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Thursday, December 25, 1997 Published at 16:03 GMT


'Miracle' of plane crash survivors
image: [ Nose down: the Biman Bangladeshi plane crashed into a paddy field ]
Nose down: the Biman Bangladeshi plane crashed into a paddy field

The Bangladeshi Government has set up an inquiry to examine why a domestic flight carrying 84 passengers crash-landed in a rice field.

Officials said they were amazed that nobody was killed or seriously injured

[ image:  ]
The Bangladeshi plane, on a domestic flight from the capital Dhaka, came down just two miles (3km) from its destination, Sylhet airport.

Almost half the passengers on board were ex-patriate Bangldeshis who had just returned home on a flight from London.

One survivor, Abdul Jalil, said: "I thought I was dying but later found myself alive. It's a miracle."

[ image: Officials say the plane's wings came off]
Officials say the plane's wings came off
More than 55 survivors, including the plane's pilot, Captain Mannan, were injured, officials and witnesses at the scene said.

An airport official said: "It's sheer luck that the plane did not burst into flames. That's why the passengers were saved from almost certain deaths."

The Biman Bangladesh Airlines Fokker 28 plane crash landed in heavy fog after the pilot had made several failed attempts to land at Sylhet, an airport official said.

Air traffic controllers only learned of the crash when villagers arrived at the airport, carrying injured passengers.

[ image: Bad weather hampered the rescue]
Bad weather hampered the rescue
Bad weather hampered the rescue operation and it took two hours to find the wreckage. Local villagers joined paramilitary soldiers and army troops in trying to help the survivors.

One passenger, Tara Miah, said: "We knew something has gone wrong. Many started screaming and calling for Allah's help. Soon we saw we had landed on a paddy field in the dark."

The Civil Aviation Minister Alamgir Khan Mohiuddin said no one was killed but 17 people were in hospital.

"It was a miracle that no one was critically injured despite the dangerous crash when the wheels and one of the wings were damaged," fire brigade official, Mozammel Hossain, said.

Many members of Britain's Bangladeshi community are originally from the Sylhet area.

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