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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Flight delays at Manila airport after plane skids off runway

All 165 people aboard Chinese passenger plane safe after landing during heavy rain

A Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 kidded off the runway while landing in Manila on August 16, 2018. AP Photo
A Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 kidded off the runway while landing in Manila on August 16, 2018. AP Photo

Flights from Manila airport were disrupted on Friday after a Chinese passenger jet skidded off the runway while landing in torrential rain. All 165 people on board were safely evacuated.

Philippine aviation authorities closed the airport's main runway until 4pm, forcing some airlines to cancel, delay or reroute flights. However, normal operations at the airport only resumed by noon on Saturday after a delay in moving the Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 jet.

Officials said the operation was complicated by heavy rains that softened the ground, making it difficult to install the two cranes needed to lift the aircraft.

The Xiamen Air flight carrying 157 passengers and eight crew landed on its second attempt before skidding on to the grass and ripping off its left engine late on Thursday evening.

Four people suffered "superficial scratches" as they evacuated the plane, which had flown to the Philippine capital from Xiamen in south-east China, airport general manager Ed Monreal said.

"With God's blessings all passengers were able to evacuate safely," Mr Monreal said, adding that the cause of the incident was under investigation.

One engine sheared off when the Xiamen Air plane skidded off the runway at Manila airport. AFP
One engine sheared off when the Xiamen Air plane skidded off the runway at Manila airport. AFP

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesman Eric Apolonio said the incident occurred in heavy rain and passengers and crew used an emergency chute to leave the aircraft.

Local television network ABS-CBN later aired photos of a group it said were passengers from the flight wrapped in blankets as they lined up inside the passenger terminal.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported the plane circled the airport for an hour before attempting to land.

The aircraft is still resting on its belly near the end of the airport's main runway where it came to a stop after the accident.

The authorities lifted part of the body off the ground on Friday morning to recover its cargo as well as its flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, both vital to determining the cause of the accident.

"The Manila tower told us that the aircraft tried to land once, aborted, then circled back. After landing the tower lost contact with it," civil aviation chief Jim Sydiongco said.

A runway for smaller aircraft was kept open, but the authorities said the accident delayed thousands of passengers, including holidaymakers travelling ahead of a long weekend.

Stranded passengers wait at Manila airport after a flights were disrupted on August 17, 2018. Reuters
Stranded passengers wait at Manila airport after a flights were disrupted on August 17, 2018. Reuters
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