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Boeing passenger plane exits runway in Senegal injuring 11

By Malick Rokhy Ba - AFP
Senegal Blaise Diagne international airport near the Senegalese capital Dakar opened in 2017.  By SEYLLOU (AFP)
THU, 09 MAY 2024 LISTEN
Blaise Diagne international airport near the Senegalese capital Dakar opened in 2017. By SEYLLOU (AFP)

A Boeing passenger plane came off the runway during takeoff from Dakar international airport early Thursday, injuring 11 people and shutting the hub for almost 12 hours, its operator said.

The Air Senegal flight was bound for the Malian capital Bamako and had 78 passengers onboard, airport management company, LAS, said in a statement.

Images taken during the night and published by local media and on social networks showed the plane in an overgrown area with first aiders surrounding an injured person.

Smoke and flames are also visible near the aircraft.

The Boeing 737/300 had been chartered from privately owned Transair, LAS said.

The jet "came off the runway during its takeoff phase" around 1:00 am (0100 GMT), it said.

Eleven people were injured, four of them seriously. Six other passengers were taken for medical check-ups inside the airport.

The transport ministry said in a separate statement that two pilots and four cabin crew were onboard.

It gave slightly different numbers saying there were 79 passengers and 10 injured, including a pilot.

Blaise Diagne airport at Diass, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Senegalese capital Dakar, reopened shortly after midday, its operator later announced.

"We inform you that Blaise Diagne international airport has reopened," said LAS, made up of Turkish group Limak, the publicly-owned airport operator AIBD and another Turkish entity, Summa.

"Airport operations have resumed as normal."

The aircraft was "immobilised" away from the runway and an emergency plan triggered by airport authorities as soon as they were alerted, the group said.

"All the airport emergency services have been mobilised for the evacuation of passengers and their care, as per the plan," LAS went on.

Investigation under way

"The exact circumstances of the incident remain to be determined, but an investigation is already under way to establish the reasons" why the aircraft left the runway.

"Aviation specialists along with representatives of the airline concerned are on site to examine closely the airline log data and interview crew members," LAS said.

The transport ministry said the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis had opened an inquiry to determine the cause of the accident.

It comes as Air Senegal faces criticism with passengers regularly complaining about delays to domestic and international flights.

US manufacturer Boeing is also mired in problems, including safety concerns after two 737 MAX crashes within five months and another scare involving the aircraft over Alaska in January.

Thursday's incident comes a day after a Boeing 767 Fedex cargo plane touched down at Istanbul airport without its front landing gear which failed to open, though nobody was hurt, the US Federal Aviation administration said.

State-owned Air Senegal began operating in May 2018 after emerging from the April 2016 collapse of Senegal Airlines.

The latter had itself replaced in 2009 Air Senegal International, in which Senegal and Morocco had stakes.

The launch of the carrier's latest incarnation is part of a plan to turn Dakar into a regional air hub around the international airport, inaugurated in December 2017, and revamped provincial airports.

The Blaise Diagne airport at Diass is named for the first African lawmaker elected to the French parliament in 1872 until 1934.

It replaces the Leopold-Sedar-Senghor International Airport (AILSS) in the suburbs of the capital which has been converted into a military facility.

Transair, founded in 2010, is based at Blaise Diagne and serves a dozen destinations across West Africa.

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