Ng Han Guan/AP
BEIJING – A Chinese plane has crashed in rural southern China with 132 onboard in what could be the country’s worst aviation disaster in two decades.
The Boeing 737 was operated by China Eastern Airlines, a state-run firm and one of China’s largest airlines.
Eyewitness videos from the crash site show debris – including what looked to be strips of the plane’s metal casing – littered across a mountainside in Guangxi’s Teng county. Other videos show a massive fire ringing the crash site. Authorities say they are battling a “mountain fire” and emergency workers have been sent to help.
Authorities have not yet determined the total number of casualties or why the plane went down.
This could be the worst Chinese airline aviation disaster since 2002, when an Air China flight took off from Beijing and crashed in Busan, South Korea, killing 129 people onboard.
Flight tracking radar showed it departed as scheduled from China’s Kunming city and flew en route to Guangzhou farther east. However, air control towers lost contact with the plane as it passed over Guangxi province.
China used to experience frequent and deadly plane crashes but strict safety guidelines and a fleet of new planes and airports have made crashes rare in the last two decades.
The last civilian plane crash on the Chinese mainland happened on August 24, 2010, when a plane crashed in the northeastern city of Yichun, killing 44 out of the 96 aboard.
Aowen Cao contributed research from Beijing.