By KEN MORITSUGU
BEIJING (AP) — A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed Monday in the southern province of Guangxi, officials said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement that the accident happened near the city of Wuzhou in Teng County. The flight was traveling from Kunming in western Yunnan province to the industrial hub of Guangzhou along the east coast, he added.
There was no immediate word on the number of dead and injured. The plane was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew, the CAAC said, correcting earlier reports that 133 people were on board.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “full effort” in the rescue operation, for post-crash arrangements to be handled appropriately and for potential safety risks to be investigated in order to ensure the total safety of civil aviation flights.
People’s Daily reports that 117 rescuers have already arrived at the crash site. Guangxi firefighters are organizing 650 rescuers heading to the site from three directions.
The CAAC said it sent a team of officials, and Guangxi firefighters said work was underway to control a mountainside fire started by the accident.
NASA satellite data showed a massive fire right in the area where the plane crashed at the time of the accident.
Calls to China Eastern offices were not answered immediately. State media said local police first received calls from villagers alerting to the accident around 2:30 p.m. (0630 GMT). The Guangxi provincial emergency management department said contact with the plane was lost at 2:15 p.m. (0615 GMT).
Chicago-based Boeing Co. said it was aware of initial reports of the crash and was “working to gather more information”. Boeing stock fell more than 8% in premarket trading on Monday morning.
Based in Shanghai, China Eastern is one of China’s three major airlines, operating numerous domestic and international routes serving 248 destinations.
China Eastern Flight No. 5735 was flying at approximately 30,000 feet when suddenly, just after 0620 GMT, the aircraft entered a deep nose-down attitude at its cruising altitude speed of 455 knots (523 mph, 842 km/h). , according to flight tracking data. FlightRadar24.com website. Data suggests the plane crashed within a minute and a half of what went wrong.
The plane stopped transmitting data just southwest of the Chinese city of Wuzhou.
The aircraft was delivered to China Eastern by Boeing in June 2015 and had been flying for over six years.
Boeing began delivering the 737-800 to customers in 1997 and delivered the last of the series to China Eastern in 2020. It has manufactured over 5,200 narrow-body aircraft, a popular single-aisle commuter jet.
The twin-engine single-aisle Boeing 737 is one of the world’s most popular aircraft for short- and medium-haul flights. China Eastern operates several versions of the common aircraft, including the 737-800 and the 737 Max.
The deadliest accident involving a Boeing 737-800 occurred in January 2020, when Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards accidentally shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight, killing all 176 people on board.
The 737 Max version was grounded around the world after two fatal crashes. China’s aviation regulator cleared the aircraft for return to service late last year, making the country the last major market to do so.
The last fatal crash of a civilian airliner in China dates back to 2010.
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing, press assistant Caroline Chen and writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.