Page last updated at 21:49 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 22:49 UK

B-1 plane catches fire in Qatar

B-1 bomber (file pic)
The long-range B-1 can reach supersonic speeds

The crew of a US B-1 bomber aircraft are safe after their plane caught fire in an incident in Qatar, the US air force has said.

The long-range bomber was "involved in a ground incident and caught fire" at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, an air force statement said.

The incident occurred while the plane was taxiing after landing, the statement said.

A defence official had earlier told Reuters news agency the plane crashed.

Qatar map

The crew members evacuated the aircraft and are safe after the incident, which occurred at 2120 local time (1820 GMT), the air force said.

The fire has been contained and the incident is under investigation, the statement said.

The base, 35km (20 miles) south of Qatar's capital, Doha, is used by the US as the headquarters for its air operations in the Middle East.

The B-1, usually flown by a crew of four, can fly intercontinental missions without refuelling.

The aircraft has been in service since the Cold War and has a "reasonably good" safety record, defence analyst Paul Beaver told the BBC.

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