Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Published at 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Explosion blamed for plane fire
The plane was engulfed in flames and smoke as it landed
Investigators say a fire onboard a plane which crash-landed in Taiwan on Tuesday was caused by an explosion.
Twenty-eight of the 96 people aboard the internal UNI Airlines flight from Taipei to Hualien were injured. At least two people are in critical condition with severe burns.
Pilots, controllers, witnesses and maintenance technicians are being questioned to establish the exact cause.
Officials from the Cabinet-level Aviation Safety Council (ASC) ruled out mechanical failure or pilot error as factors behind the accident.
"Judging from a large hole on the fuselage of the MD-90 plane, and the way in which the steel skin of the fuselage around the hole had burst outward, an explosive was deemed to be to have been the most likely cause of the damage," an agency official is quoted as saying.
As the plane touched down, a loud "strange noise" came from the cabin and thick smoke poured from an overhead luggage compartment, said UNI vice chairman Si Chung-ching.
"There was an explosion above us, and many people had burns on their faces or holes in their clothes," a passenger told a local cable station.
Hualien Airport was closed after the accident which happened at around 12.40 local time.
TV footage showed black smoke belching from the plane's fuselage as firefighters doused the flames.
On Sunday, a China Airlines MD-11 jetliner flying out of Bangkok burst into flames as the pilot tried to land in Hong Kong, killing two people and injuring more than 200.