Passenger plane carrying 132 crashes in south China, rescue underway
A passenger plane with 132 people aboard crashed in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Monday afternoon, the regional emergency management department said.
The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft, which departed from Kunming and was bound for Guangzhou, crashed into a mountainous area near the Molang village in Tengxian County in the city of Wuzhou at 2:38 p.m., causing a mountain fire, according to the department.
"I heard the roar of a plane on the other side of the hill. A second later, there was an explosion," a worker near the crash site told Xinhua.
There were 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard flight MU5735, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its website. The administration said it has initiated an emergency response mechanism and its working team has arrived in Wuzhou.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the immediate launch of an emergency response, all-out search and rescue efforts and the proper settlement of the aftermath of the crash.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said in his instruction that he was shocked to learn about the accident.
Xi ordered that swift action be taken to identify the cause of the crash and to strengthen the safety overhaul of the civil aviation sector to ensure the absolute safety of both the sector and people's lives.
On behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, Vice Premier Liu He, also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and State Councilor Wang Yong have led relevant officials to guide rescue work, the settlement of the aftermath and investigation into the cause of the crash, in Wuzhou.
Villager Chen Weihao was working on a farm when he saw the plane nosedived.
"The plane looked to be in one piece when it nosedived. Within seconds, it crashed," said Chen, adding that the crash site was a gap in a mountain where no residents lived.
Flames from the crash have been extinguished and the rescue operation is underway, said Chen Jie, an official from the regional emergency management department.
The Wuzhou fire brigade has sent 117 firefighters with 23 fire trucks to the site. A further 538 firefighters from other parts of Guangxi have been dispatched to join the rescue efforts, the regional fire department said on its Weibo account.
The neighboring Guangdong Province has dispatched 505 firefighters and 97 vehicles to aid the rescue operation, with the first group already at the scene.
"There is some plane wreckage in a gap in the mountain," a rescue worker at the crash site told Xinhua. "There are pieces of the wings, one of them about 2 or 3 meters. There is other debris, with some probably being pieces of clothing."
Villager Shi Fuxiong said he saw a large pit at the crash site and surrounding trees within dozens of meters had been leveled.
The Guangxi regional health commission has dispatched 12 medical experts to the site, and over 80 medical workers and 36 ambulances sent by health authorities in the city of Wuzhou have arrived at the scene.
China Eastern Airlines said that it has initiated an emergency response mechanism. It has established nine special working groups for aircraft disposal, accident investigation, family assistance, logistics support, legal support, public relations, security, financial insurance, and cargo disposal.
The airline said the cause of the accident will be fully investigated.
Boeing China said it is aware of the media reports of the crash and is working to gather more information.