Airliner crash kills 11 in Myanmar
‘I saw the flames ... we didn’t have much time’
YANGON, Myanmar • Survivors of a deadly Christmas Day crash-landing of an airliner in Myanmar told terrifying tales of escape Wednesday as carrier Air Bagan apologized for what it called the worst accident since it started flying in 2004.
Details of the crash remain unclear but airline officials told a news conference Wednesday that they found the plane’s two black boxes and were investigating what went wrong. So far, officials have blamed heavy fog for the aircraft’s crash into a rice paddy field where it burst into flames. Two died and 11 were injured, including four foreigners.
The Fokker 100 jet was 21 years old but passed inspections at annual renewals of its air worthiness certificate, the officials said. On Tuesday, it was carrying 71 people, including 48 foreigners, from the city of Yangon via Mandalay to Heho airport, which is the gateway to the popular tourist destination Inle Lake.
“We felt the first bump, then a few big bumps and then (started) sliding very fast,” said 31-year-old Australian advertising executive Anna Bartsch. Her boyfriend, Stuart Benson, described the landing like “a roller coaster” ride.
The plane came to a stop and they felt relief — then panic.
“In my window I saw the flames, and it was hot and we knew straight away we didn’t have much time to get out,” Bartsch said in an interview at a Yangon hotel where the airline lodged passengers after evacuating them from the scene.
Passengers rushed up the aisle to the front door, which was initially stuck shut, she said.
“We didn’t know then that the wings had come off,” Bartsch said. The door was quickly forced open and passengers raced from the plane, some in shock and some suffering smoke inhalation, she said.
All of the dead were Myanmar citizens.