Crash-landing 'a very scary moment'

2012-12-26 14:50

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Heho - Survivors of a crash-landing in Myanmar on Christmas Day recounted on Wednesday fleeing the burning plane as smoke filled the cabin after the ageing airliner came down in a field short of the runway.

There was no warning from the pilots or cabin crew that anything was wrong as the Fokker 100 jet descended in thick fog towards Heho airport in eastern Shan state, according to passengers on board.

"When I looked out, I saw all of a sudden there was no runway. Then there was an impact," said David Antoni, 27, from Germany.

"It came to a stop and within two minutes we all just got on our knees because there was a lot of smoke coming through the airplane... This was a very scary moment," he told AFP while recovering at a nearby hotel.

"Some people jumped through the fire (to get) out because they couldn't go through the front due to too much smoke," he said.

"This is a once-in-a-million chance I guess to crash-land, lucky to survive."

'Rough roller coaster'

Anna Bartsch, a 31-year-old Australian on board who had planned to visit nearby Inle Lake and its vineyards with her partner for Christmas, described the landing as "like a rough roller-coaster".

"It got very hot and we knew to get out of the plane very quickly. We knew that the back was burning," she said in Yangon after returning on a special flight organised by Air Bagan.

"It turns out that the wings had come off but we didn't know that yet... I was thinking the fuel would explode there at any minute. So that was the scary part of the thing," added Bartsch, who escaped without serious injury.

Seventy of the 71 people on board miraculously survived the accident, while one Burmese tour guide on board was killed along with a motorcyclist on the ground.

Air Bagan described the incident as an "emergency landing" and officials said it was too soon to pinpoint the cause.

Duong Bich Hanh, 38, from Vietnam was also on board the plane along with her family.

Questions about safety

"We were informed that the plane will be landing soon... then a few huge bumps... then I woke up... I grabbed my son. We rushed out of the airplane. We got out and on the way we looked back to see the airplane on fire".

"We were not aware that the plane was on fire. We thought that it was just a type of very bumpy landing," Hanh said.

The incident raised fresh questions about the safety standards of Myanmar's fast-growing but stretched aviation industry as foreign visitors flock to the country as it emerges from decades of junta rule.

But Hanh said she was not put off returning.

"Plane crashes happen anywhere. It's not just Myanmar that has crashes. We hope to come back sometime."

Read more on:    myanmar  |  air travel  |  air crashes
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