No survivors found after plane nosedives into mountainside in China

22 March 2022, 06:02 | Updated: 22 March 2022, 08:31

No survivors were found in the aftermath of the China Eastern crash
No survivors were found in the aftermath of the China Eastern crash. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Will Taylor

No survivors have been found after a plane carrying 132 people crashed into a mountainside in China.

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Hundreds of rescuers deployed to the area near Wuzhou, in the south of the country, after the China Eastern Boeing 737-800 plummeted out of the sky.

Footage showed it apparently in a nosedive before crashing, which caused a massive fire to break out in a forested area that could be seen from Nasa satellites.

Chinese state media said on Tuesday morning: "Wreckage of the plane was found at the scene, but up until now, none of those aboard the plane with whom contact was lost have been found."

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All 109 of the 737-800s in China Eastern's fleet have been grounded.

The flight, which was travelling from Kunming, in the southern province Yunnan, east to Guangzhou, carried 123 passengers and nine crew members, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China [CAAC].

Local police were called by villagers about the crash at about 2.30pm [6.30am GMT], about 15 minutes after the plane lost contact.

It had been travelling at about 30,000ft when it suddenly entered a deep dive at about 6.20am GMT.

Horrific footage shows the plane in a rapid nosedive to the ground, disappearing behind a treeline before it crashes.

Sally Gethin, an aviation expert, told The Sun it is too early to speculate but suggested the sudden dive could have come from a tail malfunction.

"If the tail sheared off before the nosedive, the plane would lose all aerodynamics - it can't operate properly without the rudder in the tail. Nothing can be ruled out at this stage," she said.

Data also suggests the aircraft's altitude steadied briefly before plummeting to the ground, suggesting to Ms Gethin there was a "10 to 20-second spell where one or more of the pilots regained consciousness and tried to save the plane".

She believed all on board would have been unconscious during the dive before the crash. She went on to stress the 737-800 has a good safety record.

Chinese president Xi Jinping said there should be an "all-out effort" rescue operation and called for an investigation into the crash.

Shanghai-based China Eastern, one of China's biggest airlines, has set up nine teams to work on issues like investigating the accident and helping loved ones of the passengers.

Boeing, the aerospace giant based in Chicago, said it was "working to gather more information".

The last fatal crash of a civilian airliner in China was in 2010, when a jet crashed coming in to Yichun airport during low visibility. A total of 44 of the 96 on board died.