Airport drama investigated
Ten in hospital after emergency landing at Dubai International
Aviation investigators are today probing an accident at Dubai International Airport that saw an Emirates flight burst into flames shortly after landing yesterday.
Three hundred passengers and crew were evacuated from Flight EK521 from India to Dubai after it landed in difficulty about 12.45pm. Passengers were taken into the terminal as crews battled the fire on the Boeing 777-300.
Emirates said “all passengers and crew are accounted for and safe”, however, Dubai Airports said that one of the firefighters died from injuries sustained tackling the fire.
Black smoke was sent billowing into the air and the wreckage blocking the runway halted all traffic. At least 54 Emirates flights were cancelled, diverted to nearby airports or told to turn around while in mid-air.
One eyewitness said EK521 appeared to have “belly landed”, meaning its wheels were not fully extended when it touched down, however this has not been confirmed by either Emirates or Dubai Airports, although the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) described the incident as an “emergency landing”.
After it came to a standstill, flames appeared to burst from the upper section of the aircraft, images and video circulated online showed.
After the fire was out, scorched sections of fuselage could be seen from cockpit to tail.
Among the anxious family members was Dubai resident Girisankal Gangadhakan. He said his wife called him after the plane from Thiruvananthapuram landed to tell him that she and their three children were safe, but that there had been an accident.
“I was shocked when I heard about that,” he told the Associated Press.
Dubai’s Rashid Hospital mobilised a large trau- ma team but the centre’s Dr Jamal Al Hosani said they treated only minor injuries.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, delivered a video message yesterday afternoon. He said: “Thankfully there were no fatalities among our passengers and crew. Our first priority in this case will be for our passengers and crew, and answering queries from all the families.”
At a press conference last night, he added that 10 people were still being treated in hospital.
Separately, Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the aviation authority, said: “The GCAA has mobilised the investigation team who is working along with Emirates Airlines and the Dubai airport authorities.”
Last night, authorities said Dubai Airport had reopened and that flights would begin resuming as of 6.30pm.
Aviation expert Mikael Robertsson, founder of flightradar24.com, said: “A flight takes off or lands every 90 seconds from Dubai International Airport, so the effect will have been very big.”
SAFE: A family thought to have been onboard is shown to a taxi, according to Associated Press
HARD LANDING: Footage posted online by Edmund Basil shows the plane in difficulty