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President Xi calls for 'all-out efforts' to find China Eastern plane crash survivors

President Xi calls for 'all-out efforts' to find China Eastern plane crash survivors

This screengrab taken from a video from The Paper and received via AFPTV shows ambulances turning off onto a side road after China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 reportedly crashed in Teng County in Wuzhou City, Guangxi province on Mar 21, 2022. (Image: STR/The Paper/AFPTV/AFP)

BEIJING: President Xi Jinping called for "all-out" efforts to organise search and rescue for passengers on a China Eastern Airlines plane on Monday (Mar 21), after the jet carrying 132 people crashed into a mountainside in southern China.

Expressing "shock" at hearing the news of the crash, Xi instructed officials to the launch an emergency response immediately and to investigate the cause of the crash as soon as possible, according to state television CCTV.

China's Premier Li Keqiang also instructed officials to spare no effort in searching for survivors and to provide sufficient comfort to the victims' families, according to CCTV.

The Boeing 737 flight from Kunming city to the southern hub of Guangzhou "lost airborne contact over Wuzhou" city in the Guangxi region on Monday afternoon, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Fears for the fate of the jet spread on Monday afternoon as local media reported that China Eastern flight MU5735 had not arrived as planned in Guangzhou after taking off from Kunming shortly after 1pm.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed no data for the flight after 2.22 pm.

The tracker showed the plane had sharply dropped from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 3,225 feet in the span of three minutes, before flight information stopped.

FRAGMENTS OF CLOTHING ON TREES

"Can confirm the plane has crashed," China Eastern Airlines said in a statement in which it also gave details of a hotline for relatives of those on board.

The airline also confirmed late on Monday that at least some people had been killed, without providing more information or giving details on any survivors.

"The company expresses its deep condolences for the passengers and crew members who died in the plane crash," the airline said in a statement.

State broadcaster CCTV said the crash "caused a mountain fire" which was later extinguished, as rescuers poured to the scene in Teng county near Wuzhou.

A villager surnamed Liu told state-run China News Service that he had driven a motorbike to the scene after hearing a loud explosion.

He said he saw debris on the ground, including an aircraft wing and fragments of clothing hanging from trees.

The People's Daily quoted a provincial firefighting department official as saying there was no sign of life among the scattered debris.

China had enjoyed an enviable air safety record in recent years as the country was crisscrossed by newly built airports and serviced by new airlines established to match breakneck growth over the last few decades.

A Henan Airlines flight crashed in northeastern Heilongjiang province in 2010, killing at least 42 out of 92 people on board, although the final toll was never confirmed. It was the last Chinese commercial passenger flight crash that caused civilian casualties.

The deadliest Chinese commercial flight crash was a China Northwest Airlines crash in 1994, which killed all 160 onboard.

Source: Agencies/aj

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