Emirates plane crash-lands at Dubai airport
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Hundreds of passengers had a miraculous escape after an Emirates flight en route from southern India burst into flames after skidding as it landed at Dubai International Airport Wednesday.
Dramatic images showed fire then thick black smoke billowing from the stricken Boeing 777 shortly after it came to a standstill.
There were no fatalities among the 282 passengers and 18 crew members on board, Emirates said.
“Emirates can confirm that today, 3 August 2016, flight EK521 traveling from Trivandrum International Airport in Thiruvananthapuram, India to Dubai has been involved in an accident at Dubai International Airport,” the airline said in a statement. The majority of those on board were Indian nationals, it added.
The aircraft left Trivandrum International Airport at 10:19 a.m. and was scheduled to land at 12:50 p.m. in Dubai.
Once emergency response teams managed to extinguish the fire it was clear how deadly this accident could have been: the entire top half of the aircraft’s fuselage was missing, with the belly of the plane slumped on the tarmac.
While the cause of the accident is not yet clear, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said images of the airliner could indicate that the front landing gear collapsed and that the plane slid. That would possibly lead to a fire, he said.
Emirates, which began operations in 1985, has never had a fatal accident with any of its aircraft.
“Airlines plan for this sort of thing. They have emergency plans in place. The idea is that you have to be able to evacuate an aircraft within 90 seconds if there is an accident on the ground,” said Quest. “And this clearly appears to be what has happened.”
Boeing, meanwhile, released a statement saying it was aware of the Emirates Airline Flight EK521 accident in Dubai. “We are thankful all aboard were evacuated safely. A Boeing technical team is standing by to launch in support of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board,” it said.
Meanwhile, all flights departing from Dubai have been delayed until 5 p.m. local time and all incoming flights are being diverted to other airports, the Dubai government media office tweeted on its official account.
Emirates said it expected an 8-hour network-wide delay in its operations.
According to Quest, Dubai-based Emirates is the largest airline in the world by available seat kilometers (ASK) — the measure of an airline’s passenger carrying capacity — which multiplies seats available by distance flown.
Dubai (DXB) is currently the busiest international airport for international passengers.