Tue, 15 Jan 2002

Lion Plane skids in Pekanbaru

M. Syaraf, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru

At least seven people were injured when a plane carrying 96 passengers crash-landed shortly after takeoff on Monday at the Sultan Syarif Qasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, airport officials said.

No fatalities were reported after the accident that took place at 10:15 p.m. However, one of the wounded passengers, a Singaporean, suffered a broken leg.

Airport officials said the Boeing 737 plane belonging to Lion Air, a small airline company, suddenly came to a halt just several minutes after hitting the runway.

They also said the aircraft was about to take off when a light on the side of the runway turned red, prompting the pilot to abort the takeoff.

"When the plane was taking off, it immediately landed outside the runway," a passenger said. "We then screamed in panic. But when the plane touched down, we rushed to get out through the emergency doors."

Other passengers said smoke was blowing from the fuselage when the plane stopped. The plane's right wing and right wheel were also damaged, they added.

Rescue workers and firefighters rushed to the scene and extinguished the small blaze.

Airport officials, police and medical personnel evacuated the passengers and crew from the airport and took the injured to a nearby hospital.

Airport authorities prohibited journalists from covering the event at the scene of the accident.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. The plane, on its way from Jakarta to Batam, made a stopover in Pekanbaru, where it took off at 10:10 a.m.

Some of the passengers had been moved to Lion's Boeing 737 from a Merpati plane that was also bound for Batam.

Lion officials said all the passengers were safe, saying the crash only caused minor injuries.