UPDATE | Xi orders the investigation of a plane with 132 crashes in China

  • President Xi Jinping has ordered an investigation into the plane crash in China.
  • The Boeing 737-800 plane crashed on a mountain in southern China on Monday.
  • The number of injured has not yet been confirmed.

A China Eastern passenger jet with 132 people crashed on a mountain in southern China on Monday, causing a major fire, shortly after losing contact with air traffic control and losing thousands of meters in less than three minutes.

There was no immediate confirmation of the number of casualties, but the disaster prompted an unusually rapid public response from President Xi Jinping, who said he was “shocked” and ordered an immediate investigation into the cause.

The Boeing 737-800 flight from Kunming City to Guangzhou’s southern hub “lost airborne contact over Wuzhou” in the Guangxi region on Monday afternoon, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

“This aircraft has crashed,” CAAC said, adding that the jet had 123 passengers and nine crew members.

Hundreds of firefighters were dispatched to the site in Teng County near the city of Wuzhou, state media reported as nearby villagers rushed to help rescue efforts.

“Everyone went to the mountains,” Tang Min, who runs a small restaurant a few kilometers from the crash site, told AFP.

Fears of the jet’s fate spread on Monday afternoon when local media reported that the China Eastern plane MU5735 had not arrived as planned in Guangzhou after taking off from Kunming shortly after 1 p.m. 13.00.

Flight tracking site FlightRadar24 showed no data for the flight after 14:22.

READ | Plane with 133 people crashes in China, deaths unknown

The tracker showed that the plane dropped sharply from an altitude of 8,870 to 982 meters in three minutes before the flight information ceased.

The state television station CCTV said the crash “caused a mountain fire” which was later extinguished.

A villager told a local news site that the plane had “fallen completely apart” and he had seen forest areas destroyed by the fire it caused when it crashed into the mountainside.

China Eastern first changed its website to black and white on Monday afternoon and opened an emergency helpline.

A January corporate report said China Eastern had 289 Boeing 737 aircraft in its 751-strong fleet.

– ‘Shock’ –

Xi called for “all efforts” to rescue and find out “the cause of the accident as soon as possible”, according to CCTV.

“We are shocked to hear about the China Eastern MU5735 accident,” he said, calling for “absolute security for the sector and the lives of the people”.

The arrival board at Guangzhou Airport displayed the aircraft’s flight details for hours after it crashed as airport staff in full PPE held up signs to help relatives of the passengers gather.

When dusk fell, there was still no information about the passengers.

A villager near the crash site named Liu told the state-run China News Service that he had ridden a motorcycle to the scene after hearing a loud explosion.

He said he saw debris on the ground, including a flying wing and fragments of clothing hanging from trees.

China had had an enviable air safety record in recent years as the country was crossed by newly built airports and serviced by new airlines established to match a breathtaking growth of the last few decades.

A Henan Airlines plane crashed in northeastern Heilongjiang province in 2010, killing at least 42 out of 92 people on board, though the final toll was never confirmed. It was the last Chinese commercial passenger plane crash that caused civilian casualties.

The deadliest Chinese commercial plane crash was a China Northwest Airlines crash in 1994, which killed all 160 on board.

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UPDATE | Xi orders the investigation of a plane with 132 crashes in China

Source link UPDATE | Xi orders the investigation of a plane with 132 crashes in China

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