According to Chongqing city officials, a Tibet Airlines flight with 122 people on board, departing Chongqing Airport for the city of Nyingchi, on Thursday morning, encountered difficulty and veered off the runway, igniting one engine after briefly colliding with the tarmac.
Tibet Airlines said that all 122 people on board – including 113 passengers and nine flight crew – were safely evacuated, though around 40 people were taken to the hospital for treatment for injuries after evacuation.
“There was an abnormality during the takeoff process and the takeoff was interrupted according to procedure. After deviating from the runway, the engine swiped the ground and caught fire,” local aviation officials said in a statement, adding that it “has now been extinguished.”
Chongqing Airport said the left side of the craft, Airbus SE A319, caught fire, and added that an investigation is now underway. The aircraft was nine years old, according to a website that collects aviation data. Airbus said it is aware of the incident and was still reviewing the situation.
Thursday’s runway incident comes less than two months after a deadly crash involving a Boeing 737-800 operated by China Eastern Airlines, which killed all 132 passengers and crew on board during a flight from Kunming to Guangzhou on March 21. Chinese aviation authorities say the plane’s black boxes were “severely damaged” in the crash, complicating the probe into the accident.