All 132 passengers and crew on board an China Eastern Airlines flight were feared dead on Monday after the plane crashed into a mountain in southern China.
There had no official confirmation of any casualties seven hours after the crash raising concern that the chance of finding survivors was low.
Rescue operations were under way after the Boeing 737-800 went down near Wuzhou in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, state broadcaster CCTV reported, adding that 588 firefighters were being sent to the scene to help local emergency services.
A local villager at the scene of the crash told online portal Jimu News that the plane has disintegrated and started a fire that had burned down trees and bamboo before local firefighters extinguished most of the blaze.
State media said the flight was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members.
According to news portal Thepaper.cn, a staff member at Guangzhouâ€™s Baiyun International Airport said flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou has not arrived at its destined time.
The flight was scheduled to take off from Kunming at 1.10pm and arrive at Guangzhou at 2.52 pm and is now marked â€œout of reachâ€ on Baiyun airportâ€™s app.
Following the accident videos and pictures purporting to come from the scene started circulating on social media showing smoke billowing from a hillside and wreckage on the ground.
The weather at the site was overcast, with periodic heavy rain forecast.
CCTV reported that safety checks will be conducted in the aviation sector while President Xi Jinping has activated an emergency mechanism to help the rescue efforts. The state council has also sent officials to the site to investigate.
The 737-800 model that crashed on Monday has a good safety record and is the predecessor of the 737 MAX model that has been grounded in China for more than three years after fatal crashes in Indonesia in 2918 and Ethiopia in 2019.
Chinaâ€™s worst ever domestic air disaster happened in 1994, according to the Aviation Safety Network, when a China Northwest Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 flying from Xian to Guangzhou crashed after takeoff, killing all 160 people on board.
The last domestic crash was in 2010, when a plane crashed in Yichun in Heilongjiang province, killing 42.
Chinaâ€™s airlines had recorded over 100 million continuous hours of safe flight as of February 19, according to Zhu Tao, an official with the Civil Aviation Administration.