China’s aviation regulator says it is investigating why a Tibet Airlines plane veered off the runway and burst into flames during takeoff Thursday, injuring dozens of people.
The front of the Airbus SE A319 aircraft was engulfed in flames and enveloped by thick black smoke, footage posted on social media showed. Passengers carrying bags and other items were seen on the tarmac running away from the burning jet.
While all 113 passengers and nine crew onboard the flight were safely evacuated, according to a Tibet Airlines statement posted on Weibo, 36 were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.
The plane suffered “abnormalities” and the takeoff was aborted, Tibet Airlines said, without elaborating. The carrier is a subsidiary of state-owned national carrier Air China Ltd.
The plane was due to fly from Chongqing in China’s southwest to Nyingchi in Tibet. Flights are now arriving and departing Chongqing as normal, the airport said. However, the CAAC said one one runway was closed, while two were operating normally.
The nine-year-old aircraft was powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International—a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, according to Planespotters.net.
Airbus China spokesman Michael Shen said: “We are aware of the media reports. All efforts are now going toward assessing the situation.”
CFM didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.
The incident comes less than two months after a China Eastern Airlines Corp. plane crashed in the southwestern province of Guangxi, killing all 132 passengers and crew.