- A Chinese passenger jet carrying 132 people crashes into a mountain.
- “Deeply saddened by tragic loss of lives in passenger plane crash,” PM says.
- China’s Xi calls for “all efforts” towards rescue; orders probe into incident.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said Monday Islamabad shares the grief with Beijing after a China Eastern passenger jet carrying 132 people crashed into a mountain in southern China.
The crash caused a large fire shortly after losing contact with air traffic control and dropping thousands of metres in under three minutes.
The Boeing 737-800 flight from the city of Kunming to the southern hub of Guangzhou “lost airborne contact over Wuzhou” in the Guangxi region on Monday afternoon, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
The jet was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members, according to aviation authorities.
“Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives in the passenger plane crash in China,” the prime minister said as the disaster prompted an unusually swift public reaction from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said he was “shocked” and ordered an immediate investigation into its cause.
“We share the grief of our Chinese brothers and sisters and convey our deepest condolences and sympathies with the bereaved families,” PM Imran Khan said.
China Eastern confirmed there had been deaths in the crash, without providing the number of those killed or giving details on whether there were any survivors.
“The company expresses its deep condolences for the passengers and crew members who died in the plane crash,” the airline said in a statement.
The cause of the crash is “still under investigation”, it added.
Hundreds of firefighters were dispatched to the scene in Teng county near the city of Wuzhou, state media reported, as nearby villagers rushed to help the rescue effort.
Xi called for “all efforts” towards the rescue and to find out the “cause of the accident as soon as possible”, according to CCTV.
“We are shocked to learn of the China Eastern MU5735 accident,” he said, calling for “the absolute safety of the sector and people´s lives”.
As dusk fell, there was still little information on the identity or condition of the passengers.
China had enjoyed an enviable air safety record in recent years as the country was crisscrossed by newly built airports and serviced by new airlines established to match breakneck growth over the last few decades.
A Henan Airlines flight crashed in northeastern Heilongjiang province in 2010, killing at least 42 out of 92 people on board, although the final toll was never confirmed. It was the last Chinese commercial passenger flight crash that caused civilian casualties.
The deadliest Chinese commercial flight crash was a China Northwest Airlines crash in 1994, which killed all 160 onboard.
— Additional input from AFP