Flight MU5735 crashed in the Guangxi region while on a flight from the city of Kunming to Guangzhou.

China Eastern Airlines confirmed there had been fatalities after a jet carrying 132 people crashed into a mountain in southern China on Monday (Mar 21), without providing more information or giving details on any survivors. 

The company expresses its deep condolences for the passengers and crew members who died in the plane crash,” the airline said in a statement. 

According to local media reports, rescue workers have found no sign of survivors so far.

Flight MU5735 crashed in the Guangxi region while on a flight from the city of Kunming to Guangzhou, aviation authorities said. There were 123 passengers and nine crew members on board. 

Fears for the fate of the jet spread on Monday afternoon as local media reported that the flight had not arrived as planned in Guangzhou after taking off from Kunming shortly after 1pm.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed no data for the flight after 2.22 pm.

The tracker showed the plane sharply dropped from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 3,225 feet in three minutes, before flight information ceased.

The disaster prompted an unusually swift public reaction from President Xi Jinping, who said he was shocked and ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash.

Xi called for all efforts towards the rescue and to find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible according to CCTV.

We are shocked to learn of the China Eastern MU5735 accident, he said, calling for the absolute safety of the sector and people’s lives.

Hundreds of firefighters were dispatched to the scene in Teng county near Wuzhou, state media reported, as nearby villagers rushed to help the rescue effort.

Everyone went to the mountains, Tang Min, who runs a restaurant a few kilometres from the crash site, told AFP by telephone. 

One villager told a local news site that the plane had completely fallen apart and he had seen forest areas destroyed by the fire it caused when crashing into the mountainside.

Boeing said in a statement that it was aware of the initial media reports and working to gather more information.

The arrivals board at Guangzhou airport showed the jet’s flight information for hours after it had crashed, as staff in full PPE (personal protective equipment) held up signs to direct distraught relatives to a separate area that had been set up to receive them.

One relative waiting in Guangzhou airport told local media that she had been due to board the flight, but had changed her booking at the last minute to an earlier plane.

Her sister and four friends had taken the crashed plane, she added.

Now she was just waiting for news, she said. I feel very sad.

A villager near the crash site surnamed Liu told state-run China News Service that he had driven a motorbike to the scene after hearing a loud explosion.

He said he saw debris on the ground, including an aircraft wing and fragments of clothing hanging from trees.

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