A China Eastern Boeing 737 with 132 people on board crashed Monday in remote mountains in southern China after sinking 30,000 feet, officials said.
The fiery crash occurred near the city of Wuzhou in southern Guangxi province around 2:30 p.m. local time, China’s Civil Aviation Administration said in a statement.
The number of dead and injured was not immediately known, but the airline said it was deeply mourning the people on board.
“The company extends its condolences to the passengers and crew who died in this plane crash,” the airline said in a statement, CNN reports.
Flight 5735 was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members, officials said. None of the passengers were foreigners, the airline said.
Rescue teams were on the scene and firefighters tried to control a mountain slope inflamed by the crash, the CAAC said.
NASA satellite data showed a massive fire near where the plane crashed at the time of the crash.
State media quoted a rescue officer as saying the plane had completely disintegrated in the collision.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
The plane had departed from Kunming city just after 1:00 PM and was en route to Guangzhou.
Contact with the plane was lost at about 2:15 PM local time, the Guangxi provincial emergency department said.
The plane was traveling at about 30,000 feet when it suddenly entered a deep dive just after 2:20 p.m., according to data from flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com.
The data suggests the plane crashed within a minute and a half.
The weather in Wuzhou was partly cloudy with good visibility at the time of the crash.
China Eastern, the country’s second-largest airline, said the cause of the crash is being investigated and the airline has set up a hotline for family members of those on board.
The airline has since changed the color of its website to black and white, which airlines are doing in response to a crash as a sign of respect for the alleged victims.
The plane that crashed was a 6-year-old 737-800 aircraft, according to Flightradar24.
The 737-800 model has a good track record of safety and is the predecessor to the 737 MAX model that has been grounded in China for more than three years after fatal crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019. .
The deadliest crash involving a Boeing 737-800 occurred in January 2020 when Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps accidentally shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight, killing all 176 people on board.
The last fatal crash of a civilian airliner in China was in 2010.
The country has one of the best air safety records in the world.
With Post wires