A China Eastern Boeing 737 with 132 people onboard crashed earlier Monday afternoon in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, causing a mountain fire. According to the instruction, the CAAC, the Ministry of Emergency Management and other relevant departments have sent working groups to the scene to guide the on-the-scene handling of the accident, and dispatched rescue forces on the provincial level and from the neighboring province of Guangdong. The handling of the aftermath and the investigation of the cause of the accident are under way.
This is the first air crash in China since a fatal incident took place in Yichun, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province back in 2010. The Yichun crash killed 44 people.
The plane, MU 5735, took off from Kunming Changshui airport in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province at 13:15, and was scheduled to arrive at Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province at 15:07. The crashed plane has 132 onboard, including 123 passengers, and nine crew members.
Sources told the Global Times that China Eastern Airlines has decided to ground all of the company’s Boeing 737-800 planes. China Eastern Airlines has also activated its emergency response mechanism, dispatched a working group to the site of the accident and set up a special emergency assistance hotline for victim families.
China Eastern Airlines expressed its deep condolences to the passengers and crew members killed in the plane crash, and promised to actively cooperate with the investigation.
At around 3 pm Monday, the Wuzhou Fire Brigade deployed a rescue team of 25 fire engines and 117 firefighters to the scene of the accident, an officer from the brigade told the Global Times on Monday.
“But as the accident site is too remote and in the mountains, fire engines could not reach the wreckage, and firefighters had to enter on foot,” said a brigade officer via phone. Later, 538 fire and rescue personnel from all over Guangxi rushed to the scene to help with the rescue efforts.
Plane wreckages, wallets, ID cards and other items found, but 132 persons still missing
The fire was extinguished at approximately 5:15 pm local time. At the rescue site, some wreckages of the plane, some wallets, ID cards, bank cards and other personal items of the missing persons were found, but as of press time, the missing persons had not been found.
Guangxi’s health authorities has sent a team of 12 specialists in intensive care, burns and orthopedic surgery for support. The Wuzhou city’s health authorities also sent more than 80 medical personnel and 36 ambulances to the scene, where they set up rescue points and prepared blood as well as all kinds of rescue supplies and equipment. More than 50 psychologists are expected to join them at the site.
Flight data from information provider VariFlight showed that after flight MU5735 took off from Kunming airport, it had been cruising at an altitude of about 8,869 meters. At 2:19 pm, the aircraft suddenly descended from cruising altitude, while flight speed also began to decrease from about 845 kilometers per hour. At 2:21, flight MU5735 lost its ADS-B radar signal also losing contact with the ground. The specific reason can only be determined when the black box has been recovered.
In terms of aircraft casualties, the situation appears grim, and the possibility of all onboard perishing cannot be ruled out. Moreover, search and rescue is difficult due to terrain around the crash site, while the impact of wildfires will present a high risk to anyone who managed to survive the crash, he said.
Meanwhile, an unidentified number of flights departing from Kunming, Yunnan Province, operated by China Eastern Airlines Monday afternoon were canceled, including flights to Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, and Xiamen, East China’s Fujian Province.
The aircraft involved is a Boeing 737-800, belonging to the Yunnan subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines and has been in operation of just over six and a half years. The plane was delivered in June 2015.
Boeing gave a statement on China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5735: “Our thoughts are with the passengers and crew of China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 5735. We are working with our airline customer and are ready to support them. Boeing is in contact with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and our technical experts are prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.”
Source: Global Times, CCTV