An Emirates jetliner arriving from India caught fire after slumping onto the runway in Dubai on Wednesday, killing one firefighter in an intense blaze and bringing the world’s busiest international airport to a halt for several hours.
All 300 passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the gutted Boeing 777-300 after a crash that one survivor described as terrifying. Fourteen people were admitted to hospital.
The Dubai carrier’s first significant accident happened after the crew apparently attempted to abort the landing for a second attempt amid unconfirmed witness reports of landing gear problems.
Video showed a tower of flame bursting from the front of the plane, and then a thick black plume of smoke rising into the sky. Reuters was unable to verify the footage independently.
Photographs on social media showed a plane lying crumpled on the tarmac with black smoke pouring from its upper section, and later images showed a gap along the length of the charred fuselage where its roof had been.
“It was actually really terrifying. As we were landing there was smoke coming out in the cabin,” said passenger Sharon Maryam Sharji. “People were screaming and we had a very hard landing. We left by going down the emergency slides and as we were leaving on the runway we could see the whole plane catch fire. It was horrifying.”
Another passenger leaving the airport with his family said there had been a problem with the landing gear.
A spokesman for operator Dubai Airports said everyone aboard flight EK521 coming from Thiruvananthapuram in southern India had been evacuated.