Chinese airliner carrying 132 people crashes in southern China

(CNN) – A China Eastern Airlines jetliner carrying 132 people crashed in the mountains in southern China’s Guangxi region on Monday afternoon, according to China’s Civil Aviation Administration.

The 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, CAAC said in a statement posted online.
China Eastern Airlines later confirmed those details and the number of people on board the aircraft at the time of the crash.

“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,” the airline continued in a statement on its Weibo account.

There were no immediate details on the possible cause of the crash.
Boeing said in a statement it was “aware of the initial media reports and working to gather more information.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed the country’s emergency services to “organize a search and rescue” operation and “identify the causes of the accident,” state media reported.

“After the accident, President Xi Jinping immediately made instructions to start the emergency mechanism, organize search and rescue, and properly deal with the aftermath,” CCTV said.

Flight tracking data from FlightRadar24 showed that China Eastern Flight 5735 plunged more than 25,000 feet in less than two minutes.

Surveillance data showed the Boeing 737-800 had been at a cruising altitude of 29,000 feet when it started a rapid descent. The dive stopped briefly near 10,000 feet, before resuming, according to the data. Flight data was lost at 3,200 feet.

FlightRadar24 tweeted the information along with a chart that illustrated the dramatic descent.

Rescue teams are en route to the accident scene, where there is fire visible on site, but the casualties are unknown, CCTV reported earlier. Initial state media reports had indicated there were 133 people on board.

Footage posted online and shared by state media People’s Daily show plumes of smoke billowing from a mountainous, forested area. Another clip shows what appears to be wreckage from the plane on a muddy, mountain path.
The colors on the Boeing and China Eastern Airlines websites were changed to black and white in China, as a sign of respect in response to the crash.

CNN’s Lizzy Yee and Pete Muntean contributed to this report.

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