Two American tourists and British family  survived a horrific air crash in Burma on Tuesday when their packed plane came  down in heavy fog and burst into flames.

The Air Bagan jet, carrying  65 Christmas holidaymakers, from Mandalay  crashed as it approached Heho airport in the east of Burma, gateway to  the  popular tourist destination Inle Lake.

Three Burmese were killed in the tragedy – a  tour guide and an 11-year-old child on board the plane, as well as a man riding  a motorcycle on the road where it came down.

More than 50 of the 65 passengers were said  to be non-Burmese.

An airport official said: ‘The aircraft was  extensively damaged. People who got out can count themselves extremely  fortunate.’

A local tour guide waiting at the airport for  passengers said the fire had ‘burned almost the whole plane’.

The airline described the incident as an ‘emergency landing’.

Fire was said to have broken out in  one of  the plane’s engines and it reportedly struck part of a mountain  as it  approached Heho airport in fog. Authorities however gave a  different account,  saying the pilot mistook the road for a runway due to bad weather.

‘While descending, the plane mistakenly  landed due to fog,’ state television reported.

It said the aircraft made a hard landing on a  road and then came to a stop in a rice paddy field.

‘The rear end of the plane broke and  caught  fire,’ state TV said, carrying a statement posted on deputy  information  minister Ye Htut’s Facebook page.

State television said the plane missed the runway  because of fog

Rescuers managed to bring the fire under  control about 45 minutes later, he said.

Witnesses said smoke filled the plane  when  it hit the ground  and was still rising from the aircraft’s  badly-charred  wreckage hours later.

One of the two pilots of the jet  operated by  the private airline was among the injured, according to  initial reports. The  British family was said to be being helped by UK  consular officials.

Air Bagan is owned by Tay Za, a tycoon known  for his close links to the former military junta. The airline had two Fokker 100  jets, which are no longer manufactured. The injured  passengers were taken to  hospital in the city of Taunggyi for treatment  for broken bones, burns, cuts  and shock.

First pictures of the scene of the  crash  reveal how lucky anyone was to get out alive. The aircraft lay in  pieces in a  field with soldiers guarding the wreckage. An airline check  of the passengers  revealed that one was missing.

A search of the wreckage revealed a  body,  believed to be that of the 11-year-old child. Air Bagan is one of  several  domestic carriers seeking to profit from the tourist boom as  Burma emerges from  military rule.

There has been an increase in tourism  in the  past 12 months as the ruling junta has relaxed its  control and,  for the  first time in decades, opened up the country  to foreigners.

Source: The Daily Mail


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