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China Eastern Airlines has now confirmed there were no survivors following yesterday's (March 21) crash.
The plane was carrying more than 130 people and it crashed into a mountainous region in China, according to state-owned broadcaster CCTV.
The airline has now confirmed initial media reports, sharing a statement on Chinese social media networking site Weibo, saying: "We can now confirm the plane has been involved in an accident.
The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 was flying from Kunming, Yunnan province in western China, to Guangzhou, Guandong province, when it suffered an 'accident' near Wuzhou, Guangxi province.
The airline has grounded its entire fleet of 737-800 planes as an investigation gets underway, according to news.com.au.
“The cause of the plane crash is under investigation and the company will co-operate with the relevant investigations," a statement from the company said.
The 737-800 is dubbed as one of the world's safest planes and experts are baffled as to how this particular aircraft seemingly dropped out of the sky.
Paul Hayes, director of air safety and insurance at aviation consultancy firm Cirium, told Bloomberg: “The 737 NG has been in operation for 25 years and has an excellent safety record.
#Breaking: Boeing 737 passenger plane reportedly crashes in South China. According to preliminary info, there were 133 passengers on board. According to preliminary info, it is Flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou.— Koustuv 🇮🇳 (@srdmk01) March 21, 2022
Visual allegedly from crash site. pic.twitter.com/H13NQIGyto
“I’m not going to speculate on what happened but if the Flightradar24 logs are accurate, something seems to have happened abruptly and the plane nose dived from cruising altitude.”
Eyewitnesses reported that the plane was seen simply dropping out of the air moments before it crashed.
"The plane fell vertically from the sky," one witness told the Global Times.
"Although I was far away, I could still see that it was a plane. The plane did not emit smoke during the fall, it fell into the mountains and started a fire, and then a lot of smoke came out."
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an 'all-out effort' to be made in the rescue operation, for post-crash arrangements to be handled appropriately and potential safety hazards investigated to ensure complete civil aviation flight safety.
A search is now underway for the plane's black box and flight record to find out what really happened on board before the crash.
China Eastern Airlines' website was turned to black and white to mourn those lost in the fatal crash, sharing its condolences to the passengers and crew members onboard.
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