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China Eastern Boeing 737 crashes in Guangxi mountains, fatalities confirmed

China Eastern Airlines has confirmed fatalities after a Boeing 737-800 carrying 132 people fell from the sky and crashed into the Guangxi mountains in southern China and caught fire on Monday. The exact number of fatalities is unknown.According to local media reports, rescue workers have found no sign of survivors at the time of publication."The company expresses its deep condolences for the passengers and crew members who died in the plane crash," the airline said in a statement.Flight MU5735 crashed into the remote mountains of the Guangxi region while flying from Kumming to Guangzhou. There were 123 passengers and nine crew members on board.Data from flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the aircraft sharply dropped from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 3,225 feet in three minutes before flight information stopped. Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out search and rescue efforts, reports Xinhua.Boeing said in a statement that it was "aware of the initial media reports and are working to gather more information." China Eastern Airlines has grounded all of its 737-800s.According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the Boeing 737-800 lost contact over Wuxhou city, losing height rapidly from cruising altitude before plummeting to the ground."Usually the plane is on auto-pilot during cruise stage. So it is very hard to fathom what happened," said Li Xiaojin, a Chinese aviation expert told Reuters.Firefighters were the first to reach the scene, where they battled, and extinguished, a blaze caused by the crash.Footage taken by local villagers and shared on social media showed fire and smoke from the crash with aircraft debris on the ground.Rescue operations underway for crashed plane MU5735, Photo Courtesy of @CGTNOfficial on TwitterChina's last major aircraft accident was twelve years ago in 2010 when a flight from Harbin crashed in Yichun during foggy weather, killing 42.At this time, there is no connection to the Boeing 737 MAX, a newer version of the 737 that has been grounded for nearly two years after being involved in two major accidents.Investigators have yet to name the cause of the MU5735 crash, and will look to the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder for clues as to what happened during the flight.The weather was said to be cloudy, but at the time of the crash, the weather was reported to have been good.Footage has been circulating of an aircraft, supposedly Flight MU5735, plummeting vertically from the sky.The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a tweet that it is "aware of reports that a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane crashed". The agency said it is ready to assist in the crash investigation if asked to do so by Chinese authorities, but China will take the investigation lead by default.
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