China Airlines Jet Explodes Upon Landing in Okinawa

Monday, August 20, 2007

TOKYO —  A China Airlines jet exploded into flames at an airport in Okinawa after arriving from Taiwan on Monday, but all 165 people aboard escaped alive, officials said. Police said terrorism was not suspected.

All 157 passengers — including two small children— fled the Boeing 737 unhurt on inflated emergency slides just minutes before the plane burst into a fireball, Transport Ministry official Akihiko Tamura told reporters.

China Airlines spokesman Sun Hung-wen told reporters in Taipei the aircraft skidded on the tarmac on its way from the runway to the gate after landing, starting a fire that prompted the emergency exit. The eight-member crew also safely left the plane, Sun said.

“The fire started when the first engine below the main left wing exploded, a minute after the aircraft entered the parking spot,” Tamura said.

Accounts of injuries were unclear. Tamura said one crew member had been hurt, but local fire official Hiroki Shimabukuro said two passengers — a 7-year-old girl and a man in his 50s — had been hospitalized because they didn’t feel well, not because of specific injuries.

Tamura put the number of passengers at 157, updating the figure of 155 initially provided by China Airlines.  [ Full Story  ]

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