No survivors found in China Eastern plane crash, state media says (2022)

The Boeing 737-800 crashed near the city of Wuzhou with 132 people on board.

BEIJING, China — Mud-stained wallets. Bank cards. Official identity cards. Poignant reminders of 132 lives presumed lost were lined up by rescue workers scouring a remote Chinese mountainside Tuesday for the wreckage of a China Eastern flight that one day earlier inexplicably fell from the sky and burst into a huge fireball.

No survivors have been found among the 123 passengers and nine crew members. Video clips posted by China's state media show small pieces of the Boeing 737-800 plane scattered over a wide forested area, some in green fields, others in burnt-out patches with raw earth exposed after fires burned in the trees. Each piece of debris has a number next to it, the larger ones marked off by police tape.

Search teams planned to work through the night using their hands, picks, sniffer dogs and other equipment to look for survivors, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The steep, rough terrain and the huge size of the debris field were complicating the search for the black box, which holds the flight data and cockpit voice recorder, CCTV and the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Drones were being used to search the fragments of wreckage that were scattered across both sides of the mountain into which the plane crashed, state media reported.

As family members gathered at the destination and departure airports, what caused the plane to drop out of the sky shortly before it would have begun its descent to the southern China metropolis of Guangzhou remained a mystery.

(Video) No survivors found in China Eastern plane crash, state media says

At an evening news conference, a grim-faced Zhu Tao, director of the Office of Aviation Safety at the Civil Aviation Authority of China, said efforts were focused on finding the black box and that it was too early to speculate on a possible cause of the crash.

“As of now, the rescue has yet to find survivors. The public security department has taken control of the site," Zhu said.

The crash left a deep pit in the mountainside about the size of a football field, Xinhua said, citing rescuers. Chen Weihao, who saw the falling plane while working on a farm, told the news agency it hit a gap in the mountain where nobody lived.

“The plane looked to be in one piece when it nosedived. Within seconds, it crashed,” Chen said.

China Eastern flight 5735 crashed outside the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi region while flying from Kunming, the capital of the southwestern province of Yunnan, to Guangzhou, an industrial center not far from Hong Kong on China’s southeastern coast. It ignited a fire big enough to be seen on NASA satellite images before firefighters could extinguished it.

No foreigners were on board the lost flight, the Foreign Ministry said, citing a preliminary review.

Dinglong Culture, a Guangzhou company in both mining and TV and movie production, said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange that its CFO, Fang Fang, was a passenger. Zhongxinghua, an accounting firm used by Dinglong, said that two of its employees were also on the flight.

(Video) No signs of survivors in China Eastern plane crash

The crash site is surrounded on three sides by mountains and accessible only by foot and motorcycle on a steep dirt road in the semitropical Guangxi region, famed for some of China’s most spectacular scenery.

Rain fell Tuesday afternoon as excavators dug out a path to make access easier, CCTV said. The steepness of the slope made the positioning of heavy equipment difficult.

A base of operations was set up near the crash site with rescue vehicles, ambulances and an emergency power supply truck parked in the narrow space. Soldiers and rescue workers combed the charred crash site and surrounding heavily dense vegetation.

Police restricted access, checking each vehicle entering Molang, a village near the crash site. Five people with swollen eyes walked out of the village, got into a car and left. Onlookers said they were relatives of the passengers.

Family members gathered at Kunming and Guangzhou airports. People draped in pink blankets and slumped in massage chairs could be seen in a traveler rest area in the basement of the one in Kunming. Workers wheeled in mattresses and brought bagged meals. A security guard blocked an AP journalist from entering, saying that “interviews aren’t being accepted.”

In Guangzhou, relatives were escorted to a reception center staffed by employees wearing full protective gear to guard against the coronavirus.

At least five hotels with more than 700 rooms had been requisitioned in Wuzhou's Teng county for family members, Chinese media reported.

(Video) China Eastern Boeing 737 plane crashes in Guangxi province with 132 people on board

Workers in hazmat suits set up a registration desk and administered COVID-19 tests at the entrance to one hotel, outside of Molang. A sign read, "The hotel is requisitioned for March 21 plane accident emergency use.” At another hotel, a group of women, some wearing vests with Red Cross markings, registered at a hotel desk set up outside.

The nation's first fatal plane crash in more than a decade dominated China's news and social media. World leaders including Great Britain's Boris Johnson, India's Narendra Modi and Canada's Justin Trudeau posted condolences on Twitter.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said that the company was deeply saddened by the news and had offered the full support of its technical experts to assist in the investigation.

“The thoughts of all of us at Boeing are with the passengers and crew members ... as well as their families and loved ones,” he wrote in a message to Boeing employees.

The plane was about an hour into its flight, at an altitude of 29,000 feet (8,840 meters), when it entered a steep, fast dive around 2:20 p.m., according to data from The plane plunged to 7,400 feet before briefly regaining about 1,200 feet in altitude, then dove again. The plane stopped transmitting data 96 seconds after starting to dive.

The aircraft was delivered to the airline in June 2015 and had been flying for more than six years.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, where the flight was headed, is one of China’s main aviation hubs. It is the home base for China Southern Airlines. As the pandemic upended air travel, it rocketed past Beijing and Atlanta to claim the title of world’s busiest airport in 2020 — the most recent year for which annual data is available — handling more than 43 million passengers.

(Video) China Eastern Airlines passenger jet crashes with 132 people on board | The World

Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province, home to export-driven factories making smartphones, toys, furniture and other goods. Its Auto City district has joint ventures operated by Toyota, Nissan and others. Kunming, the departure city which is 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) west, is the capital of Yunnan province, an agricultural, mining and tourism center that borders Southeast Asia.

China Eastern, which is headquartered in Shanghai, has grounded all of its 737-800s, China’s Transport Ministry said. Aviation experts said it is unusual to ground an entire fleet of planes unless there is evidence of a problem with the model.

The airline is one of China's three largest carriers with more than 600 planes, including 109 Boeing 737-800s. The grounding could further disrupt domestic air travel already curtailed because of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in China since the initial peak in early 2020.

The Boeing 737-800 has been flying since 1998 and has an excellent safety record, said Hassan Shahidi, president of the Flight Safety Foundation. It is an earlier model than the 737 Max, which was grounded worldwide for nearly two years after deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Before Monday, the last fatal crash of a Chinese airliner occurred in August 2010, when an Embraer ERJ 190-100 operated by Henan Airlineshit the ground short of the runway in the northeastern city of Yichun and caught fire. It carried 96 people and 44 of them died. Investigators blamed pilot error.


Kang reported from Kunming, China. Associated Press researcher Yu Bing and news assistant Caroline Chen in Beijing, researcher Si Chen in Shanghai, video producer Olivia Zhang in Wuzhou, China, writer Adam Schreck in Bangkok and airlines writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

(Video) Boeing Plane Crash In China: Families Told There Are Likely No Survivors


What caused the crash in China plane? ›

The Eastern Airlines jet crashed into a mountain after a steep dive. The China Eastern Airlines plane crash that killed 132 people is believed to have been caused by an intentional act, according to U.S. officials who spoke to ABC News.

Has there ever been a sole survivor of a plane crash? ›

A woman who was 12 when she became the sole survivor of the 2009 Yemenia Airways crash in the Comoros islands that killed all 152 others on board has described the terrifying moments leading up to her plunge into the ocean and subsequent rescue as part of the French trial against the airline.

How likely are you to survive a plane crash? ›

According to a study by the European Transport Safety Council, plane crashes technically have a 90% survivability rate, and this figure is increasing, largely thanks to modern aircraft design, which features enough exits to allow for a full passenger evacuation in around 90 seconds.

What is the deadliest air crash in history? ›

KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736, March 27, 1977

This crash remains the deadliest ever, claiming the lives of 583 people when two 747s collided on a foggy runway on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

What is a black box on a plane? ›

A black box is a flight data recorder that must be in every air vehicle. All flight information is recorded into the black box with a specific algorithm. This makes the recorded flight data accessible to authorities when needed. Contrary to popular belief, the black box is mostly bright orange, not black.

When was the last plane crash in the world? ›

On the evening of August 7, 2020, Air India Express Flight 1344 crashed with 190 people on board during a botched landing attempt at Kozhikode Calicut International Airport. Eighteen people were killed in the Air India crash and more than 150 others sustained injuries.

Has anyone survived a plane crash into the ocean? ›

Bahia Bakari (born 15 August 1996) is a French woman who was the sole survivor of Yemenia Flight 626, an Airbus A310, which crashed into the Indian Ocean near the north coast of Grande Comore, Comoros on 30 June 2009, killing the 152 other people on board.

What is the highest height a person has fallen and survived? ›

Vesna Vulović (Serbian Cyrillic: Весна Вуловић, pronounced [ʋêsna ʋûːloʋitɕ]; 3 January 1950 – 23 December 2016) was a Serbian flight attendant who holds the Guinness world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute: 10,160 m (33,330 ft; 6.31 mi).

Do pilots survive plane crashes? ›

Abstract. Context: Most pilots survive airplane crash landings in small airplanes. Factors associated with pilot death have not been well studied.

Is it better for a plane to crash on land or water? ›

Its surviving rate is probably greater than on land. I have seen many pilots preferring to land on water. Its surviving rate is probably greater than on land. Surviving impact perhaps, when landing on water, but if not close to land unlikely to survive for too much longer.

Would a plane crash be painful? ›

Airplane crashes cause a substantial amount of pain and suffering for all those involved—families, friends and the surrounding community. Dealing with that pain and suffering can at times be unbearable, especially given the suddenness of a loved one being taken away.

Where should you sit to survive a plane crash? ›

When looking at what seats gave you the best chance of surviving a crash, the middle seats in the plane's rear came out the best with a 28% fatality rate. The worst seats were on either side of the aisle in the middle of the aircraft, with a 44% fatality rate.

Can you destroy a black box? ›

"The black box is a well-developed piece of equipment designed to withstand enormous forces from an aircraft accident, but nothing is indestructible if a concerted effort is made to open or destroy it," Adrian Gjertsen, the director of U.K.-based aviation consultancy Aviation Support Limited, told NBC News.

Why are black boxes kept in water? ›

Question: Why, after a plane has crashed into the water, do investigators put the "black box" back in water? – Will Cowger, Houston. Answer: If a flight data recorder is recovered from the water, it is submerged in fresh, clean water to prevent deposits such as salt or minerals from drying out within the device.

How long can black box survive? ›

The unit sits inside the fire at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius) for one hour. The FAA requires that all solid-state recorders be able to survive at least one hour at this temperature.

Can you smoke on any planes? ›

The US government began to phase out smoking in 1988, and by 2000, it was prohibited on all US flights. The rest of the world followed suit, and today — on paper, at least — smoking is banned on all commercial flights.

How often do private planes crash? ›

NTSB statistics from 2013 reveal that in contrast to the safety record of commercial airplanes, small private planes average five accidents per day, accounting for nearly 500 American deaths in small planes each year.

Are trains safer than planes? ›

Trains also are safer than planes, in part, because many train stations have open-air platforms where travelers board, Dr. Aaron Rossi told USA Today in October. That's far less risky than the indoor settings of airport security lines and waiting areas where passengers gather and sit before boarding.

What happens to a body in a plane crash in water? ›

This Is What Happens To Your Body If You Die In A Plane Crash - YouTube

Do planes sink in the ocean? ›

Can a large modern jet airliner plunge intact underwater from flight? No. Large airliners are not desgned for this and are not even strong enough to make a landing on water in less than perfect conditions. striking the surface at a larger angle would certainly lead to widespread disintegration.

How long does it take for a plane to sink in the ocean? ›

Most airplanes are riddled with holes for instruments and pressurization so they are neither air-tight or water-tight. But, providing they are not damaged on impact, most passenger jets are designed to float for long enough for an emergency evacuation to occur, which is roughly 90 seconds.

What happens to a body that falls from a great height? ›

A fall from a great height can disconnect the aorta - the largest blood vessel pumping blood - from the heart. The heart may then continue to beat and distribute blood into the body cavity, but this only continues for a few seconds.

Can you survive jumping out of a plane into water? ›

Assuming you've reached terminal velocity — the maximum falling speed — it won't feel good impacting water, but you still could survive if it's deep. Try to hit the water head or feet first to minimize your body's surface area that will take the brunt of the force of impact.

Has anyone lived after their parachute didn't open? ›

Soviet Air Force lieutenant who was shot down by Germans during World War II, and skid down a ravine when his parachute failed to open. Suffered severe spinal injuries. British Royal Air Force rear gunner survived a fall with only a broken wrist and leg. Landed in deep snow drift in a pine forest near Berlin.

What kills passengers in a plane crash? ›

When an explosion tears a hole in the plane and the cabin's pressure bubble bursts, however, something called "explosive decompression" takes place. In short, the pressure difference rushes at a person so fast, it tears their body apart.

Can a parachute save you in a plane crash? ›

IT IS MOST unlikely that a parachute will be of use if a passenger plane crashes. Even a plane-load of active military parachutists takes several minutes of reasonably steady flight to exit. Parachuting takes nerve, skill, and strength.

Has turbulence brought down a plane? ›

The short answer is no, and rest assured that the pilots know how uncomfortable turbulence can make passengers feel. And know that no aircraft has ever crashed because of turbulence. "Turbulence has not caused an airplane to crash," Biddle said.

Is it legal to bring a parachute on a plane? ›

You may transport parachutes, either with or without Automatic Activation Devices, in carry-on or checked bags. Parachutes should always be packed separately from other baggage. If a TSA officer determines that a bag must be opened to inspect the parachute, you must be present to assist in the inspection.

How many planes have crashed into the ocean? ›

List of airplane accidents in Atlantic ocean - 1001 Crash.

Do pilots train for water landings? ›

Ditching is a controlled emergency landing on water. It can be caused by almost anything, but usually it's because of engine failure or running out of fuel. Pilots only decide to ditch an aircraft when there is no better alternative. Despite the difficulty, pilots don't undergo extensive training on ditching.

What does flying do to your body? ›

When you fly, you likely experience some side effects of dehydration. Dry, cracked skin, chapped lips, peeling cuticles, and even nose bleeds are common after spending even a short period of time in the air. Dehydration can also cause headaches, digestive issues, and fatigue.

What happens if a plane gets struck by lightning? ›

If a plane is struck by lightning, the pilots check all the systems to ensure everything is functioning. If a serious issue is detected, the aircraft will divert to land at the nearest airport. A less severe strike may see the plane returning to its origin or continuing onto its destination, depending on the severity.

Why do they tell you to put your head between your legs on a plane? ›

All of it. It's right up there with the urban legend that in-flight oxygen masks actually deprive passengers of oxygen so they pass out pre-mayday. So why the brace? According to America's Federal Aviation Administration, the position both reduces flailing and secondary impact (particularly to the head).

Which airline is the safest? ›

This year, Air New Zealand has come out on top on the annual safety table, which monitors 385 carriers from across the globe, measuring factors such as the airlines' crash and serious incident records, the age of their aircraft, as well as Covid-19 protocols and operational innovation.

What is the plus 3 minus 8 rule? ›

Remember the Plus 3/Minus 8 Rule

In the aviation world, Plus 3/Minus 8 refers to the first three minutes after takeoff and the last eight minutes before landing. According to flight crash investigators, close to 80% of all plane crashes occur during this timeframe.

Which airline has never had a crash? ›

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian has been flying planes since 1929 and never once had a fatal accident, making it, if our stats stand up, the longest functioning carrier to have never lost a passenger. It may have suffered two bankruptcies (1993 and 2003) but it has not compromised on safety.

What is the most unsafe airline in the US? ›

Here's the ranking of US airlines from MOST complaints in May 2022 to LEAST complaints in May 2022:
  • American Airlines (575 complaints)
  • United Airlines (400 complaints)
  • Frontier Airlines (301 complaints)
  • Delta Air Lines (281 complaints)
  • Spirit Airlines (269 complaints)
  • JetBlue Airways (244 complaints)
Aug 8, 2022

Are larger planes safer? ›

Q: Is it safer to be on a smaller plane or larger one? A: It is not possible to make a safety differentiation between small or large airplanes because the terms are vague. Regional airline-size airplanes have a somewhat higher accident rate than do larger airline jets.

Why did the plane crash in flight? ›

The root cause of the crash was found to be inadequate maintenance of the airplane's stabilizer "jackscrew," which caused its threads to wear down excessively and eventually jam the jackscrew.

Is the 737 Max still grounded? ›

After a 20-month review that included design and software changes as well as enhanced training, the FAA agreed in late 2020 to allow the plane to fly again. Airlines around the world began returning them to service last year, though they remain grounded in some countries, most notably China.

How do black boxes survive? ›

The boxes themselves are made of stainless steel or titanium and made to withstand high impact velocity or a crash impact of 3,400 Gs and temperatures up to 2000 degrees F (1,100 degrees C) for at least 30 minutes. The recorders inside are wrapped in a thin layer of aluminum and a layer of high-temperature insulation.

What happens to human body when plane crashes? ›

As the plane reaches terminal velocity, the body can no longer compensate for the sheer force inflicted upon it. Passengers may lose vision, then lose their sense of where they are and what's happening before finally slipping into unconsciousness.

Did Alaska Airlines Flight 261 fly upside down? ›

In the film, NTSB investigators determine the probable cause of this crash to be the fatigue of a jackscrew due to excess wear and poor maintenance. The final seconds of the CVR of Flight 261 indicate the plane stabilized and was flying inverted shortly before the crash, an event depicted in the film.

Can turbulence cause a plane to crash? ›

Can turbulence crash an airplane? NO. Although in its worst form, turbulence may scare passengers to the point where they start praying to the Almighty, asking for mercy for their sins, it's very, very rare for turbulence to be powerful enough to actually bring a plane down.

How do most plane crashes happen? ›

The most common reasons that planes crash include pilot error, mechanical failure, sabotage (or intentional crashes), errors with ATC or ground workers, and unknown reasons. Whether it's a small personal aircraft, a commercial/passenger jet, or a military aircraft, a plane crash is devastating.

Did Boeing pay families of crash victims? ›

The January 2021 agreement included a $500 million compensation fund for victims' relatives, $1.77 billion in compensation to the airlines and a $243 million criminal fine.

Are Airbus safer than Boeing? ›

According to, Airbus has suffered 86 total crashes or accidents between its models – fewer than just the 147 suffered by Boeing's 737 alone. However, the comparative length of service and greater number of Boeings in use should be considered as well in interpreting those numbers.

Is Boeing 737 MAX 8 safe now? ›

Is the Max airplane safe? It is, now. Boeing engineers have modified the MCAS, made it less obtrusive, and kept it under the pilots' control unlike earlier. Also, Aviation Regulators the world over, being 'once bitten twice shy', have mandated Ground Training and Simulator Training for the pilots.

Is the black box in an airplane indestructible? ›

7. They're virtually indestructible... FDRs are usually double-wrapped in titanium or stainless steel, and must be able to withstand atrocious conditions. The crucial part that contains the memory boards, the CSMU, is shot out of an air cannon to create an impact of 3,400 Gs and then smashed against a target.

Why are black boxes kept in water? ›

Question: Why, after a plane has crashed into the water, do investigators put the "black box" back in water? – Will Cowger, Houston. Answer: If a flight data recorder is recovered from the water, it is submerged in fresh, clean water to prevent deposits such as salt or minerals from drying out within the device.

Does a black box have a tracking device? ›

The locations of black boxes can be traced in the bottom of deep oceans thanks to a special tracking component. Every flight data recorder contains a tool called an underwater location beacon (ULB). This makes it possible for investigators to find it if a plane crashes into a body of water.


1. No word on survivors after plane carrying 132 crashes in China
(CBC News: The National)
2. China Eastern Airlines Boeing jet with 132 on board crashes in China • FRANCE 24 English
(FRANCE 24 English)
3. No Survivors Found In China Eastern Plane Crash, State Media Say
(News On 6/KOTV)
4. China Eastern confirms fatalities after plane crash, expresses 'deep condolences' • FRANCE 24
(FRANCE 24 English)
5. China Eastern plane crash: Villagers describe incident as recovery workers continue search
(Global News)
6. No survivors found in China Eastern plane crash | Morning in America

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