By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
BEIJING (Worthy News) – China’s hardline leader Xi Jinping ordered rescuers to do their utmost after a China Eastern Airlines plane carrying 132 people crashed in the mountains in southern Guangxi province.
There were 123 passengers and nine crew members on board the Boeing 737-800, confirmed the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAA). It is feared no one survived.
Rescuers should “handle the aftermath in a proper manner,” Xi stressed in a statement. Following Monday’s crash, the central government dispatched officials to the scene to deal with the disaster and investigate its causes. “Ensure the absolute safety of civil aviation operations,” Xi said in his instructions.
“The situation with casualties remains unclear,” stressed an online report issued by Chinese state television. If there were no survivors, the crash could become one of China’s worst air disasters in decades after a succession of deadly accidents in the 1990s, experts said.
Flames and smoke could be seen rising from a hillside soon after the Boeing 737 plane, operated by China Eastern Airlines, went down in the Guangxi region. The fire was put out later Monday.
Residents in the area told reporters that the plane appeared to have shattered into debris, dampening hopes of finding survivors.
Initial reports said the plane, Flight 5735, crashed in Teng County in Guangxi while flying from Kunming, a city in southwest China, to Guangzhou, a city in the Country’s far south.
The plane, about seven years old, had been flying steadily on this flight until it abruptly lost altitude at around 2:20 p.m., flight data indicated. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, with investigators expected to retrieve the black box flight data.
The aircraft was not a Boeing 737 Max, a model that banned flying in China after deadly crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019.
But Chinese airline companies have reportedly begun making new orders for the Max as Chinese aviation authorities signaled late last year that the model could resume flying with modifications and safety measures.
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