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Boeing passenger plane exits runway in Senegal injuring 11

Boeing passenger plane exits runway in Senegal injuring 11
Source: Video Screenshot

A Boeing passenger plane came off the runway during takeoff from Dakar international airport early Thursday, injuring 11 people and shutting the hub for hours, its operator said.

The Air Senegal flight was bound for the Malian capital Bamako and had 78 passengers on board, plus a crew of six including two pilots, airport management company LAS said in a statement.

Images taken during the night and published by local media and on social networks showed the aircraft in an overgrown area with first aiders surrounding an injured person.

Smoke and flames are also visible near the plane.

“Move forward, move forward please gentlemen,” a woman tells a group of passengers in video footage verified by AFP of the aftermath of the incident, urging those in earshot above the noise of the engines to make themselves scarce.

“It’s crazy what’s going on here,” says a voice in another video as fellow passengers cry out “Al hamdoulilah” (Lord be praised).

“A fire started up in one part of the plane which was then put out,” an airport official told AFP without giving more details.

The Boeing 737/300 had been chartered from privately owned Transair, LAS said.

The jet “came off the runway during its takeoff phase” around 1:00 am (0100 GMT), it said.

Eleven people were injured, four of them seriously. Six other passengers were taken for medical check-ups inside the airport.

“The plane, at the end of the runway, was not able to take off. The pilot chose to take it off the runway onto the land alongside,” said LAS director general Askan Demir.

“Personally I think he managed the situation well. The plane was not damaged too much.”

The transport ministry said in a separate statement that two pilots and four cabin crew were onboard.

It gave slightly different numbers saying there were 79 passengers and 10 injured, including a pilot.

Blaise Diagne airport at Diass, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Senegalese capital Dakar, reopened shortly after midday.

“We inform you that Blaise Diagne international airport has reopened,” said LAS, made up of Turkish group Limak, the publicly-owned airport operator AIBD and another Turkish entity, Summa.

“Airport operations have resumed as normal.”

The aircraft was “immobilised” away from the runway and an emergency plan triggered by airport authorities as soon as they were alerted, the group said.

“All the airport emergency services have been mobilised for the evacuation of passengers and their care, as per the plan,” LAS went on.

“The exact circumstances of the incident remain to be determined, but an investigation is already under way to establish the reasons” why the aircraft left the runway.

“Aviation specialists along with representatives of the airline concerned are on site to examine closely the airline log data and interview crew members,” LAS said.

The transport ministry said the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis had opened an inquiry to determine the cause of the accident.

It comes as Air Senegal faces criticism with passengers regularly complaining about delays to domestic and international flights.

US manufacturer Boeing is also mired in problems, including safety concerns after two 737 MAX crashes within five months and another scare involving an aircraft over Alaska in January.

Thursday’s incident came a day after a Boeing 767 Fedex cargo plane touched down at Istanbul airport despite its front landing failing to open, the US Federal Aviation administration said. No one was hurt.

Tuesday, an Air France 787-900 flying to Seattle from Paris was diverted to Canada after a burning smell was detected in the cabin.

State-owned Air Senegal began operating in May 2018 after emerging from the April 2016 collapse of Senegal Airlines.

The latter had itself replaced in 2009 Air Senegal International, in which Senegal and Morocco had stakes.

The launch of the carrier’s latest incarnation is part of a plan to turn Dakar into a regional air hub around the international airport, inaugurated in December 2017, and revamped provincial airports.

The Diagne airport is named for the first African lawmaker elected to the French parliament in 1872 until 1934.

It replaces the Leopold-Sedar-Senghor International Airport (AILSS) in the suburbs of the capital which has been converted into a military facility.

Transair, founded in 2010, is based at Blaise Diagne and serves a dozen destinations across West Africa.

About the author

AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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