Two American tourists and British familyÂ survived a horrific air crash in Burma on Tuesday when their packed plane cameÂ down in heavy fog and burst into flames.
The Air Bagan jet, carryingÂ 65 Christmas holidaymakers, from MandalayÂ crashed as it approached Heho airport in the east of Burma, gateway toÂ theÂ popular tourist destination Inle Lake.
Three Burmese were killed in the tragedy – aÂ tour guide and an 11-year-old child on board the plane, as well as a man ridingÂ a motorcycle on the road where it came down.
More than 50 of the 65 passengers were saidÂ to be non-Burmese.
An airport official said: ‘The aircraft wasÂ extensively damaged. People who got out can count themselves extremelyÂ fortunate.’
The airline described the incident as an ‘emergency landing’.
Fire was said to have broken out inÂ one ofÂ the plane’s engines and it reportedly struck part of a mountainÂ as itÂ approached Heho airport in fog. Authorities however gave aÂ different account,Â saying the pilot mistook the road for a runway due to bad weather.
‘While descending, the plane mistakenlyÂ landed due to fog,’ state television reported.
It said the aircraft made a hard landing on aÂ road and then came to a stop in a rice paddy field.
State television said the plane missed the runwayÂ because of fog
Rescuers managed to bring the fire underÂ control about 45 minutes later, he said.
Witnesses said smoke filled the planeÂ whenÂ it hit the groundÂ and was still rising from the aircraft’sÂ badly-charredÂ wreckage hours later.
Air Bagan is owned by Tay Za, a tycoon knownÂ for his close links to the former military junta. The airline had two Fokker 100Â jets, which are no longer manufactured. The injuredÂ passengers were taken toÂ hospital in the city of Taunggyi for treatmentÂ for broken bones, burns, cutsÂ and shock.
First pictures of the scene of theÂ crashÂ reveal how lucky anyone was to get out alive. The aircraft lay inÂ pieces in aÂ field with soldiers guarding the wreckage. An airline checkÂ of the passengersÂ revealed that one was missing.
A search of the wreckage revealed aÂ body,Â believed to be that of the 11-year-old child. Air Bagan is one ofÂ severalÂ domestic carriers seeking to profit from the tourist boom asÂ Burma emerges fromÂ military rule.
There has been an increase in tourismÂ in theÂ past 12 months as the ruling junta has relaxed itsÂ control and,Â for theÂ first time in decades, opened up the countryÂ to foreigners.
Source: The Daily Mail