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No survivors have been found as rescuers continue to search the wreckage of a China Eastern plane carrying 132 people, which is being described as the country’s worst air disaster in over ten years.
State-owned broadcaster CCTV said on Tuesday morning (22 March), over 18 hours since the shocking incident: “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.”
The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed into the mountains near Wuzhou, Guangxi province after it was traveling from Kunming, Yunnan province in western China, to Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 operating flight MU5735 has reportedly crashed near Wuzhou in southern China. Initial reports say 133 onboard.pic.twitter.com/iipgQYGkhK— WLVN Analysis🔍 (@TheLegateIN) March 21, 2022
CCTV cited the Guangxi Emergency Management Department saying that the 'accident' had resulted in a mountainside fire, while the Civil Aviation Administration of China confirmed that flight number MU5735 had crashed with nine crew members and 123 passengers on board.
Flight data recorded by Flightradar24 reported that the aircraft suddenly lost altitude at 2:22pm local time, roughly 40 minutes before it was due to land in Guangzhou.
Following the news of the tragedy, China’s president Xi Jinping said: “We are shocked to learn of the China Eastern MU5735 accident.” He also called on rescue teams for ‘all-out’ efforts to find out the 'cause of the accident as soon as possible'.
State-owned media confirmed on Twitter today: “Local villagers in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region drove more than 40 kms to bring bottled water and food to the rescue team, busy looking for any survivors of the crashed Eastern Airlines #MU5735 Boeing 737-800 plane.”
Airlines in China have a comparatively high safety record, with the country's last fatal jet accident occurring back in 2010. However, this latest incident has sparked fresh fears over aviation safety in the region, particularly on Boeing, which has come under the spotlight in recent months with the release of Netflix’s documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing.
Local villagers in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region drove more than 40 kms to bring bottled water and food to the rescue team, busy looking for any survivors of the crashed Eastern Airlines #MU5735 Boeing 737-800 plane. #PlaneCrash pic.twitter.com/V6yz9OyOLD— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 22, 2022
The Boeing 737-800 is not the same model as the 737 MAX, which was grounded worldwide between March 2019 and November 2020 when a recurring failure resulted in two fatal accidents in the space of six months.
The Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashes, which occurred in November 2018 and March 2019 respectively, killed a total of 346 people and saw Boeing forced to pay $2.5 billion in penalties and compensation.
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