On Monday, a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 carrying 132 people crashed in the mountains of southern China during a domestic flight after a sudden descent from cruising altitude. According to the media, there were no survivors.
The airline expressed its heartfelt condolences to the passengers and crew, but did not specify how many people were killed. Boeing stated that it was ready to assist China Eastern and that it was in contact with US transportation safety regulators about the incident.
Brief highway video footage from a vehicle’s dashcam apparently showed a jet diving to the ground behind trees at an angle of about 35 degrees off vertical, according to Chinese media. The footage could not be verified immediately by Reuters.
The plane was on its way from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, when it crashed.
According to China Eastern, the cause of the crash is being investigated. Typically, such accidents involve a number of factors.
The airline stated that it had set up a hotline for relatives of those on board and had dispatched a working group to the scene. According to China Eastern, there were no foreign passengers on the flight.
Passengers’ relatives, friends, and colleagues gathered late Monday in a cordoned-off area at the plane’s destination, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
One man surnamed Yan said that a colleague had been on the plane, and that he had notified the 29-year-old’s mother.
“When she picked up the phone, she choked up,” said Yan, adding that he had a “heavy heart” when he heard the news.
China Eastern staff were making arrangements for relatives who wished to travel to the crash site on Tuesday, Yan said. Reuters was not able to independently verify Yan’s identity.
The aircraft, with 123 passengers and nine crew on board, lost contact over the city of Wuzhou, China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline said.
The flight left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and had been due to land in Guangzhou at 3:05 p.m. (0705 GMT).
The plane, which Flightradar24 said was six years old, had been cruising at 29,100 feet at 0620 GMT. Two minutes and 15 seconds later data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet, and 20 seconds after that its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet.
Media cited a rescue official as saying the plane had disintegrated and caused a fire destroying bamboo trees. The People’s Daily quoted a provincial firefighting department official as saying there was no sign of life among the debris.
State media showed a piece of the plane on a scarred, earthen hillside. There was no sign of a fire or personal belongings.