China Eastern plane crash: No survivors found, Chinese state media confirms

BEIJING — A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 carrying more than 130 people has crashed in Guangxi province, causing a fire on a mountainside, Chinese state media outlets are reporting.

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Update 10:32 p.m. EDT March 21: No survivors have been found among the wreckage of a China Eastern plane carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members, The Associated Press reported late Monday.

“Wreckage of the plane was found at the scene, but up until now, none of those aboard the plane with whom contact was lost have been found,” state broadcaster CCTV said Tuesday morning, more than 18 hours after the crash.

The crash is being characterized as China’s worst air disaster in a decade, the AP reported.

Update 2:17 p.m. EDT March 21: Boeing, the maker of the airplane, has released a statement concerning the crash.

The company said in a statement to KIRO “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.”

Update 12:06 p.m. EDT March 21: Chinese state-affiliated media have shared images of pieces of the plane, BBC News reported.

Update 10:27 a.m. EDT March 21: FlightRadar24 showed that the plane had fallen more than 25,000 feet in less than two minutes, CNN reported. The plane had dropped from its cruising altitude of 29,000 feet to 10,000 feet where it stopped briefly, then fell further until data was lost at 3,200 feet.

The crash happened during cruising, which according to Reuters is rare. Boeing said that only 13% of deadly commercial accidents globally from 2011 to 2020 happened during the cruising portion of flights. In comparison, 28% of deadly incidents happened on final approach and 26% on landing.

Chinese aviation expert Li Xiaojin told Reuters that “usually the plane is on auto-pilot during cruise stage. So it is very had to fathom what happened.”

Reuters reported there are no signs of survivors.

Update 8:13 a.m. EDT March 21: In a statement released shortly before 8 a.m. EDT Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said it is aware of the plane crash and “ready to assist in investigation efforts if asked.”

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an “all-out” rescue effort, according to The Associated Press.

A 117-person rescue crew has already reached the crash site, People’s Daily reported. Another 650 rescuers, organized by the Guangxi fire department, are headed there, as well as a team from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, officials said. China Eastern Airlines also has assembled nine teams to help at the site, the AP reported.

Update 5:39 a.m. EDT March 21: According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, 123 passengers and nine crew members were aboard the China Eastern Boeing 737-800 when it crashed en route from Kunming to Guangzhou around 2:30 p.m. local time Monday, the AP reported.

The news agency, citing FlightRadar24, reported that Flight No. MU5735 appeared to be the one involved in the crash. The plane rapidly lost speed about 2:20 p.m., began to quickly descend and stopped transmitting data southwest of Wuzhou, the AP reported.

China Eastern received the aircraft from Boeing in June 2015, according to the AP.

Original report: According to the AP, the incident occurred Monday near Wuzhou. State-run CCTV reported that a China Eastern 737 carrying 132 people crashed and sparked a mountainside fire.

Emergency crews are responding to the scene, CCTV reported. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people, if any, were killed or injured in the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.