NANNING, March 22 — No survivors have been found so far after a passenger plane with 132 people aboard crashed in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, an aviation official said late Tuesday.
The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft, which departed from Kunming and was bound for Guangzhou, maintained an altitude of 8,900 meters as it entered the Guangzhou air traffic control area at 2:17 p.m. Monday, but was found to have drastically plunged at 2:20 p.m., Zhu Tao, head of the aviation safety office of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), told a press briefing.
Air traffic controllers made repeated calls to the crew, but received no response. The plane lost its radar signal at 2:23 p.m. and was later found to have crashed in Tengxian County in the city of Wuzhou, according to Zhu.
No foreign nationals were on Flight MU5735, said Zhu, adding that the 132 people aboard were 123 passengers and nine crew members.
“Based on known information, the authorities do not yet have a clear clue as to the cause of the passenger plane crash,” said Zhu. “The investigation is very difficult as the aircraft was severely damaged.”
At present, the investigation team is carrying out a full probe in accordance with the procedures, with rescuers exploring the crash site and going all out to locate the black boxes, Zhu said.
The team is also thoroughly investigating other aspects of the accident, including flight, maintenance, air traffic control, meteorology, aircraft design and manufacturing, Zhu said.
Sun Shiying, chairman of the Yunnan branch of China Eastern Airlines, said at the briefing that contact was made with the families of all 123 passengers within 24 hours after the crash.
More than 2,000 people have joined the rescue operation at the site.
“The site of the crash in a mountain forest complicates the search for the black boxes and we have to rely mainly on drones and rescue staff,” said Zhu Xiaodong, a rescuer with a Guangzhou-based drone rescue center.
The CAAC has called for screening hidden risks to boost civil aviation safety. Concrete measures should be taken to strengthen the investigation of hidden dangers concerning aircraft maintenance, flight weather conditions, personnel qualifications and operational skills, it said.
On Tuesday, Boeing China said that it is cooperating with China Eastern Airlines, and its technical experts are ready to aid the CAAC in conducting the investigation. – XINHUA