Firefighters check a plane which caught fire after veering off in China’s Chongqing on Thursday. AFP
A Chinese passenger jet veered off the runway during takeoff and caught fire on Thursday, sending black smoke billowing into the air and injuring more than 30 people.
The Tibet airlines flight with 122 people on board was departing from the southwestern city of Chongqing for a flight to Nyingchi in China’s Tibet region.
Videos shared by state media showed the left side of the aircraft on fire as people who appeared to be passengers headed away from the scene. Other footage showed fire trucks spraying water on the plane. The accident happened at 8:09am (0009 GMT), Tibet airlines said.
The Airbus A319-115 jet had 113 passengers and nine flight crew on board, all of whom were evacuated. During the evacuation, 36 people were injured with sprains or scrapes, according to the southwest regional branch of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
“In the process of taking off, the flight crew discovered an abnormality with the aircraft and stopped the takeoff according to the procedures. The aircraft left the runway and caught fire after the engine hit the ground. Currently the fire has been put out,” the aviation authorities said in a statement.
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The flight, carrying 113 passengers and nine crew, was headed from the southwestern city of Chongqing to Tibet’s Nyingchi when “abnormalities” were noticed and take-off was suspended, causing the jet to overrun the runway, the company said in a statement.
The plane itself had fire damage, it said.
The damaged plane after catching fire in Chongqing Jiangbei Airport, China, on Thursday. AP
“In the process of taking off, the flight crew discovered an abnormality with the aircraft and stopped the takeoff, after which the aircraft left the runway,” the statement said.
Images shared by Chinese state media showed flames engulfing the side of the stricken jet as terrified passengers ran from the scene.
Photos of the aftermath showed scorch marks covering the nose and one wing of the jet, which had been doused in water to control the blaze.
“All passengers and crew have been safely evacuated,” Tibet Airlines said in a statement.
The incident follows the crash of a Chinese Eastern Boeing 737-800 in southeastern China on March 21 in which all 132 people on board were killed. That accident, in which the plane went into a sudden nosedive and slammed into the ground in a mountainous area, remains under investigation.