Philippine airport closed after runway accident

Philippine aviation authorities shut down one of the country's busiest airports on Monday after a passenger jet overshot the runway when landing during a rainstorm, officials said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said Davao International Airport in the south of the country would be closed until Monday evening while authorities removed the Cebu Pacific Airbus A320 plane.

The jet, with 165 people aboard, "veered off to the right of the runway" shortly after landing on Sunday night from Manila, the company said.

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"All the passengers were safe," airline spokeswoman Candice Iyog told AFP. "We do not know exactly what caused the airplane to swerve, but we are cooperating with the accident investigators."

However Father Joel Tabora, president of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University, charged that Cebu Pacific had endangered its passengers, including Ateneo faculty and students, during the emergency because of alleged incompetence.

"The Cebu Pacific personnel failed to give humane assistance to passengers," Tabora said in a statement. "No instructions were given, no calming words were spoken."

In a notice to airlines, the civil aviation office said the airport would be closed until Monday evening, when ground crew would likely be able to pull the jet from the runway.

"The nose wheel of the aircraft collapsed, but its two landing gears appear to be in order with its left engine visibly damaged," it said.

It added that four of the passengers on board had been infants.

Cebu Pacific's Iyog said the airline had cancelled 20 flights for the day, while rival Philippine Airlines (PAL) had cancelled 11.

Hundreds of passengers were stuck at the airport as a result of the closure, forcing PAL to offer land transfers to another airport four hours away.

Davao International Airport is the main gateway to Mindanao, the country's main southern island.

It is designed to handle about two million passengers annually.


© 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jun 3, 2013