Aviation

China Eastern Airlines flight crashes in mountains with 132 people on board

A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 has crashed in the mountains in southern China between Kunming and Guangzhou.

The flight had 132 people on board and there are no signs of survivors according to Chinese state media.

Rescue teams arrived at the site of the burning crash where the number of casualties was unclear, according to reports.

The airline said that it deeply mourned the loss of the passengers and crew, but did not specify how many died in the crash.

Boeing added to the airlines statements: “Our thoughts are with the passengers and crew of China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 5735. We are working with our airline customer and are ready to support them.

“Boeing is in contact with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and our technical experts are prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).”

It remains unclear what caused the crash and the CAAC said the aircraft lost contact over the city of Wuzhou.

The plane was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong, when it crashed.

According to Reuters, these types of accidents involve multiple factors and experts said it was too early to draw any conclusions.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs is investigating whether any Australians were on board the flight and released a statement.

“We are aware of reports that China Eastern Airlines MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed in Guangxi province, China. Australian representatives in China are making urgent enquiries with the airline and local authorities to ascertain whether any Australians were on board.”

The airline has grounded its fleet of 109 737-800 planes according to state media.

The 737-800 has a good safety record and the 737 MAX, its predecessor, has been grounded for 3 years following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

General secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, called for an “all-out effort” rescue operation and wanted to ensure the post-crash arrangements were handled appropriately.

Relatives, friends and colleagues of passengers gathered late yesterday in a cordoned off area at the jet’s destination, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

One man surnamed Yan, told Reuters his colleague was on the plane, and that he told the 29-year-old’s mother.

“When she picked up the phone, she choked up,” Yan said. He added that he had a “heavy heart” when he heard the news.

China Eastern Airline staff were making arrangements for relatives who want to visit the crash site, Yan added.



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