October 27, 2009 / 3:13 AM / 10 years ago

China looking for U.S. bomber missing for 59 years

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has begun looking for the remains of a U.S. Air Force bomber and its crew that crashed over the southern part of the country some six decades ago during the Korean War, state media reported.

The B-29 “Superfortress” caught fire and came down in Raoping county, Guangdong province, on November 5, 1950, Xinhua news agency said in a report late Monday. Villagers found 15 bodies, four of which were buried on the site of the crash.

The reported crash site is hundreds of miles from the combat zone in Korea, but en route to the U.S. bases in Japan from which the bombers operated during the war.

Chinese military archivists are now looking through old documents and “could very likely discover the remains of personnel on the U.S. B-29 bomber,” Xinhua said.

“Primary research of the archives has found more than 100 documents relating to missing U.S. servicemen,” Xinhua added.

The U.S. Department of Defense says more than 8,100 U.S. personnel are still officially listed as missing from the Korean War, in which U.S.-led forces faced off against the North Koreans and their Chinese allies.

China agreed with the United States last year that it would search though its archives to look for clues of the whereabouts of missing U.S. personnel, many of whom went missing during the 1950-53 Korean war.

Military relations between China and the United States have been strained of late, due to several naval confrontations.

Beijing has repeatedly called on the United States to reduce and eventually stop air and sea surveillance close to its shores.

But Monday, a top Chinese general said in Washington that he backed better military-to-military relations with the United States.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills

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