China Eastern flight MU5735 crashes near Wuzhou

The sistership of the crashed Boeing 737-800. Photo: © Shadman Samee

A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 operating flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou has crashed near Wuzhou in the Guangxi region in Southern China. According to reports by Chinese state media, 132 people were on board the passenger aircraft and rescue services have been dispatched to the supposed crash site. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) confirmed the crash, saying there were nine crew members and 123 passengers on board the flight.

Data from flight tracking services indicate that the aircraft descended at a rate of more than 30,000 feet per minute before disappearing at 2:22 PM local time. Videos circulating on the internet show the Boeing 737 was completely destroyed on impact, which caused a large fire in the surrounding area. Pictures from the crash site show it impacted a small valley in mountainous and forestry terrain. It is not yet confirmed whether there are any survivors, but the footage indicates it is highly unlikely.

The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-800 registered as B-1791, that was delivered to China Eastern Airlines in June 2015. The Chinese airline says it has activated its emergency response team which is currently on its way to Wuzhou. American aircraft manufacturer Boeing says on Monday it is ready to support its airline customer and is in contact with the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to offer assistance to the investigation led by the CAAC.

China Eastern Airlines responded to the accident by grounding its fleet of Boeing 737-800. The aircraft type is not part of the 737 Max family that is still banned from flying in China. The Asian country has a good aviation safety record, with the last fatal loss of a commercial passenger aircraft happening in August 2010, despite China being the second largest aviation market on earth.