Tibet Airlines: Chinese plane veers off runway and bursts into flames after aborted takeoff

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An Airbus A319 plane of China’s Tibet Airlines veered off the runway and burst into flames at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport on Thursday after an aborted takeoff due to an “abnormality”.

The aircraft had 113 passengers and nine crew members on board and was fet to fly from China’s Chongqing to Nyingchi in Tibet.

Thirty-six passengers were hospitalised with minor injuries and the aircraft was damaged by the fire, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport said the aircraft caught fire at 8.09am local time.

Videos on social media showed a fire on the left side of the aircraft and smoke plumes billowing into the sky as passengers and crew walked out.

Tibet Airlines said all passengers and crew were evacuated safely. “In the process of taking off, the flight crew discovered an abnormality with the aircraft and stopped the takeoff, after which the aircraft left the runway,” the statement said.

The pilots had aborted takeoff in line with procedures after experiencing an abnormality, leading to an engine scrape and fire after the plane veered off the runway, the CAAC said in a statement.

Rescue and investigation teams were rushed to the spot soon after, the airline regulator added.

Chongqing airport has closed the runway on which the incident occurred, while the remaining two runways are operating as usual, CAAC Southwest Regional Administration said.

The airport also cancelled 558 planes and diverted several flights to nearby airports such as Shuangliu in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The A319 plane was more than nine years old. It runs on CFM56 engines from CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran, according to Airfleets.net.

The incident comes barely two months after a Boeing 737 crashed on 21 March, killing all 132 people on board. The accident in which the aircraft suddenly nosedived and plummeted to the ground is still under investigation.

Additional reporting by agencies

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