A plane carrying 132 people crashed in southern China on Monday, causing a mountain fire, state media reported, according to AFP.
The Boeing 737 plane, operated by China Eastern Airlines, crashed in the rural locality near Wuzhou city of the Guangxi region. The number of casualties and the cause of the crash is still unknown.
The flight had taken off from Kunming city at around 1 pm local time for its destination in Guangzhou.
“The exact location of the accident was Langnan township in Teng county,” a local official told the Agence France-Presse.
There were 123 passengers, and nine crew members, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
“The CAAC has activated the emergency mechanism and sent a working group to the scene,” it said in a statement. Chinese media reports corrected earlier reports of there being 133 people on board.
The plane rapidly lost speed and stopped transmitting data southwest of Wuzhou city at around 2.22 pm local time, reported the Bangkok Post.
Locals alerted the police about the crash at around 2.30 pm local time, reported the Associated Press. Rescue officials have reached the site of the crash.
The regional fire department said that Wuzhou fire brigade has sent 117 personnel an 23 fire trucks to the site, reported PTI. As many as 538 firefighters from other parts of Guangxi have also been deployed for the rescue operation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed shock over the incident. “We are shocked to learn of the China Eastern MU5735 accident”, said the President to state media. He also called for an investigation to ascertain the cause of the accident, reported AFP.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing was embroiled in controversy after two of its 737 Max jetliner planes crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia within months of each other in 2018. India’s ban on the aircraft model was lifted only last August.