China Eastern Airlines plane crash that kills 132 caused by intentional act: US officials

BEIJING — The China Eastern Airlines plane crash that killed 132 people may have been caused by an intentional act, according to US officials who spoke to ABC News.

The Boeing 737-800 was flying from Kunming to Guangzhou on March 21 when it plunged into a mountainous region in Guangxi, China. All 123 passengers and nine crew members were killed.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the news.

Officials who spoke to ABC News said the plane’s flaps were not engaged and the landing gear was not retracted. The nearly vertical descent of the plane, they say, would have required intentional force.

The plane slammed into the ground with such force that it created a 66-foot-deep hole in the ground, Chinese officials said.

Investigators also reviewed the personal life and background of one of the pilots and believe he may have struggled to resolve some issues just before the crash, ABC News has learned.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said all information about the investigation would come from their counterparts at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, but regulators and Boeing did not report any mechanical issues. Sources said Chinese investigators also did not report any mechanical issues.

“The NTSB will not release any further updates on the CAAC investigation into the crash of China Eastern 5735,” the NTSB said in a statement. “When and if CAAC releases updates is entirely up to them. And I haven’t heard of any plans for them to do so.”

The first black box, the cockpit voice recorder, was found on March 23, while the flight data recorder was found on March 27.

Early data showed the airliner plunged from 29,000ft to 8,000ft, leveled off and then went into free fall. Video showed the plane plunging into the ground.

ABC News’ Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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