Chinese passenger plane with 132 aboard crashes in Guangxi province, casualties unknown
Beijing, Mar 21 (PTI) A Chinese passenger plane with 132 people on board crashed in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Monday, the regional emergency management department said.
The Boeing 737 aircraft of China Eastern Airlines, which flew from Kunming to Guangzhou, crashed in Tengxian County in the city of Wuzhou, causing a mountain fire, the department was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The 132 people included 123 passengers and nine crew members, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its website.
The number of casualties is not clear yet, the report said.
The Wuzhou fire brigade has sent 117 firefighters with 23 fire trucks to the site. Further 538 firefighters from other parts of Guangxi have been dispatched to join the rescue efforts, the regional fire department said.
The fire has been put out and the rescue operation is underway, said Chen Jie, an official with the regional emergency management department.
State-run CCTV reports that the airlines set up nine teams with focuses like aircraft disposal, accident investigation and family assistance.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he was shocked to learn about the crash and ordered an all-out search and rescue efforts.
In his instructions issued soon after the incident, Xi said he was shocked to learn about the incident involving China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou,
He ordered the immediate launch of emergency response, all-out search and rescue efforts and proper settlement of the aftermath, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
He said swift action should be taken to identify the cause of the crash and to strengthen the safety overhaul of the civil aviation sector to ensure the absolute safety of the sector and people’s lives.
State-run CGTN reported that the first rescue team has reached the crash site in the remote mountains.
Premier Li Keqiang urged efforts to console the families of the victims and provide them with assistance, release accurate information in a timely manner, conduct a serious probe into the incident, and take strong measures to strengthen the safety of civil aviation.
Work teams have been dispatched to the scene by relevant departments. Rescue forces from Guangxi and neighboring Guangdong Province have been mobilized.
Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines – one of China’s three major air carriers – has grounded all of its Boeing 737-800 after the crash on Monday, company officials said.
The airlines also made its website have a black-and-white homepage after the crash as it prepared to announce the casualties.
According to news portal The Paper, a staff member at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport said that flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou has not arrived at its destined time, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
The domestic flight was scheduled to take off from Kunming at 1.10 pm (local time) and arrive at Guangzhou at 2.52 pm (local time) and is now marked out of reach on Baiyun airport’s app.
Following the accident, videos and pictures purporting to come from the scene started circulating on social media showing smoke billowing from a hillside and wreckage on the ground.
China’s airlines had recorded over 100 million continuous hours of safe flight as of February 19, according to Zhu Tao, an official with the Civil Aviation Administration, the Post reported.
The last domestic fatal incident was in 2010, when a plane crashed in Yichun, Heilongjiang province, killing 42 people.