All 165 passengers and crew on board a Xiamen Air flight from China have escaped serious injury after their plane crash-landed at Manila’s international airport during heavy rain.
Flight MF8667 was coming in to land shortly before midnight on Thursday (11.55pm local time) when it skidded off the runway at Ninoy Aquino International Airport and into a grassy area, bouncing heavily and damaging one of the two plane’s engines.
Flights from the Middle East and the United States were diverted to the international airport at Clark, north of the capital, and the central island of Cebu.
There were chaotic scenes inside the terminals, packed with passengers, with long queues outside and at check-in desks.
The airport’s general manager Ed Monreal said the plane “misapproached” on its first attempt to land and lost contact with the control tower on the second attempt and skidded upon touchdown.
“Our priority now is to reopen the airport runway immediately but we are not rushing because we value the safety and security of all the people,” he said.
Eric Apolonio, a spokesman for the Philippines Civil Aviation Authority, said the 157 passengers and eight crew were “drenched” after evacuating down the B737’s emergency slides.
He said they were all safe as they were transported to a terminal inside the airport where they were given blankets and food before being taken to a hotel.
“We have no reports yet of injuries but the passengers were all drenched,” Mr Apolonio said.
— Henry Yin Hang (@HenryYinCNA) August 16, 2018
He cited an initial report that the plane appeared to have “bounced” during the landing then its lights went out.
One of the plane’s two engines appeared to have been damaged, another airport official said.
Sources told The Strait Times the plane circled Manila for about 60 minutes and then missed the runway’s centre line when it landed, causing it to swerve towards a grass safety area.
Air traffic controllers reportedly made repeated calls to “Xiamen Air 8667” before directing the plane to land on runway 24.
The paper reported seeing some passengers standing barefoot as they waited for emergency crews to take them to the terminal.
Xiamen Airlines B737-800 (B-5498) received unknown damage when it overran runway 24 (lengh 3410 m) at Manila-Intl Airport (RPLL), Philippines. Darkness and rainy conditions prevailed at the time. Flight #MF8667 came from Xiamen. No injuries reported. https://t.co/n4slDQsNIp pic.twitter.com/snpPi9QENC
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) August 16, 2018
Airport officials said they were looking into numerous factors, including the weather, the technology and communications between the pilot and tower.
Mr Monreal said the airport was not able to extract the content of the flight recorder, which would be sent to Singapore for investigation.
The airport’s international runway was expected to be closed until about noon on Friday and airlines were notified of the closure, officials said.