Chinese recovery teams combed the debris of a crashed China Eastern jet with hopes fading of finding any survivors from the 132 people aboard.
No survivors have been found as rescuers searched the scattered wreckage of a China Eastern plane carrying 132 people that crashed on a wooded mountainside in southern Guangxi – the country’s worst air disaster in more than a decade.
“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,” state broadcaster CCTV said on Tuesday, more than 20 hours after the crash.
The Boeing 737-800, flight 5735, was flying at 8,840 metres when it entered a steep, fast dive around 0620GMT, according to data from FlightRadar24.com.
The plane plunged to 2,255 meters before briefly regaining about 370 meters in altitude, then dove again.
A base of operations was set up near the crash site with rescue vehicles, ambulances and an emergency power supply truck.
Scorch marks were visible from the crash and resulting fire, rescue workers said, with one speculating that passengers and their belongings had been “totally incinerated” from the intensity of the blaze.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an investigation into the crash and to ensure complete civil aviation safety.
US-based aviation analyst Robert Mann of R.W. Mann & Company said investigators will need the flight data recorders to understand what might have caused the abrupt descent suggested by Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data. ADS-B is a technology that allows aircraft to be tracked.
The crash comes as Boeing seeks to rebound from several overlapping crises, including the coronavirus pandemic and crashes involving its 737 MAX model.
The cockpit voice recorder could also yield clues to what went wrong once it is found.
“Accidents that start at cruise altitude are usually caused by weather, deliberate sabotage, or pilot error,” said Dan Elwell, a former Federal Aviation Administration head.
Elwell, who led the FAA during the 737-MAX crisis, said mechanical failures in modern commercial jets were rare at cruise altitude.
China Eastern and two of its subsidiaries on Monday grounded its fleet of 737-800 planes, state media reported.