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East China plane carrying over 130 people crashes


BEIJING — A Boeing Co. 737 passenger plane operated by China Eastern Airlines carrying 132 people fell from the sky and slammed into mountains in southern China, according to officials and flight tracking data.

China Eastern Flight 5735 crashed in the Guangxi region while flying from the southwest city of Kunming to the southern metropolis, Guangzhou, on Monday afternoon, the China Administration said. Civil Aviation of China in an online statement.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and rescue teams were dispatched to the area, according to state media. The plane was a 737-800 and not a Boeing 737 MAX, according to the Aviation Safety Network database.

Video footage released by state media showed a plume of gray smoke emerging from the crash site and what appeared to be a wing fragment lying along a mountain trail with the Chinese characters for “China Eastern “partially visible.

The plane was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members, the regulator said. If all the passengers on board are confirmed dead, it would be the deadliest in China for nearly three decades.

A video image shows ambulances in Guangxi province on Monday after the crash.


Photo:

str/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The jet, which first flew in June 2015, was traveling at 457 knots, or 536 miles per hour, at an altitude of 29,100 feet at 2:19 p.m. local time when it experienced a steep drop , according to tracking data from Flightradar24. The jet, while maintaining speed, plunged more than 25,000 feet in less than 3 minutes to an altitude of just 3,225 feet, where tracking data ends, according to Flightradar24.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said he was shocked by the crash and ordered a search and rescue mission, state broadcaster reported.

China Eastern reposted a screenshot of the news reported by state media to its official account on Weibo, a social media platform, without further comment. The company’s website went black and white on Monday as a sign of mourning.

China’s state broadcaster, citing a China Eastern source, reported that the airline grounded all of its 737-800 aircraft.

A Boeing spokesperson said the company is aware of initial media reports and is working to gather more information.

The 737-800, one of the workhorses of the commercial aviation industry, has been involved in 22 hull loss incidents worldwide since entering service in 1998, according to the Aviation Safety Network, managed by the Flight Safety Foundation, an independent safety advocacy organization. group. The aircraft type was last involved in a fatal accident in August 2020 when an Air India Express jet plane split in two after suffering a runway excursion that killed 21 people on board , including the two pilots of the plane.

The 737 MAX, grounded in 2019 after two fatal crashes, is a new version of the 737 model that crashed in southern China. In China, the Boeing Co. 737 MAX has not resumed commercial flights, although in December the CAAC issued a key safety clearance that brought the plane closer to resuming passenger service in the country.

East China plane carrying over 130 people crashes

The China Eastern Airlines plane was traveling to Guangzhou on Monday when it crashed.


Photo:

bobby yip/Reuters

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was aware of the crash. “The agency stands ready to assist in investigative efforts if asked to do so,” he said.

China dramatically improved its aviation safety record after a series of fatal plane crashes in the 1990s. In 1994, a Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154M operated by China Northwest Airlines, which has since merged with China Eastern, crashed on its way from Xi’an city to Guangzhou, killing all 160 people on board.

The most recent fatal accident of a Chinese passenger airline occurred in August 2010, when an airliner manufactured by Embraer SA of Brazil and operated by Henan Airlines crashed while landing on the runway, killing 42 of the 96 people on board.

The last time large numbers of Chinese nationals were killed in a plane crash was in 2014, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared off the coast of Western Australia with 152 Chinese passengers on board.

Shanghai-based China Eastern had gone more than 17 years without a fatal accident before Monday. A member of the SkyTeam alliance which also includes Delta Air Lines Inc., it carries 130 million passengers a year and has a rating of 6 out of 7 on airlineratings.com.

Employees of Wuzhou City Beichen Mining Co., which mines ceramic clay in Teng County, Guangxi, where the accident was reported, heard the sound of an explosion on Monday afternoon and went to rushed to check surveillance footage from the mine, according to director Liao Wenhui. The footage, which later spread widely on Chinese social media, showed a large object plunging vertically into nearby mountains on Monday afternoon.

“It was only after the news broke that they realized what the camera had captured might have been an image of the plane,” Mr Liao said.

Write to Yoko Kubota at [email protected], Benjamin Katz at [email protected] and Wenxin Fan at [email protected]

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