Boeing 737 crash in China: live updates and news

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A Boeing 737-800 airliner operated by China Eastern Airlines carrying more than 130 people crashed in a mountainous area in the Guangxi region.

A passenger plane with 132 people on board crashed Monday afternoon in a mountainous region in southern China, the Civil Aviation Administration of China confirmed. Rescue teams rushed to the steep and heavily forested site in the hope of finding survivors, but initial reports before dark said they had only encountered debris and fire.

The Boeing 737 plane, operated by China Eastern Airlines, crashed in the Guangxi region, and flames and smoke could be seen rising from a hill, according to initial Chinese reports, according to images and videos share of the stage. The fire was extinguished later Monday.

“The situation of the victims remains unclear,” said an online report published by Chinese state television.

Rescuers at the crash site have begun searching through the debris, but nighttime search efforts are expected to be hampered by forecast rain and high winds. In an interview with state television, a Guangxi fire department official noted poor visibility in the area, which could slow searches.

The inhabitants of the neighborhood told reporters that the plane appeared to have broken into debris, reducing the hope of finding survivors. The company offered its condolences to the relatives of those on board in a press release.

According to initial reports, the plane, flight 5735, crashed in Teng County in Guangxi while flying from Kunming, a city in southwest China, to Guangzhou, a city in the extreme south of the country. The plane was carrying 132 people, including 123 passengers and 9 crew members, according to the Civil Aviation Administration. State media initially said 133 passengers were on board.

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, quickly issued a statement calling on rescuers to do all they can and “handle the consequences appropriately”. The Chinese central government dispatched officials to the scene to deal with the disaster and investigate its causes.

“To ensure the absolute safety of civil aviation operations,” Xi said in his instructions.

Credit…Xinhua, via Alamy

Boeing released a statement on Twitter in which the company said, “Our hearts go out to the passengers and crew of China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 5735. We are working with our airline customer and stand ready to support them.”

The plane, about seven years old, had been flying steadily on this flight until it suddenly lost altitude around 2:20 p.m., flight data showed.

The plane was not a Boeing 737 Max, a model that did not resume flights in China after a ban prompted by deadly crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019.

Chinese state media said the airline confirmed there were no foreign passengers on board the plane.

Family members of the flight crew began gathering at a China Eastern Airlines office in Yunnan province, according to Chinese state media. The southwestern city of Kunming, where the plane took off, is the capital of Yunnan. A team is being set up in this office to help the families.

The crash could become one of China’s worst air disasters in many years, following a string of fatal crashes in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, the country has set a relatively safe flight record, thanks a young aircraft fleet and stricter air controls.

Teng County firefighters were first alerted to a possible flight accident in the afternoon when villagers reported they had encountered debris from a plane, the China News Service reported.

John Liu, Liu Yi, Claire Crazy , Amy Chang Chien and Nadav Gavrielov contributed report.

Correction:

March 21, 2022

An earlier version of this article misrepresented the status of Boeing Max aircraft orders among Chinese airlines. Boeing was seeking to deliver Max planes ordered before the ban was imposed; the airlines did not announce new orders.