A Boeing 737 airliner operated by China Eastern Airlines with 132 people aboard crashed into a hillside in southern China on Monday, leaving flaming wreckage strewn over a large area.
According to data from the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, China Eastern Airlines’ flight MU5735, which was on its way from Kunming to Guangzhou, suddenly plummeted more than 25,000 feet in three minutes about an hour into the flight, losing communication contact over the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi region before crashing to the ground. There were 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard.
Unconfirmed video shows the plane doing a vertical nosedive toward the ground.
The plane was not a Boeing 737 Max, the company’s troubled next-generation airliner, which has been involved in two deadly accidents in recent years. Rather, it was a twin-engine 737-800, which CBS News notes is “one of the world’s most widely used passenger jets for short- and medium-haul flights.” The safety record of the aircraft is excellent, and China’s aviation industry also has a strong safety record in recent years, after several crashes in the 1990s. China’s last fatal commercial-air accident came in 2010.
The New York Times reports that 117 emergency workers have arrived to the scene so far, with hundreds more expected. President Xi Jinping said he was “shocked” and ordered an investigation into the disaster.