KUALA LUMPUR- A Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 people aboard was forced to make an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early Monday in another blow to the flag-carrier’s safety image after the loss of flight MH370.
Flight MH192, bound for Bangalore in India, turned back to Kuala Lumpur shortly after it was discovered that a tyre had burst on take-off, the airline said.
“As safety is of utmost priority to Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft was required to turn back to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport),” the airline said in a statement.
The episode caused deep anxiety among passengers, with some crying or reciting prayers as the plane circled for hours off the coast, Malaysian media reported.
The plane circled in order to burn up fuel — a common practice in such landings, designed to make the plane lighter and minimize fire risks.
“The passengers were very scared when we learnt that the flight was having trouble,” the New Straits Times quoted a Dutch traveler as saying.
“Some were crying, while most of us had already started reciting prayers.”
The plane landed safely at 1:56 am (1756 GMT), nearly four hours after take-off, and all 159 passengers and seven crew members disembarked, the airline said.
The airline said tyre debris discovered on the runway had led to the decision to bring the Boeing 737-800 aircraft back.
“They have landed safely — thank God,” tweeted Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
The passengers would be accommodated in local hotels until the flight’s re-scheduled take-off at 3:30 pm local time on Monday, the airline said.