Saudi Arabia World Cup team land safely after suffering airplane scare | News | DW | 18.06.2018
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Saudi Arabia World Cup team land safely after suffering airplane scare

The Saudi squad has landed safely in Rostov-on-Don after one of their plane's engines appeared to catch fire. The airline, Rossiya, has said it is investigating the incident.

Saudi Arabia's World Cup squad landed safely in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Monday night, after one of the plane's wings caught fire upon landing.

Both the Saudi soccer federation and the airline Rossiya played down the seriousness of the incident, although a video uploaded by one of the players showed flames roaring out of the plane's wing.

"It was a small fire in one of the engines, the right engine, but the plane landed safely," federation president Ahmad Al Harbi told Saudi broadcaster KSA.

In a video statement posted on the federation's Twitter account, Saudi player Hatan Bahbir said: "We arrived safely and we are all fine ... it was a simple malfunction." Asked by one someone off-camera if he was scared, Bahbir replied "No, no. Well, of course we were scared a bit, but thank God."

The squad was flying from their base in St Petersburg to Rostov-on-Don ahead of their second World Cup match against Uruguay on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia were thrashed 5-0 by Russia in the opening game of the tournament.

Read more: How the World Cup will impact the Russian economy

Airline says birds to blame

Russia's Rossiya airline, which was carrying the Saudi Arabia soccer team, said it was investigating the cause of the engine malfunction, adding that a bird had likely entered the engine.

"As flight FV1007 from St Petersburg to Rostov-on-Don began to land, the (Airbus) A319 plane suffered a technical fault with one of its engines, with a bird getting caught seen as the preliminary cause," a Rossiya spokesman said.

"Nothing threatened the safety of the passengers," he added. "The aircraft's landing took place in a routine fashion," supposedly with both engines still intact and operating normally.

dm/kl (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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