MARUDI: A DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft of MASwings landed in a ditch in a mishap at Marudi airport in the first incident of this ageing aircraft of the Rural Air Service operator.
The incident occurred at about 2.19pm after the aircraft on flight MH 3562 from Miri touched down at the runway of the Marudi airport at about 2.33pm as the aircraft veered to the left side of the runway, tearing down the airport fencing and ending up in a ditch in fine weather.
Its left wing was touching the road to Kampung Padang Kerbau, after the rammed the wire fencing and coming to a halt with half the length of the aircraft in the ditch.
Baram OCPD Abu Bakar Moktar told the press that the 19-passenger aircraft was flying 17 passengers who escaped injury except for one female passenger who suffered minor leg injury.
The injured passenger received outpatient treatment at Marudi hospital, a stone-throw away from the airport.
He said Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) would investigate the actual cause of the incident although police preliminary investigation did not rule out technical problems as a possibility of the mishap.
DSP Bakar said this is the first aviation mishap involving a Twin Otter at Marudi airport in recent memory, and it was fortunate that there were no untoward incident in this.
The passengers hurriedly left the scene for the airport terminal at the other end of the runway while firefighters rushed to the scene to spray anti-inflammable powder on the aircraft as a precautionary measure.
Bakar said this is the first ever case involving an aircraft skidding in Marudi.
Meanwhile, a 49-year old school teacher, Hajijah Dollah, one of the passengers aboard, said she was the first to escape through the rear door which she opened after the aircraft came to a halt.
Traumatised by the incident, she was unable to re-collect much of what actually happened leading to the mishap.
Meanwhile, members of the public, including civil servants rushed to the scene for a closer look.
In Sept 2008, a similar aircraft of MASwings slammed into an empty farmhouse in Buduk Nur in Ba Kelalan highlands in a lucky escape for the 14 passengers and two pilots.
The aircraft landed in the paddy fields, narrowly missing the terminal building and other buildings along the runway.
The pilot was reported to suffer minor injuries while the rest were shaken up in this miraculous escape in that incident. Among the passengers were former SIB preacher and father to the late Dato Dr Judson Sakai Tagal and former Bukit Mas member of parliament Mutang Tagal, a SIB Australian preacher, Bruneian nationals and local Lun Bawangs.
Meanwhile, a press statement yesterday issued by Corporate Communications Department of MASwings said the Twin Otter veered off the runway upon landing in Marudi airport at around 1430 hours today.
There were no casualties and all 17 passengers and two operating crew of the flight disembarked safely.
Whilst the Marudi airport runway is still open for flight operations, MASwings has despatched an investigation team from Miri to Marudi for recovery and rescue action.
The airline said it will extend its full co-operation to the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation investigating the incident.
“MASwings assures customers that this is an isolated incident and safe flight operations continue to remain a high priority in the company at all times,” the statement added.