Although no bodies have been recovered, that it took over six days for the rescue team to confirm on Sunday the deaths of all 123 passengers and nine crew members onboard the China Eastern Airlines aircraft that plunged into a mountain last week shows the dedication with which the search and rescue efforts were carried out.
More than 2,000 people searched the difficult terrain of the crash site in the mountains of Tengxian county, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, day and night, in the hope of finding survivors.
The collective show of mourning carried out by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee at the beginning of its meeting on Monday afternoon as a show of respect for the victims of Flight MU5737 reflects the grief felt by the whole country.
People hoped for a miracle even though they knew such hopes were slim.
That a total of 33,777 pieces of aircraft wreckage and debris have been found spread over an area of 45,200 square meters, with one part buried 20 meters in the mountainside as of Sunday noon, indicates the ferocity of the impact.
Although the search and rescue site is cordoned off, it was opened for the 632 family members of the victims who were at the scene. It has been heartrending to hear of some of them filling small pots with the mud they dug from the crash site, which they intend to take back home as if it were the ashes of their loved ones.
Even though lasting heavy rains have made the site extremely muddy, the rescuers have been making full use of every minute to not only try and find any survivors but also look for pieces of wreckage as they know that their discoveries may be of great significance to the investigation into the cause of the accident.
The recovery of the second black box on Sunday may help in that respect.
There is no doubt that the country is doing all it can not only to find out what caused the accident and draw whatever lessons it can from the accident to improve safety, but also to provide care and assistance to the victims' families. It was also on Sunday that China Eastern Airlines initiated its compensation procedure, and the relatives of the victims are being offered counselling.
As well as being the personal losses of the families, the victims are the nation's losses too. It is to be hoped that the cause of the accident can be verified at an early date to make each lost life count by preventing a similar tragedy from happening again.