Crash site of China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735
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The China Eastern airliner was carrying 132 passengers and nine crew members from Kunming to Guangzhou when it lost height and crashed into a mountainous area near the city of Wuzhou. Despite a search and rescue mission which was immediately launched, state broadcaster CCTV stated on Tuesday morning: “Wreckage of the plane was found at the scene but, up until now, none of those aboard the plane with whom to contact was lost have been found.”
The six-year-old Boeing 737-800 crashed approximately halfway through the two-hour journey after taking off at 1:11pm (5:11 am GMT) and tracking abruptly ending at 2:22pm (6:22 GMT).
The aircraft was flying at 29,000 ft before FlightRadar24 tracking data shows that it took a sudden steep and fast dive.
The plane dropped to 7,400ft before stabilising slightly as it regained approximately 1,200ft in altitude.
The airliner then plummeted again and never regained control leaving it to explode into flames upon impact with the hills.
A woman known by her surname Chen, spoke to the Global Times saying she lost six relatives in the crash and has lit 100 candles in their memory.
The cause of the crash is currently unknown, and reports say that the aircraft entirely disintegrated and caused a fire on the mountainside so large it could be seen in NASA satellite images.
The black box is yet to be recovered from the wreckage and President Xi Jinping has demanded an immediate investigation into the events leading to the crash.
A Chinese aviation expert has suggested that the cause may have been a “serious technical failure” causing the plane to lose engine power and the pilot to lose control but reiterated the importance of only drawing conclusions from the black box.
Wang Ya’nan was quoted in the Global Times saying that “it could be a very serious technical failure in which the plane inevitably enters a high-speed descent”.
State media have reported that the 1,200 Boeing 737’s in China and all of those in the fleet of China Eastern Airline have been grounded.
Boeing, an American firm, said that its technical experts “are prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China” alongside this, the US federal aviation investigators also offered to help.
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Dan Calhoun, Boeing Chief Executive said: “Trust that we will be doing everything we can to support our customer and the accident investigation during this difficult time, guided by our commitment to safety, transparency, and integrity at every step.”
Boeing 737s have flown for over two decades and have been involved in 22 accidents where planes were damaged beyond repair.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, these accidents killed 612 people.
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