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AirAsia plane grounded in Australia after 'bird strike'

An AirAsia flight from Australia to Malaysia has been forced to make an emergency landing after a suspected bird strike. Passengers described feeling the plane shaking and seeing flames engulf the engine.

AirAsia X Flight D7 207 started experiencing engine trouble soon after taking off from Australia's Gold Coast airport, the Malaysian budget carrier said Tuesday.

The Kuala Lumpur bound plane with 345 passengers and 14 crew was diverted to the nearby eastern city of Brisbane, where it landed safely overnight.

Passengers said the aircraft started to vibrate, and that they could hear explosion-like bangs coming from the right engine.

The airline later explained in a statement that the plane had experienced "a suspected bird strike to its starboard engine."

"The remains of two birds were found on the runway."

"We are following all regulatory guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests, who are currently being attended to by our ground staff," AirAsia X chief Benyamin Ismail added.

A spokesman for Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said AirAsia's engineers were expected to confirm the cause of the problem later on Tuesday.

Officials inspect the engine of an AirAsia plane

Officials at Australia's Brisbane airport inspect the engine of the grounded AirAsia plane

No injuries were reported on the flight.

Passenger Calvin Boon told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he saw flames going through the engine.

Another traveler, Tim Joga, told The Sydney Morning Herald the plane "started shuddering, then there were a couple of loud bangs and a lot of light."

"I could see an orange light coming from the windows." 

Monday night's flight grounding is the second incident involving the airline in as many days. On Sunday, another AirAsia flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur was forced to turn back after experiencing technical issues about 90 minutes into the journey. One passenger said it was like "sitting on top of a washing machine."

The airline suffered its first fatal incident in December 2014, when AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed off Indonesia killing all 162 people on board. That tragedy happened in the same year as two Malaysia Airlines crashes which left hundreds of people dead.

nm/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

 

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