Monday afternoon local time, a Chinese passenger aircraft carrying 132 people crashed in China’s southern Guangzhou region, China’s Civil Aviation Administration announced.
The plane was flown by Chinese Eastern Airlines, who released a statement in part saying, “China Eastern Airlines has activated the emergency mechanism, dispatched a working group to the scene, and opened a special line for emergency assistance to family members.”
According to Chinese authorities, “Boeing 737 was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming to Guangzhou when it lost contact over the city of Wuzhou. On board were 123 passengers and nine crew members,” CNN reported.
The plane apparently crashed in a mountainous region. Based on video, smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site. It is unclear what exactly caused the plane to fall out of the sky.
According to the Associated Press, the flight “had been traveling at about 30,000ft (9100m) when suddenly, just after 5.20pm AEDT, the plane entered a deep dive at its cruising altitude speed of 455 knots (842km/h), according to data from flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com. The data suggests the plane crashed within a minute and a half of whatever went wrong.”
Footage, allegedly from the situation, shows a massive fire on the ground where the plane apparently made contact.
“The accident caused a fire in the mountain, and the causes and victims are still unknown. Rescue operations are underway,” one journalist tweeted, sharing a video from Chinese TV:
🇨🇳 Un Boeing 737-800 de China, con 133 pasajeros a bordo, se ha estrellado en el sur del país, en las montañas de Guangxi.
El accidente causó un incendio en la montaña, y aún se desconocen las causas y víctimas. Las operaciones de rescate están en marcha.
Fuente: CCTV pic.twitter.com/cKnFcj8BnR
— ES.DECIR (@esdecirdiario) March 21, 2022
Debi Edward, Asia correspondent for ITV News, observed, “Scale of the fires indicates a slim chance of finding survivors.”
“Hoping that’s not the case,” she continued. “We wait for more information. Prayers with the loved ones of those on board.”
Video emerging from locals at the crash site in Guangxi where a plane carrying 133 people has gone down. Scale of the fires indicates a slim chance of finding survivors. Hoping that's not the case. We wait for more information. Prayers with the loved ones of those on board. pic.twitter.com/OltXuXLJ29
— Debi Edward (@debiedwarditv) March 21, 2022
However, Chinese television reported that the “situation with casualties remains unclear.”
The New York Times added more detailed information, noting the crash could be one of the worst in China’s history:
Officials in China have dispatched nearly 1,000 firefighters and 100 members of a local militia on a rescue mission to the site. According to Guangxi’s fire department, 117 emergency workers with about two dozen fire trucks have arrived on the scene.
The plane, about seven years old, had been flying steadily on this flight until it abruptly lost altitude at around 2:20 p.m., flight data indicated.
The plane was not a Boeing 737 Max, a model that has not resumed flying in China after a ban prompted by deadly crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019. But Chinese airline companies have begun making new orders for the Max after Chinese aviation authorities signaled late last year that the model could resume flying after introducing certain modifications and safety measures.
The crash could become one of China’s worst air disasters in many years, after a succession of deadly accidents in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, the country has established a relatively safe flying record, thanks to a young fleet of planes and stricter air controls.
At press time, the Associated Press noted that “People’s Daily reports 117 rescuers have already arrived at the crash site. Guangxi fire department is organising 650 rescuers who are heading to the site from three directions.”