Plane carrying 132 people crashes in China

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft
Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (File)

Beijing, March 22 : A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737, carrying 132 people on board, crashed on Monday in a mountainous area of the country’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to emergency officials.

The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 was flying from Kunming to Guangzhou when it plunged to the ground in Guangxi province and caught fire, the BBC reported.

Flight MU5735 left Kunming at 1.11 p.m. (local time) and was scheduled to arrive in Guangzhou at 3.05 p.m.

The number of casualties and reason for the crash are not yet known. Rescuers have seen no signs of survivors.

The crash has caused shock in China, where President Xi Jinping has ordered an immediate investigation to determine the cause. China Eastern Airlines has grounded all its 737-800s.

Flight tracking data suggested the plane lost height rapidly from its cruising altitude before plummeting to the ground.

According to FlightRadar24 data, the plane was cruising at 29,100 feet, but two minutes and 15 seconds later it was recorded at 9,075 feet. The last sourced information on the flight showed it ended at 2.22 p.m., at an altitude of 3,225 feet.

More than 600 emergency responders are said to be at the crash site.

Firefighters reached the scene first and managed to extinguish a blaze in the hills caused by the crash.

Footage taken by local villagers and shared on Chinese social media – and by state broadcasters – showed fire and smoke from the crash, with plane debris on the ground, the BBC reported.

The staff at Guangzhou airport are directing worried relatives to a separate zone set up to receive them.

One woman waiting for news there told the local media she had booked a seat on the flight, but ended up switching to an earlier plane.

State-owned China Eastern is one of China‘s big three airlines, along with China Southern and Air China.

Chinese airlines generally have a good safety record – the last major accident took place 12 years ago.

The last major plane crash in China took place in August 2010, when a flight from Harbin crashed in Yichun killing 42 people.

Meanwhile, Boeing has issued a statement on the crash of MU5735, saying: “We are aware of the initial media reports and are working to gather more information.”

China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it had dispatched its investigators to the scene.

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