x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hole in fuselage forces Qantas plane to land

A plane en route to Australia from London makes an emergency stop in Manila after a loud bang punched a hole in it.

The Qantas pilot Capt John Francis Bartels, right, looks at the hole of the Melbourne-bound Boeing 747 after it made an emergency landing at the international airport in Manila.
The Qantas pilot Capt John Francis Bartels, right, looks at the hole of the Melbourne-bound Boeing 747 after it made an emergency landing at the international airport in Manila.

MANILA // A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila today after a loud bang punched a hole in the Boeing 747-400's fuselage, officials and passengers said. There were no injuries, but some of the 350 passengers vomited after disembarking, said Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations, Octavio Lina. In a statement from Sydney, Qantas confirmed the hole in its fuselage and said it was being inspected by engineers.

Mr Lina said the cabin's floor gave way, exposing some of the cargo beneath and part of the ceiling collapsed. "There is a big hole on the right side near the wing," he said, adding it was about 3 metres in diameter. Passengers who talked to the media at the airport described hearing an explosion and then oxygen masks were released. "One hour into the flight there was a big bang then the plane started going down," said passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Manila airport. "There was wind swirling around the plane and some condensation."

She said the hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger cabin. "The plane kept going down not too fast, but it was descending," Ms Scaffidi said, adding the plane was over the South China Sea when the staff informed passengers they were diverting to Manila. "No one was very hysterical," she said. The passengers will be given hotel accommodation while the aircraft is being repaired, said Alfonso Cusi, the airport's general manager.

*AP