Plane carrying 132 crashes in China, casualties unknown
Monday - 21/03/2022 06:25
A China Eastern passenger jet carrying 132 people has crashed in southwest China with an unknown number of casualties.
A China Eastern passenger jet carrying 132 people crashed in southern China on Monday, aviation authorities said, with state media reporting it led to a fire on a mountain and the number of casualties unknown.
The Boeing 737 flight from Kunming city to the southern hub of Guangzhou “lost airborne contact over Wuzhou” city in the Guangxi region, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in an online announcement.
Shocking footage emerging from the site of the crash shows fire ripping through a forest on a mountain — sending plumes of smokes into the air — and fragments of the aircraft scattered around.
“At present, it has been confirmed that this flight has crashed,” the CAAC said, adding that it had activated its emergency response and “dispatched a working group to the scene”.
The plane was carrying 123 passengers and 9 flight crew members, the CAAC said. An earlier state media report had said there were 133 people on board.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that the plane crashed in Teng county near Wuzhou and “caused a mountain fire”, citing the provincial emergency management bureau.
The report added that rescue teams were dispatched to the scene. One villager told a local news site that the plane involved in the crash had “completely fallen apart” and he had seen nearby forest areas destroyed by a fire caused when the plane crashed onto the mountainside.
Fears for the fate of the jet spread on Monday afternoon as local media reported that China Eastern flight MU5735 had not arrived as planned in Guangzhou after taking off from Kunming shortly after 1pm (4pm AEDT).
Flight tracker FlightRadar24 showed no more data for flight MU5735 after 2:22 pm local time, when it had reached Wuzhou. It showed that the plane had sharply dropped from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 3,225 feet in the span of three minutes, before flight information stopped.
Local media reported that China Eastern flight MU5735 had not arrived at its scheduled destination in Guangzhou after it took off from the city of Kunming shortly after 1pm (4pm AEDT) Monday, citing airport staff.
The China Eastern flight departed at 1:11 pm, FlightRadar24 data showed and had been due to land at 3:05 pm. The flight tracking ended at 2:22 pm.
The plane stopped transmitting data just southwest of the Chinese city of Wuzhou. The aircraft was delivered to China Eastern from Boeing in June 2015 and had been flying for over six years.
China had enjoyed an enviable air safety record in recent years in a country criss-crossed by newly built airports and serviced by new airlines established to match the country’s breakneck growth over the last few decades.
A Henan Airlines flight crashed in northeastern Heilongjiang province in 2010, killing at least 42 out of 92 people on board although the final toll was never confirmed.
It was the last Chinese commercial passenger flight crash that caused civilian casualties. The deadliest Chinese commercial flight crash was a China Northwest Airlines crash in 1994 which killed all 160 onboard.
Most of the passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, were from China.
The twin-engine, single aisle Boeing 737 is one of the world’s most popular planes for short and medium-haul flights.
China Eastern operates multiple versions of the common aircraft, including the 737-800 and the 737 Max.
The 737 Max version was grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes. China’s aviation regulator cleared that plane to return to service late last year, making the nation the last major market to do so.
There was no immediate response from China Eastern when contacted by AFP. The airline had changed its website to black and white colours on Monday afternoon.
“The exact location of the accident was Langnan township in Teng county,” a local official told AFP, without giving further details.
Serious questions asked about Boeing
The crash comes amid falling trust in Boeing after two crashes involving the planes in recent years.
The iconic company, created in 1916, introduced the commercial jet that made flying affordable for most people and for many years was the most popular supplier of aircraft to airlines around the world.
Most of us have who have flown have been on a Boeing plane. At any minute there are around 10,000 Boeing planes in service in more than 150 countries around the globe.
But that trust was shaken when two planes fell out of the sky killing hundreds, within months of each other — Lion Air Flight 610 which crashed in Indonesia in 2018, killing 189 people, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 which claimed 157 lives when it crashed in Ethiopia.
What was extremely shocking was they were both brand new planes, the 737 Max.
Jon Ostrower, Editor in Chief of aviation publication The Air Current said: “Two crashes of brand new aeroplanes within five months of each other, that doesn’t happen in modern aviation.”
When the Lion Air plane was downed, initially there was a lot of finger-pointing and the heat was turned on the pilots. Nobody could believe the brand new plane could be the problem.