China Eastern Airlines jet carrying 132 crashes in southern China

A China Eastern Boeing 737 aircraft crashed in southern China with 132 people aboard on Monday, state media reported. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

March 21 (UPI) — Rescue crews were searching for survivors of a plane crash Monday in southern China that involved a Boeing 737, officials said. The plane was carrying more than 130 people.

The China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 was headed from Kunming to Guangzhou when it crashed in Guangxi province, state media reported. The plane was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew, authorities said.

Investigators said the plane originally lost contact near the city of Wuzhou during the flight and went down in a mountainous area. Fire could be seen at the crash site.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration dispatched a rescue team to the site. It wasn’t immediately known how many people were killed or injured, or if there were survivors.Chinese President Xi Jinping was shocked to hear about the crash and ordered an “all-out search and rescue,” state-run Xinhua reported.The crash is the latest involving a Boeing 737 in recent years. Two Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 and forced Boeing to ground the fleet worldwide. The plane maker ultimately found a problem with the 737 Max’s automated flight software.

Monday’s crash in China, however, involved a Boeing 737-800 model, not a Max. The 737-800, also known as the 737 NG, has a sterling safety record and is considered one of the safest planes in commercial aviation.

“The 737 NG has been in operation for 25 years and has an excellent safety record,” Paul Hayes, director of air safety and insurance at Cirium, said, according to Bloomberg.

“I’m not going to speculate on what happened but … something seems to have happened abruptly and the plane nose-dived from cruising altitude.”

China Eastern Airlines said after the crash Monday that it would ground the 737-800 fleet pending an investigation.

Before Monday, the last major crash of a 737-800 plane occurred in August 2020 when a flight slid off the runway in India and killed almost two dozen people. Investigators later blamed the crash on the pilot.


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