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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 24 October, 2014

Plane crashes on Burma road, killing three

It’s reported that the pilot mistook the road for a runway in bad weather.

File photo of an Air Bagan plane (not the plane that crashed) at Heho airport in Heho, Shan State
File photo of an Air Bagan plane (not the plane that crashed) at Heho airport in Heho, Shan State
Image: AP Photo/Khin Maung Win

A FLIGHT PACKED with Christmas tourists crash-landed on a road in central Burma today, killing three people and injuring 11.

Four foreigners were among the injured on the Air Bagan flight, the airline said. It said the fatalities were all Burma citizens: a tour guide and an 11-year-old child on board the plane and a man riding a motorcycle on the road where the plane came down.

The flight was carrying 63 passengers, including 51 foreigners, and six crew members from the city of Mandalay to Heho airport in Shan State, the gateway to a popular tourist destination, Inle Lake.

Air Bagan identified the injured tourists as two Americans, a British national and a Korean. It described the incident as an “emergency landing.”

Authorities gave a different and more dramatic account, saying the pilot mistook the road for a runway due to bad weather.

“While descending, the plane mistakenly landed … due to fog beside the runway,” state television reported. It said the aircraft made a hard landing on a road and then came to a stop in a nearby rice paddy field.

“The rear end of the plane broke and caught fire,” state TV said, carrying a statement posted on Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut’s Facebook page. Rescuers brought the fire under control about 45 minutes later, he said.

Witnesses said smoke filled the plane when it hit the ground and was still rising from the plane’s badly charred wreckage hours later.

Airport officials in Heho said that injured passengers were taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Taunggyi for treatment.

Air Bagan is one of five private airlines that fly domestic routes in Myanmar. It is a unit of Htoo Trading Company, which is owned by business tycoon Tay Za.

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