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Air China fire likely caused by engine failure

By Wang Xiaoyu | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-12 09:15

Air China said early Monday that a mechanical engine failure likely caused a fire on one of its passenger flights to Singapore a day earlier, and all 155 people onboard had been safely evacuated.

The flight left Chengdu Tianfu International Airport for Singapore at 11:30 am on Sunday. It reported smoke in its front cargo hold and lavatory around 3:59 pm and requested priority landing at Singapore's Changi Airport.

It successfully landed around 4:15 pm and deployed emergency slides for passengers to evacuate. At 4:25 pm, the fire in its left engine was put out.

Air China said on Monday that a preliminary investigation shows that the incident was caused by an engine failure and a further probe is underway.

It added that proper handling of the incident led by the nine crew members on board and the cooperation of the 146 passengers had made it possible to complete the evacuation successfully.

Changi Airport said late Sunday that nine passengers sustained minor injuries due to smoke inhalation or abrasions during evacuation and had received treatment.

A Chinese student on board, surnamed Cai, said during an interview with Jimu News that she and other passengers began noticing smoke rising in the cabin around 10 to 20 minutes before landing.

"It was pretty scary. I covered my mouth and nose with one hand and wrote a farewell letter on my mobile phone with the other hand," she said. "I was not sure if the message could be sent out, but I figured I would write it down anyway."

She added that crew members began handing passengers wet wipes as the smoke turned thicker and visibility in the cabin became worse.

"The flight attendants kept reassuring us that they were well-trained and professional and told us to lower our heads during landing," she said, adding that the landing was no different from a normal one.

Another passenger on board said during an interview with Chengdu.cn, a news website based in Chengdu, that although the flight attendants sounded slightly nervous when making cabin announcements, they had fulfilled their duties and the passengers on board had been very cooperative and did not panic.

According to flight tracking software Umetrip, the plane was an Airbus A320Neo that is more than four years old. It can seat up to 158 passengers.

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