Smoke Billows From Jetliner After Crash-Landing
DUBAI - An Emirates flight from India with 300 people on board, including 6 Americans, crash landed at Dubai's main airport on Wednesday, sending black smoke billowing into the air and halting all traffic at the Middle East's busiest airport. Authorities said all passengers were evacuated safely.
Dubai-based Emirates said the accident happened around 12:45 p.m. local time as Flight EK521 was arriving from the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram.
It confirmed there were no fatalities and said "all passengers and crew are accounted for and safe."
Firefighters soon managed to bring the fire under control, with Associated Press journalists at the airport reporting that the charred fuselage of the plane appeared to no longer be burning. The top of the aircraft was scorched brown from near the cockpit back to its tail. Several yellow fire trucks surrounded the plane.
Dubai resident Girisankal Gangadhakan said his wife called him after the plane landed to tell him that she and their three children onboard had been involved in an accident but were safe.
"I was shocked when I heard about that," he said.
The Boeing 777 was carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew members, according to the airline, which had earlier provided a lower figure.
Passengers said that minutes before the flight crash-landed, the pilot made an announcement that he needed to make an emergency landing.
Iype Vallikadan, a journalist from the Indian newspaper "Mathrubhumi News" which covers the region the plane departed from, reported the passengers said the pilot spoke to them as the plane neared Dubai on Wednesday, saying there was a problem with the landing gear and that he would make an emergency landing.
Passengers said the cabin crew opened all the emergency exits of the plane everyone on board the aircraft was evacuated within minutes of the landing.
The Dubai government's official media office separately said that all passengers were "evacuated safely and no injuries have been reported so far."
It said authorities were "dealing with the incident at the moment to ensure safety of all" and that all departures from the airport had been halted until further notice. Emirates predicted there would be a four-hour delay in operations across its network.
"Our main priority at this time is the safety and wellbeing of all involved and full co-operation is being extended to the authorities and emergency services managing the situation," the carrier said.
Video posted online showed black smoke billowing from what looked like an Emirates jetliner lying on its belly on the runway.
The Boeing 777 departed Thiruvananthapuram at 10:19 a.m. and was scheduled to land at 12:50 p.m. local time, according to Emirates.
Aviation expert and former commercial pilot Captain Mike Vivian told CBS News about weather conditions that could have affected the flight.
"Dust could or could not have played a part in visibility being reduced," he said.
Vivian explained that the incident appeared to be "consistent with [the aircraft] hitting the ground heavily," as opposed to encountering a problem mid-air.
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, a popular beachside tourist destination. Man blue-collar migrant workers employed in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf nations come from Kerala.
Officials from the airline and Dubai International Airport declined to immediately provide further details when reached by phone.
Dubai International is by far the Mideast's busiest airport, and is the world's busiest air hub in terms of international passenger traffic. Government-backed Emirates is the region's biggest carrier, and operates the world's largest airline fleet of the wide-body 777 long-haul aircraft.