The Shanghai-bound China Eastern plane plunged into a frozen lake in Nanhai Park just minutes after leaving from Baotou city in the Inner Mongolia region on Sunday morning, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
“There were 47 passengers on board and six crew members and all died,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. Two people on the ground were also killed.
The plane was identifed as a Canadian-made Bombardier CRJ-200, a regional aircraft which normally has capacity to carry 50 passengers.
A reporter with Xinhua said that when he arrived at the crash site 30 minutes after the plane went down, a huge fire was visible on the surface of the lake.
The Xinhua news agency said witnesses reported seeing the plane break into flaming fragments. A house beside the park was damaged by the falling aircraft and several yachts nearby were scorched.
It quoted one witness as saying the plane was trailing black smoke when there was an explosion and the plane crashed and broke apart.
Firefighters were engaged in putting out the blaze, while others tried to salvage bodies from the wreckage.
An official with the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed the crash.
“The cause of the crash is still under investigation,” said an official with China Eastern’s office in Baotou.