A Boeing 737 passenger plane carrying 132 people crashed Monday in southern China, threatening to be the country’s worst air disaster in recent years.
China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 crashed in a mountain range in Guangxi an hour after takeoff, according to many media reports in the country. The flight traveled from Kunming to Guangzhou city.
No information was available on casualties or the cause of the crash. Flight tracking sites showed the route was flown by a 737-800 aircraft rather than a Boeing 737 Max, which grounded in 2019 after two fatal accidents. Shares of the U.S. aircraft maker fell more than 7 percent to $ 181 in early-morning trading in New York.
China Eastern has said it will land all of its 737-800s starting Tuesday.
Data from the Flightradar24 tracker showed the six-year-old plane traveling at 29,100 feet before it began to lose speed and altitude.
The flight carried 123 passengers and nine crew members, according to the China Civil Aviation Administration. The aviation regulator said he had activated his emergency response and sent a crew to the crash site.
Firefighters in Wujo, where the plane landed, said the plane crashed in a remote mountainous area and 450 firefighters turned to the scene of the accident, according to state media.
A six-second video circulating on Chinese social media on Monday shows a black plane diving with its head in the ground. A Chinese mining company confirmed to the local press that the photos were taken on one of its security cameras, located one kilometer from the crash site.
On Monday, President Xi Jinping said a team of “leading friends” had been sent to carry out the rescue operation and investigate the cause of the crash. He instructed them to examine any connection to previous accidents.
Boeing said it was “aware of initial media reports and is working to gather more information.” China Eastern did not immediately respond to questions.
The crash may be one of China’s worst aviation disasters two decades after a series of accidents in the 1990s, which officials blamed Rapid growth of the aviation industry Without strict regulatory oversight.
Over the past two decades, China has suffered fewer accidents after the country upgraded its navy and introduced tighter government controls and regulatory audits.
The Boeing 737-800 that crashed Monday is different from the larger Max series that crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia within six months, killing a total of 346 people.
The global fleet of 737 Max aircraft was grounded for two years after the incidents involving an Indonesian carrier in October 2018 and an Ethiopian airline in March 2019. Boeing last year Reached a $ 2.5 billion settlement Compensate the families of those killed in accidents.
China was the last major market where the Boeing 737 Max was still awaiting approval for flight resumption. The US allowed flights to restart in December 2020, followed by EU regulators in January 2021.
China is a vital growth market for both Boeing and its European rival Airbus.
China Eastern shares were down 6.5% on a late trading day in Hong Kong.
Additional reports by Maiqi Ding and Oliver Ralph
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