According to officials and flight-tracking data, a Boeing Co. 737-800 passenger plane operated by China Eastern Airlines plunged from the sky and slammed into the mountains of southern China, with 132 aboard.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China announced in an online statement that China Eastern Flight 5735 crashed in the Guangxi area on Monday afternoon while traveling from the southwestern city of Kunming to the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.
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According to Flightradar24 tracking data, the jet was moving at 457 knots, or 526 miles per hour, at an altitude of 29,100 feet at 2:19 p.m. local time when it went into a precipitous descent. According to the same source of data, the jet dropped more than 25,000 feet in less than three minutes, to an altitude of just 3,225 feet, where the tracking data stops.
After the plane crash, the Wuzhou fire rescue team immediately dispatched 23 fire trucks and 117 rescuers to the scene.
Before Monday, China Eastern had gone almost 17 years without an accident. It is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, which also includes Delta Air Lines Inc. It carries 130 million passengers a year and has a 6 out of 7 rating on airlineratings.com.
The airline’s website has since been themed with black and white, as is customary in the aftermath of a tragedy as a show of respect for the presumed victims. All 737-800s in China Eastern’s fleet have since been grounded in the wake of the crash, state media reported.