Pilots of the doomed China Eastern Flight 5735 failed to respond to multiple calls from Chinese air traffic controllers after falling into a deadly nosedive, authorities said at a news conference Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported.
Air traffic controllers received no response to their repeated calls, an official from China’s Civil Aviation Administration said at a news conference.
The plane disappeared from the radar screens at 2:23 p.m. local time, three minutes after it began a steep descent, the official, Zhu Tao, said at the end of the first full day of searching the wreckage.
Based on current information, Chinese officials are unable to make a clear judgment about the cause of Monday’s crash, Zhu said. The ongoing investigation will be difficult, he said, describing a devastating impact and hilly terrain in the search area.
The so-called black boxes — separate voice and data recorders that are orange in color — have not yet been found, state-backed Xinhua news agency reported. The team will continue to gather evidence to fully understand the cause, Zhu said.
Investigators are still sifting through evidence to understand why the Boeing 737-800 NG plane with 132 people on board crashed in southern China Monday.
It’s too early to make any clear statements about the cause, Chinese officials said, as the jet’s plunge from about 29,000 feet stuns aircrash specialists.
China Eastern has grounded its fleet of 737-800s and thousands of domestic flights were canceled across the country on Tuesday, even as Boeing offered to help with the investigation. Chinese officials ordered a two-week sweeping security review.
The jet shot into a hill near Wuzhou in the Guangxi region.
Witnesses said the plane broke up and emergency services found no survivors.
All 123 passengers and nine crew members are presumed dead, making it the first fatal crash of a commercial airliner in China since 2010 and the deadliest in nearly three decades.