(CMR) China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in mountains in southern China on Monday following a sudden descent from cruising altitude, according to China's Civil Aviation Administration.
The domestic flight, with 123 passengers and nine crew members, was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming to Guangzhou when it lost contact over the city of Wuzhou.
“China Eastern Airlines has activated the emergency mechanism, dispatched a working group to the scene, and opened a special line for emergency assistance to family members,” the airline said in a statement.
There were no immediate details on the possible cause of the crash; however, Boeing said in a statement it was “aware of the initial media reports and working to gather more information.”
According to CNN, Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly instructed the country's emergency services to “organize a search and rescue” operation and “identify the causes of the accident.”
Flight tracking data from FlightRadar24 showed that China Eastern Flight 5735 plunged more than 25,000 feet in less than two minutes. The Boeing 737-800 had reportedly been at a cruising altitude of 29,000 feet when it started a rapid descent. According to the data, the dive stopped briefly near 10,000 feet before resuming. Flight data was lost at 3,200 feet.
The colors on the Boeing and China Eastern Airlines websites were changed to black and white in China as a sign of respect in response to the crash.