanese man was pronounced dead at the university hospital, which was one of many in the provincial capital to receive casualties.
An official at the No. 1 People's Hospital said it had received five victims and that one, a Chinese man, had died.
"We're right in the middle of emergency rescue procedures," the official said, declining to give her name.
At the Red Cross Hospital, a nurse who only identified herself as Huang, said a 43-year-old Chinese man was being treated.
The city health department refused to comment on the death toll.
At least five flights between Canton and the nearby British colony, Hong Kong, were postponed.
Six hours later, the airport reopened for international flights but no domestic flights were taking off.
The flight apparently originated from the Fujian province city of Xiamen, which is north of Guangdong province.
Its destination was not immediately known, but according to airline schedules the only plane due to leave Xiamen early today was a Boeing 737 bound for Shanghai.
An airport official and a reporter for the Guangdong People's Broadcasting Station said they believed the plane was first hijacked before it crashed.
In Hong Kong, government-owned radio quoted Hong Kong air traffic controllers as saying they had been informed of a hijacking early today.
Richard Stites, a spokesman at the U.S. Consulate in Canton, said the consulate had not been notified about any Americans on board.
In Taipei, Taiwan, state-run television reported that at least two Taiwanese citizens had been on board the plane.
Many Taiwanese originally came from Fujian province and Taiwanese businesses have invested millions of dollars there over the past few years.
In Beijing, officials at the state airline's headquarters refused to even confirm the crash. Editors at various official news media in the capital said they had no information on it.