Vol. 5 Num 136 Sat. October 09, 2004  
Front Page

Biman F-28 skids off runway, hits canal bank: 30 injured

A Biman Bangladesh Airlines aircraft yesterday morning skidded 150 feet off the runway after landing at Osmani International Airport and finished up stuck in mud across a canal, with its nose buried five feet deep into the bank.

Miraculously, none of the 79 passengers aboard, including 37 from London, was seriously hurt. The flight captain suffered a fracture in arm while the co-pilot and some 30 passengers including a former advisor to caretaker government received some minor injuries.

The Fokker F-28 Friendship aircraft of domestic Flight BG-601, the day's first one to Sylhet, took off from Zia International Airport at 8:30am. It had a delayed landing in Sylhet at 9:15am amid heavy downpour.

The pilot, Captain Shahana Begum, touched down the plane far beyond the usual landing point as its nose wheel was jammed and lost control, an official of Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (Caab) told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.

Former advisor to caretaker government and Brac Executive Director Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, Shahana and Co-pilot Abu Safa got trapped in the cockpit as the plane's nose dug at least five feet into the opposite bank of a 20 feet wide canal.

Shahana and Safa were rescued at 12:10pm and Muyeed at 3:20pm by army, air force and Caab crew. The rescuers had to cut their way through the craft's belly and some seats to reach them in the cockpit.

Shahana's right arm was fractured. She underwent an operation at Osmani Medical College Hospital (OMCH) and was then sent to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in the capital for further treatment.

Muyeed was also helicoptered to the CMH after administering first aid at the airport's VIP lounge. Abdus Shakur Chowdhury, younger brother of Muyeed, accompanied him in the air force helicopter.

Immediately after the rescue, Muyeed said, "I just feel some pain in my left arm and in the right leg." Deputy Civil Surgeon of Sylhet Mahbub Ahmed, who attended to his injuries, said he thinks there is no fracture in his body, the wounds are minor.

CMH doctors last night confirmed that the injuries of both Shahana and Muyeed, now in intensive care unit of the hospital, are minor ones and both of them are out of danger.

State Minister for Education Ehsanul Huq Milon, Whip Fazlul Haque Aspia MP, Juba Dal General Secretary Moazzem Hossain Alal MP, Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu MP, Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (Sust) Vice Chancellor Professor Moslehuddin Ahmed and Privatisation Commission Chairman Enam Ahmed Chowdhury were among the injured passengers. They and Abu Safa took first aid at local Noorjahan Hospital.

Eight other injured passengers took medical aid at the OMCH and the rest at different Sylhet clinics.

The F-28 craft was added to the Biman's fleet in 1981. Civil Aviation Secretary Akhtar Hossain Khan said the plane has been functioning satisfactorily during the last 23 years.

Talking to The Daily Star Caab Chairman Air Commodore Zahed Kuddus declined to specify the cause of the accident, which he said will be done by a three-member probe committee formed into the accident headed by Caab Flight Safety Director Habibullah Khan.

The black box and voice recorder were recovered from the cockpit and would be sent abroad to ascertain the causes of the mishap, the Caab chief added.

Narrating the crash Whip Aspia told The Daily Star last night, "I was talking to Enam Ahmed Chowdhury and getting ready to disembark. But, the plane did not land at the right place. It most probably touched down far away and soon started skidding. Within a minute we heard a loud bang and knew we are in for it."

"I feel the accident occurred due to the pilot's carelessness. Luckily, I did not receive any injury, though I am feeling pain in my body. The passengers managed to come out through emergency exits," Aspia added.

Zaved Gani of Jagannathpur upazila of Sunamganj district and Kabir Uddin of Nazirbazar under Sylhet Sadar upazila were returning home from the UK. They reached ZIA by a Biman flight in the early hours yesterday and embarked the Sylhet-bound plane.

Zaved said, "The craft started behave strangely after it touched down and soon ran beyond the runway. Within moments, we heard a huge bang and found the craft skidding."

"It stopped with a great bump and we scrambled to the exits and somehow managed to get out," Kabir said joining in the narration.

Muyeed Chowdhury, a former managing director of the national carrier, had gone to the cockpit to talk to the crew, who requested him to stay there, said a Biman official.

Muyeed said, "I could not guess anything wrong as the landing seemed to be all right. Suddenly there was a bang making the plane shudder violently. And I knew things are wrong. Within minutes, other passengers managed to get out through emergency exits, but I could not, as I was stuck in a small seat near the cockpit."

M Alauddin of Kandigaon village under Bishwanath upazila, who reached ZIA from London at 4:35am yesterday and then boarded the BG-601, said the flight was delayed for about 15 minutes due to heavy rain.

"I was sitting beside a porthole and talking to others, who were also coming from London. But we became mum when we saw the plane rushing past the runway. Within moments it hit the opposite bank of a canal with a loud bang. None of the passengers however sustained any serious injury."

Related Story
arrow Chronology of Biman mishaps
Fifty-seven people died in four of the eight air crashes in the country since independence.
Rescuers cutting the cockpit of the ill-fated aircraft to get the pilot out. The aircraft of Biman Bangladesh Airlines with 79 passengers aboard skidded off the runway at Sylhet Osmani International Airport and crashed into a canal yesterday morning. PHOTO: STAR