9 injured in smoke alert aboard HK flight

Updated: 2011-12-10 09:27

(China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - Seven passengers and two crew members were injured when a Cathay Pacific Airways plane was evacuated after smoke was seen in the cabin on Friday morning.

One passenger was reportedly seriously injured.

The two crew members, who suffered minor injuries, are Hong Kong citizens. They were to return to the special administrative region on Friday night.

The incident took place at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The airport control tower received a fire alarm at about 10:40 am. Smoke was detected coming from a lavatory on the plane. The jet was immediately evacuated, according to Lu Feng, a spokesman for the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.

Police inspected the cabin, but found no smoke. Six injured passengers were sent to Shanghai Pudong People's Hospital, said Lu.

The flight CX365 was due to take off for Hong Kong, said a statement released by Cathay Pacific Airways. "We can confirm that all 351 passengers and 19 crew have exited the Boeing 747 aircraft."

A preliminary investigation found that the smoke had been caused by an equipment failure, according to Xinhua, quoting an official with the airport's frontier inspection department.

The Cathay Pacific aircraft has been in service for more than 19 years.

The airline is investigating the incident and will later release details.

Huang Huang, a passenger on board the plane, told China Daily that he saw thick smoke and detected an acrid smell just as the plane was taxiing for takeoff.

"The plane was late and when it started to taxi along the runway, I saw some smoke in the forecabin. It smelled like burning plastic bags. Some passengers near the smoke began to shout and got out of their seats.

"We were nervous. A middle-aged woman even passed out. Then the plane stopped and all emergency exits were opened. One by one, we started to jump out. The whole process was very fast, and lasted about 10 minutes," Huang said.

Some passengers were injured on the chutes from the emergency exits. Ambulances arrived within minutes.

Huang said the evacuation chute was very steep and passengers were in a panic, pushing people in front of them.

"I was pushed by someone to the chute and knocked into the stewardess that was helping us on the ground," Huang said.

The passengers were taken to a room in the airport to await a new aircraft.

"The problem is that even when we changed our flights, all the luggage was still in the plane. The police officers were checking the luggage and we couldn't get it in a such short time," said Huang.

According to Huang, Cathay promised to arrange flights before Friday night. Passengers' luggage would be forwarded within two days. Huang was expected to arrive in Hong Kong on Friday night.

A team of Cathay employees flew from Hong Kong to Pudong airport to assist passengers and cabin crew.

Cathay said it is trying to make arrangements to fly the remaining passengers to their destinations, including deploying larger planes and offering additional seats.

According to a doctor at Pudong New Area People's Hospital, all of the people with minor injuries have been discharged.

The seriously injured passenger has been transferred to another hospital.

China Daily