Air Bagan's ATR aircraft crashes in Putao; no casualties

Yesterday afternoon a passenger aircraft belonging to Air Bagan crashed in Putao airport while trying to fly back to Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State, northernmost part of Burma. There were no casualties but some passengers and crew received minor injuries.

The ATR 72, turbo-propellant aircraft was carrying 62 passengers and five crew members. It crashed about 300 feet beyond the far end of the runway. All the passengers quickly escaped from the aircraft, Salang Mung Dang, a passenger told the KNG today.

Most passengers received minor injuries on the nose and head whereas the chief pilot sustained minor injuries on his left hand and forehead. The co-pilot was dazed for a few minutes, said passengers from Myitkyina.

Among the passengers, four were western tourists and the rest were local people including Christian religious pastors and Roman Catholic nuns. But no one was seriously injured, Salang Mung Dang added.

Salang Mung Dang, who arrived home in Du Mare quarter in Myitkyina from Putao this morning said, "The pilots applied the brakes after the aircraft failed take off twice. But they lost control and the aircraft crashed into a 20 feet-deep ditch beyond the runway."

The aircraft broke in the middle into two pieces and its left and right wings and tail also fell apart, according to passengers.

This morning, a day after the crash, Burma's most popular young tycoon U Tay Za, owner of Air Bagan and Htoo Company arrived in Putao airport at 10 a.m. and made a short apology to passengers, especially to the western tourists.

The four tourists, five aircraft crew members and some local passengers were then taken to Myitkyina by another Air Bagan ATR aircraft, said passengers.

Air Bagan is popular among both local and foreign travelers and tourists in the country because the aircrafts are new. But the latest ATR aircraft crash in Putao will diminish the popularity of the airlines, said residents of Myitkyina.

On the other hand, both locals and tourist do not want to travel by "Myanmar Airways" owned by Burma's ruling junta because they feel all the aircrafts are old and unsafe, said local air travellers.
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