A Tibet Airlines plane burst into flames after it skidded on the runway during takeoff at China's Chongqing Airport on Thursday morning. The airline's crew and passengers have been safely evacuated but firefighters are still struggling to douse the massive fire. Tibet Airlines confirmed the fire in a statement but didn't give any further details.
Video footage on social media shows the aircraft in flames on the runway. Airport authorities can be seen rushing to help the pilots. The Chinese government is yet to comment on the incident. The incident comes less than two months after a tragic jet crash that prompted China's aviation regulator to initiate a safety campaign.
The Tibet Airlines plane was about to depart from China's Chongqing Airport to Nyingchi in Tibet around 8 am on Thursday when some malfunction caused the plane to skid off and catch fire.
People rushed in panic as the plane burst into flames within seconds. According to reports, the plane had reached the end runway and was just seconds away from takeoff, when the front wheels skidded and the plane lost control putting the lives of all 113 passengers and crew on board at risk.
However, all 113 passengers and the crew have been evacuated by the rescue team. No injuries have been reported.
The front section of the Airbus SE A319 aircraft was completely engulfed in flames and heavy black smoke. Video footages on social media show passengers fleeing out from the flaming jet on the tarmac clutching luggage and other stuff.
One video on social media shows the plane up in flames with airport authorities and passengers watching it from a distance. Luckily, airport authorities took control of the situation within seconds of the accident and managed to save the lives of all the passengers and crew on board.
Some passengers suffered minor injuries and were sent to hospital, authorities said in a social media post.
The aircraft in question is a nine-year-old A319, one of the A320 family's smallest models. According to Airfleets.net, it is powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric (GE.N) and Safran (SAF.PA).
Tibet Airlines is a Lhasa-based regional airline. According to Airfleets.net, it has a fleet of 39 planes, including 28 A319s.
A China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) Boeing 737-800 carrying 132 people crashed in the mountains of southern China on March 21, killing everyone on board. There have been little leads as to what caused the catastrophe thus far.