China Eastern plane carrying 132 crashes in Guangxi, casualties unknown, Latest World News - The New Paper
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China Eastern plane carrying 132 crashes in Guangxi, casualties unknown

BEIJING (REUTERS, XINHUA) - A China Eastern Airlines passenger jet with 132 people on board crashed in the mountains of southern China on Monday (March 21) while on a flight from the city of Kunming to Guangzhou.

The aircraft crashed in Tengxian County in the city of Wuzhou, causing a mountain fire, according to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region's regional emergency management department.

The jet involved in the accident was a Boeing 737 aircraft and the number of casualties was not immediately known, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Officials in China have dispatched nearly 1,000 firefighters and 100 members of a local militia on a rescue mission to the site. According to Guangxi’s fire department, 117 emergency workers with about two dozen fire trucks have arrived on the scene.

There was no word on the cause of the crash.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “all-out” efforts to organise search and rescue for passengers, state television reported.

Expressing “shock” at hearing the news of the crash, Mr Xi instructed officials to the launch an emergency response immediately and to investigate the cause of the crash as soon as possible, according to state television CCTV. 

China’s Premier Li Keqiang also instructed officials to spare no effort in searching for survivors and to provide sufficient comfort to the victims’ families, according to CCTV.

According to Flightradar24, China Eastern flight MU5735 was travelling from Kunming to Guangzhou, and radar tracking shows the aircraft taking a steep descent.

The flight departed the southwestern city of Kunming at 1.11pm (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and had been due to land in Guangzhou, on the south coast, at 3.05pm (0705 GMT).

The plane had been cruising at an altitude of 29,100 feet at 0620 GMT, according to FlightRadar24 data. Just over two minutes and 15 seconds later, the next available data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet. In another 20 seconds, its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet.

The plane was a six-year-old 737-800 aircraft, according to Flightradar24.

“Can confirm the plane has crashed,” China Eastern Airlines said in a statement in which it also gave details of a hotline for relatives of those on board.

The crash was confirmed by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which said there were 123 passengers and nine crew members on board.

Media cited a rescue official as saying the plane had completely disintegrated. A fire sparked by the crash destroyed bamboo and trees before being put out, media reported.

Rescue services on their way to the scene of the crash.PHOTO: AFP

 

The aircraft involved was not a new-generation Boeing Max jet, the model involved in previous fatal crashes. That particular make of plane still has not returned to commercial service in China.

According to Aviation Safety Network’s website, this is the first fatal accident involving a 737-800 jet since Jan 8, 2020. The China Eastern jet involved was six years old, according to Flightradar.

The last major incident at China Eastern was in June 2013 when an Embraer jet skidded off the runway while landing in Shanghai airport, according to Aviation Safety Network.

The website of China Eastern Airlines was later presented in black and white, which airlines do in response to a crash as a sign of respect for the assumed victims. Boeing China’s website also switched to black and white.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, China’s last fatal jet accident was in 2010, when 44 of 96 people on board were killed when an Embraer E-190 regional jet flown by Henan Airlines crashed on approach to Yichun airport in low visibility.

The 737-800 model that crashed on Monday has a good safety record and is the predecessor to the 737 Max model that has been grounded in China for more than three years following fatal crashes in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia.

In 1994, a China Northwest Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 flying from Xian to Guangzhou was destroyed in an accident after takeoff, killing all 160 people on board and ranking as China’s worst-ever air disaster, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

 

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