A Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 people aboard made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur on Monday in another blow to the flag-carrier's safety image after the loss of flight MH370.
Flight MH192, bound for the southern Indian city of Bangalore, turned back to Kuala Lumpur shortly after it was discovered that a tyre had burst on take-off, the airline said.
"As safety is of utmost priority to Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft was required to turn back to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)," the airline said in a statement.
The plane carrying 159 passengers and seven crew members circled for hours to burn up fuel and minimize risk of fire when landing.
Some passengers cried while others prayed as the plane circled off the Malaysian coast.
The plane landed safely early Monday morning and took off again more than 12 hours later.
Relieved passengers hugged their relatives when they arrived late Monday at the Bangalore airport.
"I just want to forget what happened. Now that we've landed safely, I don't want to think back," said Tejaswi, a housewife who uses just one name.
Usha Devi, a 75-year-old woman wearing a green saree, broke down in tears as she spoke to reporters at the airport.
"I am really thankful to the almighty that he saved our lives," Devi said.
A teenager who gave his name as Tambe said it had been tense time aboard the aircraft.
"The crew and the pilot really held their nerve. We were all pretty scared but the pilot assured us that everything would be alright," he said.
Malaysia Airlines is still reeling from the loss and presumed crash of MH370, which disappeared on March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The plane is now believed to have crashed into the remote Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard after inexplicably diverting from its route.
- Landed safely -
In the latest event, the plane landed without incident at Kuala Lumpur at 1:56 am (1756 GMT), nearly four hours after take-off.
Malaysia Airlines said tyre debris discovered on the runway prompted the decision to bring the Boeing 737-800 aircraft back to Kuala Lumpur.
"They have landed safely -- thank God," tweeted Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein after the plane landed in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said police would probe the incident.
He said the inquiry would include the possibility of sabotage, though he gave no indication that sabotage was suspected.
"We will take the necessary steps to investigate from all angles," he told Malaysian media.
Until the disappearance of MH370, Malaysia Airlines had enjoyed a good safety record, as did the Boeing 777 aircraft used for MH370.
An Australian-led multi-nation search effort is now scouring a remote area of the Indian Ocean in a bid to find the jet's wreckage and recover its flight data recorders to determine what happened.
Malaysia's government and the airline have come under harsh criticism from Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers -- two thirds of its 227 passengers were from China -- who have alleged a bungling response and a cover-up.
© 2014 AFP
Date: Apr 21, 2014