Ottawa Citizen

Air­liner crash kills 11 in Myan­mar

‘I saw the flames ... we didn’t have much time’

- YADANA HTUN

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.

 ?? THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS ?? An Air Ba­gan flight packed with Christ­mas tourists crash-landed in Heho in cen­tral Myan­mar Tues­day. The wings came off and the plane burst into flames.
THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS An Air Ba­gan flight packed with Christ­mas tourists crash-landed in Heho in cen­tral Myan­mar Tues­day. The wings came off and the plane burst into flames.

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