A Chinese passenger jet carrying 132 people has crashed in mountains in southern China after plunging thousands of meters in just three minutes and bursting into flames on impact.
What caused China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735, which was en route to Guangzhou from the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, to suddenly drop altitude and then crash is currently unclear. It appears that there are no survivors from the flight.
Boeing has been at the center of safety controversies in the past few years, most notably over its 737 MAX plane which was taken out of service for well over a year around the world following concerns. The plane involved in today’s crash is a different model, the 737-800, an earlier build from Boeing confirmed to have none of the safety concerns attached to its successor.
Boeing has said it is ready to assist China Eastern in their investigations, adding that the company had already been in contact with aviation safety regulators.
“Our thoughts are with the passengers and crew of China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735,” the company said in a statement. “We are working with our airline customer and are ready to support them. Boeing is in contact with the US National Transportation Safety Board and our technical experts are prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.”
Unverified video footage aired by some Chinese media outlets appears to show a plane falling almost vertically to the ground, and plumes of smoking billowing from the mountainside in the aftermath. Teams of firefighters were quickly dispatched to the scene, and nearby villagers joined in with the rescue effort.
China Eastern made a brief statement on the matter, saying that the company “expresses its deep condolences for the passengers and crew members who died in the plane crash” and adding that it had sent a team of investigators to the scene. The airline is yet to release the number of passengers and crew onboard at the time of the crash, but Chinese state media said the firm had confirmed that no foreign nationals were on the flight.
Chinese president Xi Jinping has called for investigators to get to the bottom of what caused the crash as soon as possible, state broadcaster CCTV reports.