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December 10, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Cabin smoke forces plane's evacuation

SIX passengers and two crew members were injured during an evacuation after thick smoke appeared in the cabin of a Cathay Pacific Airway's jumbo jet at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport yesterday morning as it taxied for takeoff to Hong Kong.

All 351 passengers and 19 crew members onboard the Boeing 747 were evacuated safely about 10:40am via emergency slide, except the eight who were sent to hospitals, the East China Regional Administration under the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its website.

Four fire trucks were sent to the scene but no blaze was found on the plane, passengers said. The administration and the airline said they were investigating the cause of the smoke. A report from the Xinhua news agency cited an equipment problem.

The injured, including an 82-year-old man suffering a fractured left ankle, were sent to the Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Hospital. Five victims had slight soft tissue injures and bruises and had left the hospital by 4pm, a hospital doctor said. One patient remained in the hospital for observation and was in stable condition. The other two, both suffering leg fractures, including the 82-year-old, were later transferred to the No.6 People's Hospital and Ruijin Hospital for further treatment.

"I was bumped by another passenger while sliding down from the plane. The passengers were anxious so we pushed with each other," said one victim surnamed Hua.

"The victims were injured while escaping from the slide of the plane and none of them suffered from burns," a doctor said.

Senior Cathay Pacific officials apologized to passengers in a press conference in Hong Kong. The airline agreed to fly the remaining passengers to their destination on other flights and promised to meet other requests from the passengers.

The plane, Flight CX365, was due to take off at 9:45am and arrive in Hong Kong at 12:25pm, but as it was taxiing, thick smoke suddenly appeared in the cabin along with an overwhelming smell, passengers said.

"Passengers began unlocking safety belts, standing up and asking to get out after some shouted 'fire' and choking smoke filled the cabin immediately," said a passenger surnamed Wang.

The crew members asked the passengers to wait in their seats and calm down but the strong smoke made some people unable to open eyes, Wang said.

The airline said the captain quickly ordered the evacuation once he established there was smoke in the cabin.

"The crew members asked us not to take luggage while evacuating, and many passengers were too hurried to take their coats, so many of us felt freezing cold when waiting on the runway," said Huang Huang, an interior designer who was on the plane.

The airport sent two shuttle buses to take passengers to the airport terminal.

The airport police checked with passengers who had sat between rows 30 and 33, where passengers said the smoke initially came out, to see if any were carrying flammable materials, said a passenger surnamed Xu.

Airport police declined to give any details about their probe.

The airport closed the runway, delaying 105 flights. The runway was reopened at 2:40pm and flight schedules returned largely to normal, the airports authority reported.


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