Twenty-nine passengers were injured when a Saudia flight suffered a landing gear failure and was forced to make an emergency landing in Madinah early Sunday, aviation officials said.
Flight SV2841, coming from the Iranian city of Mashhad, had 315 passengers on board, including 16 crew members.
The captain alerted the air traffic control tower after being unable to open the rear right-side landing gear. The pilot managed to land the plane after two unsuccessful attempts, said one eyewitness.
Khaled Al-Khaibari, a spokesman for the General Authority of Civil Aviation, told Arab News: “The rented Boeing 767 flight arriving from Mashhad to Madinah had developed a technical problem in the rear wheel on the aircraft’s right side, which led to the pilot having to land without the right wheels of the rear gear.”
Airport authorities cleared the runway for immediate landing and declared a state of emergency.
The injuries happened during a stampede as passengers scrambled to evacuate the plane, Khaibari said. Eighteen passengers who sustained minor injuries were treated at the airport, while 11 were taken to hospital, he said. He said a probe has been ordered into the incident, which occurred at around 4:14 a.m.
The airport was closed for 24 hours following the incident.
“Saudia expresses its deep sorrow to all the injured passengers ... and prays to ... the Almighty that He may provide them with a speedy recovery,” the airline said.
Ghulam Rezai, head of the Iranian Haj Organization in the Kingdom, thanked the Saudi government for the good care given to the injured pilgrims. “All the injured pilgrims except four have left hospital while the condition of four is stable,” said Mohammed Al-Bejawi, director of the Haj Ministry’s office in Madinah.