A Boeing 737-800 aircraft belonging to China's Eastern Airlines has crashed while flying from the city of Kunming to Guangzhou, Reuters reported.
According to the flight-tracking website Flight Radar24, the aircraft departed Kunming, a city in southwest China at 1:11 pm local time (0511 GMT) and was scheduled to land in Guangzhou, in southern China at 3:05 pm (0705 GMT). However, the tracking on the site ended at 2:22 pm (0622 GMT) when the aircraft's altitude was 3225 feet (982 m) and speed was 376 knots. The current status of the aircraft remains unknown according to the site.
The aircraft went down in the mountains of Teng county in Guangxi province, the New York Times reported, which has led to a fire in the woods.
#UPDATE: A Boeing 737 passenger plane from Kunming to Guangzhou with 132 people on board is confirmed to have crashed in S China’s Guangxi Monday. Rescue operations are underway as casualties remain unknown. pic.twitter.com/SPaLt7saaT— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) March 21, 2022
State media has reported that rescue teams comprising of more than 600 responders have been dispatched to the accident site, even as the cause of the crash remains unknown. Visibility in the area was good at the time of the crash. The fire that started as a result of the crash has now been put out by firefighters, BBC reported.
133 people are reported to be onboard with 123 passengers and nine crew members, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, confirmed on its website.
As per the latest reports, there are likely to be no survivors of the mishap.
Air safety in China
The Chinese airline industry has one of the best safety records, Reuters reported. The country's last major accident was in 2010 when an Embraer E-90 jet crashed in low visibility conditions while approaching Yichun airport. 44 of the 96 people onboard fell victim to the accident.
China saw a succession of deadly air accidents in the 1990s, as a result, stricter air controls were implemented and a fleet of younger planes was introduced, the New York Times reported. In 1994, a Tupolev Tu-154 flying from Xian to Guangzhou crashed killing all 160 people on board.
The Boeing 737 involved in this accident is six years old and could be involved in one of the worst air disasters in the country's history. It is the predecessor to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that has been grounded in China for over three years now, Reuters reported.
Investigators will look to recover the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder to get more information on the moments preceding the crash.
Update: (0720 ET): Number of responders, weather conditions at the site, China's worst air mishap from 1994.
This is a developing story and will be updated shortly.