China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735 was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members from Kunming towards Guangzhou when it plunged into the mountains in Guangxi on Monday afternoon, according to videos and witness accounts.
The plane plunged more than 25,000 feet in less than three minutes and crashed into a mountain near Mulang Village in Wuzhou City, sparking a forest fire.
The cause of the accident baffled the authorities and aviation experts. The weather was fine, the pilots did not sound their alarms and the plane did not appear to have crashed in flight. China has one of the strongest aviation safety records in the world.
Outgoing Federal Aviation Director Steve Dixon described the Boeing aircraft type as went down “One of the safest aircraft ever produced in commercial operation.”
Local officials said hundreds of firefighters and rescue teams were dispatched to the scene. The US National Transportation Safety Board has assembled a team of technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and engine maker CFM International to join the Chinese investigation into the crash.
The search teams recovered one of them black boxes, which contains information recorded from the flight that can help investigators determine the cause of the crash. Mao Yanfeng, an official with the China Aviation Administration, said on Wednesday that the black box had been seriously damaged.
The passengers included a young couple who were taking their young daughter for surgery in Guangzhou, two executives from a mining company in Guangzhou, a recently married woman and a woman returning to Guangzhou after returning home for the Lunar New Year, according to local media. mentioned.
More than 500 family members have disembarked in the nearby city of Wuzhou, awaiting news of the fate of their relatives who were on the ship, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The plane crash is the deadliest in China since 1994, when a China Northwest Airlines plane crashed in the city of Xi’an after an autopilot malfunction caused the plane to crash in mid-air, killing 160 people.
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