Narrative:The Air-India Constellation (named "Kashmir Princess") departed Hong Kong at 04:25 GMT for a flight to Jakarta. On board were Chinese and east European delegates, mainly journalists, to attend the Asia-Afro Bandung conference.
Around 09:25 GMT, while cruising at FL180, a muffled explosion was heard and smoke entered the cabin. A fire erupted on the right wing behind the no. 3 engine. The no. 3 prop was feathered and an emergency descent was started. During the descent hydraulic failure occurred, followed by an electrical failure. A ditching was planned, but dense smoke entered the cockpit. The aircraft struck the water surface with the right wingtip and crashed.
It is thought that Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was the target of this act of sabotage. His travel plans had been kept secret and he left China three days later.
Probable Cause:PROBABLE CAUSE: "An explosion of a timed infernal machine placed in the starboard wheel well of the aircraft. This explosion resulted in the puncturing of no.3 fuel tank and an uncontrollable fire."
» China spills Zhou Enlai secret (China Daily 2004-07-21)
» ICAO Accident Digest Circular 50-AN/45 (108-109)
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.