Plane with 132 on Board Crashes Near Wuzhou in Southern China

March 21, 2022
A China Eastern Airlines plane with 132 people on board crashed near the city of Wuzhou in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi on Monday, the country's aviation authority confirmed.

Beijing — A China Eastern Airlines plane with 132 people on board crashed near the city of Wuzhou in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi on Monday, the country's aviation authority confirmed.

The Boeing 737 suddenly plummeted from a height of more than 8,000 metres, air traffic control reported. On board were 123 passengers and 9 crew members, making this the worst aviation accident in China for almost 12 years.

Flight number MU5735 was reportedly on the way from Kunming, in Yunnan province, to Guangzhou in Guangdong province. State media reported that rescue crews were on their way to the hilly Teng region.

Mobile phone video footage circulating online showed a cloud of smoke rising above the hillside. Other images showed debris strewn everywhere, including clothing hanging from the trees.

There was immediately speculation about the cause of the sudden crash. "Even if both engines of the Boeing 737 had failed at the same time, it would be impossible to fall at such a speed because the plane could still glide a distance," an expert was quoted as saying by state media.

A witness who gave his name as Li told the news site Hongxing Xinwen how he had been driving in a car and suddenly saw the plane crash. "It was a complete plane, with no smoke or fire, falling steeply downwards." The crash site is about 300 kilometres west of Guangzhou.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the airline to deal with the aftermath of the accident and investigate potential threats to air travel, state television reported. China Eastern Airlines immediately ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737s in its fleet for the time being.

Teng is a remote region about 300 kilometres from Guangzhou. There were reports of a forest fire after the crash.

China's aviation sector has enjoyed a relatively safe decade. The last major air accident happened in August 2010 in Heilongjiang province in north-east China, when a Henan Airlines Embraer crashed, killing 44 passengers.

©2022 dpa GmbH. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.