Boeing 737 with 132 passengers crashes in China, no sign of survivors


A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 600115.SS with 132 people on board crashed Monday on a domestic flight in the mountains of southern China, and media reported that rescue workers found no sign of survivors.

The plane flew from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong.

There was initially no information about the cause of the crash.

“Can confirm plane crashed,” China Eastern Airlines said in a statement, which also gave details of a hotline for relatives of those on board.

Media quoted a rescue official as saying the plane disintegrated and caused a fire that destroyed bamboo trees. People’s Daily quoted a provincial fire department official as saying there was no sign of life among the scattered debris.

The plane, with 123 passengers and nine crew members on board, lost contact over the city of Wuzhou, the China Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) and the airline said.

The flight departed Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and was scheduled to land in Guangzhou at 3:05 p.m. (0705 GMT).

The plane, which Flightradar24 said was six years old, flew at 06:20 GMT at an altitude of 29,100 feet. A little over two minutes and 15 seconds later, data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet.

In another 20 seconds, the last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet, indicating a vertical descent of 31,000 feet per minute, Flightradar24 said.

Online weather data showed partly cloudy conditions with good visibility in Wuzhou at the time of the crash.

President Xi Jinping urged investigators to determine the cause of the crash as soon as possible and to ensure “absolute” flight safety, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Boeing Co BA.N shares fell 6.4 percent to $180.44 in premarket trading. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hong Kong-based China Eastern Airlines 0670.HK shares fell 6.5 percent after news of the crash broke, while US-listed CEA shares fell 17 percent in premarket trading.

Aeronautical data provider OAG said this month that state-owned China Eastern Airlines is the sixth largest in the world by planned weekly seat capacity and the largest in China.

China has had a relatively strong domestic aviation market during the coronavirus pandemic, despite strict restrictions on international flights.

China’s aviation industry’s safety record has been among the best in the world over the past decade.

“China Eastern and China in general have had a good flight safety record over the past decade,” said Shukor Yusof, head of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.

“The CAAC has very strict safety regulations and we just have to wait for more details to clarify the plausible cause of the accident.”

The 737-800 that crashed Monday has a good safety record and is the predecessor of the 737 MAX, which has been grounded in China for more than three years after fatal crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019.

Investigators will try to recover the plane’s two so-called black boxes – the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder – to shed light on the crash.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, China’s last fatal jet accident occurred in 2010, when 44 of 96 people on board died when an Embraer E-190 regional jet flown by Henan Airlines crashed on approach to Yichun Airport in poor visibility.

In 1994, a China Northwest Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 crashed en route from Xian to Guangzhou, killing all 160 people on board and ranked as China’s worst-ever air disaster, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

Reporting by Reuters newsrooms in Beijing and Shanghai and by Jamie Freed in Sydney Boeing 737 with 132 passengers crashes in China, no sign of survivors

Fry Electronics Team

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