June 28, 2022
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China plane with 132 on board goes down in horrific crash

A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in mountains in southern China on a domestic flight on Monday following a sudden descent from cruising altitude.

Media said there was no sign of survivors and the airline said it deeply mourned the passengers and crew who had died.

The plane was flying from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong.

China Eastern said the cause of the crash, in which the plane descended at a final rate of 31,000 feet a minute according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24, was under investigation.

The airline said it had provided a hotline for relatives of those on board and sent a working group to the site.

Media cited a rescue official as saying the plane had disintegrated and caused a fire destroying bamboo trees. The People’s Daily quoted a provincial firefighting department official as saying there was no sign of life among the debris.

The aircraft, with 123 passengers and nine crew on board, lost contact over the city of Wuzhou, China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline said.

The flight left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and had been due to land in Guangzhou at 3:05 p.m. (0705 GMT).

The plane, which Flightradar24 said was six years old, had been cruising at an altitude 29,100 feet at 0620 GMT. Just over two minutes and 15 seconds later, data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet.

In another 20 seconds, its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet.

Crashes during the cruise phase of flight are relatively rare even though it accounts for the majority of flight time.

Boeing found in a report last year that only 13% of fatal commercial accidents globally between 2011 and 2020 occurred during the cruise phase, whereas 28% of fatal accidents occurred on final approach and 26% on landing.

“Usually the plane is on auto-pilot during cruise stage. So it is very hard to fathom what happened,” said Li Xiaojin, a Chinese aviation expert. “From a technical point of view, something like this should not have happened.”

Online weather data showed partly cloudy conditions with good visibility in Wuzhou at the time of the crash.

President Xi Jinping called for investigators to determine the cause of the crash as soon as possible and to ensure “absolute” aviation safety, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

A Boeing spokesperson said: “We are aware of the initial media reports and are working to gather more information.”

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