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(Sudan Tribune – 18th July) – An Ethiopian Airline plane from the capital Addis Ababa to the northern tourist town of Axum was forced to make a rough landing on Wednesday after its smoke sensors went off minutes before landing, an airline official said.

The plane, a Bombardier Q400 with 78 passengers and crew on board, made the landing after alarms went off to warn of smoke in one of its wings.

“The smoke sensors in the aircraft indicated a fire alarm one minute before landing” an official who decline to be named said adding, “the left wing of the plane was smoking and one engine was not functioning properly”

The official also said the cause of the smoke was under investigation. By the time of filing this report on Thursday, Ethiopian Airlines had not made an official statement over the incident.

 Everybody panicked

“We could see smoke coming out of the plane’s wing. Everybody panicked. It was a very scary incident,” said Rigaet Haile-aeb, one of the passengers on board told the Sudan Tribune by phone.

Haile-aeb was travelling with her husband and their one year old daughter.

The captain reportedly made a steep descent and quickly landed before reaching the main runway to avoid a potential fire outbreak as all passengers safely disembarked from the plane.

Quoting aviation experts, the Ethiopian Airlines official said the aircraft could have blown up in the sky, had the smoke – which had the potential of turning into fire – began five minutes earlier.

The official lauded the captain’s quick measures and his courage in handling the situation professionally. Passengers reportedly paid tribute to the captain for saving their lives.

This is a second Ethiopian passenger plane to face difficulties in less than one week.

Last week, Ethiopian Airlines owned Boeing 787 Dreamliner which was parked at Britain’s Heathrow airport caught fire forcing a temporary shutdown to the airport’s main runways.

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