Cathay Pacific Plane Makes Emergency Landing, Eight Injured
"It was an amazing piece of piloting in extremely testing circumstances," the South China Morning Post quoted a colleague of the pilots as saying.
"One engine was shut down completely and the other was going on and off. They effectively landed the plane on half an engine."
The airline told the AAP that the jet, an Airbus A330 flying from Surabaya in Indonesia, was forced to perform an emergency landing at Hong Kong International Airport. The aircraft's left engine had died during its approach and the right engine has been reported as suffering power surges, although Cathay Pacific described the engine as "functioning."
As the plane touched down, six tires failed to work, sparking a small fire at the undercarriage near one of the wheels. Eight people were injured and taken to the hospital, although it is unclear whether they suffered their injuries during landing or evacuation. All 322 people on board, including 13 crewmembers, evacuated the plane via emergency slides.
According to Hong Kong's Standard Newspaper, four of the injured passengers have been discharged after being treated for minor injuries to their heads and limbs. One woman remains in serious condition.
Li Leung-ming, commander of the Fire Service Department's air division, described the evacuation of passengers as "smooth." However, a 20-year-old passenger from Surabaya told the Standard the landing was calm, but chaos broke loose "when the captain told us there was an emergency and all passengers had to leave the plane immediately.
"Suddenly, the cabin became pretty chaotic. Many people rushed to the doors, screaming and crying. My brain was totally empty at that moment. I was pushed forward by those behind me.
"We could see fire burning in the rear from the windows. Everyone wanted to be the first to leave the plane. No one cared to follow the crew's guidance."
Another woman recalled that "the lights in the cabin were twinkling when the plane was landing" and later "the smell of scorched rubber was everywhere in the air."
Cathay Pacific chief executive told the Standard the plane's tires are designed to deflate during an emergency landing to prevent breaking. He also said the aircraft underwent regular inspections since beginning service in 1998.
Seven Network, an Australian television network, reported the plane may have been disabled through fuel contamination before takeoff in Indonesia.
"We want to find out the cause of the incident to prevent a recurrence," said Director General of Civil Aviation Normal Lo Shung-man to the Standard. The department is investigating the incident and plans to release a preliminary report in a month.
After the emergency landing, the airport's north runway was closed for over two hours, causing the delay of over 100 flights.