China plane crashes with 132 on board; No sign of survivors yet

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A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in mountains in southern China on a domestic flight on Monday and media reported that rescue workers had found no sign of survivors.

The plane was flying from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash.

“Can confirm the plane has crashed,” China Eastern Airlines said in a statement in which it also gave details of a hotline for relatives of those on board.

Media cited a rescue official as saying the plane had disintegrated and caused a fire destroying bamboo trees. The People’s Daily quoted a provincial firefighting department official as saying there was no sign of life among the scattered debris.

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The aircraft, with 123 passengers and nine crew on board, lost contact over the city of Wuzhou, China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline said.

The plane crashed in the rural countryside near Wuzhou city, Guangxi region and “caused a mountain fire,” Chinese state media CCTV said. 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.

The flight left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and had been due to land in Guangzhou at 3:05 p.m. (0705 GMT).

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The plane, which Flightradar24 said was six years old, had been cruising at an altitude 29,100 feet at 0620 GMT. Just over two minutes and 15 seconds later, data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet.

In another 20 seconds, its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet, indicating a vertical descent of 31,000 feet per minute, Flightradar24 said.

Online weather data showed partly cloudy conditions with good visibility in Wuzhou at the time of the crash.

President Xi Jinping called for investigators to determine the cause of the crash as soon as possible and to ensure “absolute” aviation safety, state broadcaster CCTV reported.