Boeing 737 passenger jet carrying 133 crashes in rural China

Written by on March 22, 2022

A Boeing Co. 737-800NG plane operated by China Eastern Airlines Corp. crashed on Monday in the southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi. The jet was carrying 133 people, which was traveling from Kunming in Yunnan province to the manufacturing center of Guangzhou, according to FlightRadar24.

The crash had sparked a forest fire which was later put out, leaving deep scorch marks on trees, according to reporters on the scene. Authorities are yet to identify passengers and crew members, but among them was a group of six people, including a teenager, who were traveling to Guangzhou to attend a funeral, reported local media.

Flight MU5735 had been in the air for over an hour and was nearing Guangzhou when it suddenly plummeted from a cruising height. The Boeing 737-800 plane dropped thousands of meters in three minutes, flight tracker data showed.

According to FlightRadar24, the plane was cruising at 29,100ft, but two minutes and 15 seconds later it was recorded at 9,075ft. The last sourced information on the flight showed it ended at 14:22 local time, at an altitude of 3,225ft.

The airline and China’s aviation authorities have all launched an investigation into the crash. But responders to the scene are still trying to locate the plane’s black box and any other equipment that could help identify the cause of the crash.

The China Eastern plane smashed into the rural countryside near Wuzhou city, Guangxi region, and ’caused a mountain fire’, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Local media reported China Eastern flight MU5735 had not arrived at its scheduled destination in Guangzhou after it took off from the city of Kunming shortly after 1pm (5am GMT) Monday.

The twin-engine, single aisle Boeing 737 is one of the world’s most popular planes for short and medium-haul flights. There were 132 people on board, including 123 passengers and 9 crew members, as per China’s Civil Aviation Administration.

The 737 Max version was grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes. China’s aviation regulator cleared the plane to return to service late last year. The B-1791 aeroplane was a 737-89P model type of Boeing aircraft. The aeroplane was 6 years old, reported Aero news.

Rescuers continue to search for survivors from the plane crash, as families of those onboard gather at a nearby airport waiting anxiously for updates.

The tragedy has sparked widespread grief in China. President Xi Jinping has ordered a full-scale investigation. The number of casualties is not known, and there are fears of no survivors.

Local media reported they had found parts of the wreckage and were still searching through debris scattered over mountainous, rugged terrain. This included the charred remains of bags, wallets and identity cards.

One woman interviewed said her sister and close friends were part of that group, adding that she had also been booked on the flight but ended up switching to an earlier plane.

“I feel very anguished,” she told Jiemian News.

China Eastern Airlines, one of the nation’s big three state-owned carriers, has expressed its “deep condolences” to the victims and their families. It has grounded all its Boeing 737-800s, and set up a hotline for people seeking information on those on board.

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