Sunday, August 19, 2007

China Airlines Boeing 737-800 bursts into flames at Naha, Okinawa

China Airlines B737-800 in flamesA Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated by Taiwan's national flag carrier, China Airlines, caught fire several hours ago at Naha, Okinawa. China Airlines Flight 120 had just arrived from Taipei with 157 passengers and 8 crew members on board, according to news reports. It is not yet clear exactly what caused the fire, but the aircraft was evacuated safely. In news photos of the accident scene, a deployed evacuation slide is visible at the 1R door.

Early reports in the press suggested that several people, including some crew members, might not have escaped from the burning plane, but later statements from the Japanese Transport Ministry and China Airlines said that all 157 passengers had disembarked safely.

The CTV News quoted local broadcast journalists and a fire official at Naha who said that the two pilots and six flight attendants all made it off the burning aircraft alive, but that at least two crew members had been hospitalized. The crew were not identified by name.

CTV also quoted a Japanese Transport Ministry official who explained that "the fire started when the first engine below the main left wing exploded a minute after the aircraft entered its parking spot." (Note: I suspect that "first engine" is probably a simple translation error, and should have been "the number one engine.")

An article about the plane fire at Naha in the Sydney Morning Herald shows a dramatic photo of flames and black smoke billowing from the aircraft. The SMH article also has a link to a brief video of the accident scene.

[Photo Source]