Chinese plane slides off Manila airport runway in heavy rain

A Chinese passenger jet slid off the runway as it landed at Manila airport in torrential rain, authorities said Friday, with all 165 people on board safely evacuated.

The aircraft, carrying 157 passengers and eight crew, landed on its second attempt before skidding onto the grass, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesman Eric Apolonio told AFP.

It had flown to the Philippine capital from Xiamen in southeast China.

"Everyone is safe but they had to use the emergency chute because it was muddy," he said, adding the incident occurred in heavy rain.

The Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737 was still resting on its belly near the end of the airport's main runway early Friday, hours after the accident which occurred late on Thursday evening.

Its wings and engines were heavily damaged in the incident, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, which also said the plane circled the airport for an hour before attempting to land.

The incident forced a partial shutdown of the Philippines' main airport.

Aviation authorities closed the airport's main runway until 4:00pm (0800 GMT), forcing some airlines to cancel, delay or reroute flights.

Apolonio said the runway for smaller aircraft remained open, adding the accident has delayed thousands of passengers, including holidaymakers travelling ahead of a long weekend.

An investigation is under way, he said.