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No survivors in China Eastern Airlines crash, state broadcaster says

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There are no survivors following the crash of a Chinese airliner carrying 132 people, the country’s state broadcaster has confirmed.

The China Eastern Airlines plane was flying from Kunming to the eastern city of Guangzhou when it crashed in a mountainous area near the city of Wuzhou in the country’s south on Monday.

A search and rescue mission was launched but on Tuesday morning, state broadcaster CCTV said: “Wreckage of the plane was found at the scene but, up until now, none of those aboard the plane with whom contact was lost have been found.”

Plane plunged, steadied, and then plunged again before crash

Flight 5735 – a Boeing 737-800 – had been at 29,000ft when it entered a steep and fast dive about an hour into the journey, according to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.

It fell to 7,400ft before briefly regaining about 1,200ft in altitude.

Then it plunged again, crashing into the hills and bursting into flames.

China has nearly 1,200 737-800s, and all of those in China Eastern’s fleet have been grounded, according to state media.

Boeing 737-800s have been flying for more than 20 years and have been involved in 22 accidents during that time where planes were damaged beyond repair.

Plane debris is seen at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 21, 2022
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Investigators are starting to look in to the cause of the crash

Those accidents killed 612 people, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

The aircraft involved in Monday’s crash had been in service for around six years.

“We will be doing everything we can to support our customer and the accident investigation”

US firm Boeing said its technical experts “are prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China”, while US federal aviation investigators also offered to help.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said: “Trust that we will be doing everything we can to support our customer and the accident investigation during this difficult time, guided by our commitment to safety, transparency, and integrity at every step.”

Shares in Boeing took a hit on US markets, down 10% at one point, but closing down 3.6%.

Access to crash site will be difficult for investigators

Investigators from the CAAC and from China Eastern have already been sent to the site.

Access will be their first challenge – it is surrounded by mountains on three sides, with just one small path leading to the scene of the crash.

The 737-800 is not the same as the Boeing 737 MAX – a later version which was grounded worldwide for nearly two years after crashes in 2018 and 2019 killed 346 people.

An 18-month inquiry into those crashes – one in Ethiopia, and the other in Indonesia – identified a “horrific culmination” of failures at Boeing and among regulators.

China’s air safety record has improved in recent decades, as a growing middle class increases demand, and the last fatal crash of a Chinese airliner was in 2010.

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