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Fire engulfs Taiwan passenger plane

A China Airlines passenger jet burst into flames in Japan and it is not immediately clear if everyone has got off the Taiwanese airliner safely.

world Updated: Aug 20, 2007 08:34 IST

A China Airlines passenger jet on Monday burst into flames in Japan and it was not immediately clear if everyone had got off the Taiwanese airliner safely, officials said.

Giant flames and plumes of black smoke erupted from the Boeing 737 after it landed from Taipei at Naha airport on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Firefighters were spraying water and foam on the aircraft, which had turned into little more than a burnt-out skeleton that had collapsed into pieces, television footage showed.

"I saw passengers getting out of the airplane. And then there were four explosions," a witness, whose name was not given, told Nippon Television.

The fire department said that everyone appeared to have exited the plane, but that authorities could not rule out some people still being on board.

"It seems that passengers and crew members have been evacuated. But while it is unclear, there is the possibility that around four people may have still been in there," a fire department official said.

Jiji Press said it was possible that the four people were crew members and may have been injured, but that information was unconfirmed.

Public broadcaster NHK said that 155 passengers had taken the flight from Taipei to Naha.

There was no immediate information on what caused the explosions. Kyodo News, quoting national police, said there was no information it was a terrorist attack.

Television reports said that loud explosions were heard from the aircraft shortly after it landed in Okinawa, a popular resort destination which lies closer to Taiwan than Tokyo. In Taiwan, officials from China Airlines were not immediately available for comment.