On Saturday, Australian investigators began examining a stricken Qantas jumbo jet that made a harrowing emergency landing in the Philippines with a giant hole in its fuselage.
The Boeing 747-400 was cruising at 8,800 meters on friday with 346 passengers aboard when it was shaken by what passengers described as an explosion. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling as the plane descended rapidly and debris flew through the cabin from a hole that suddenly appeared in the floor.
En route to Melbourne, Australia from London, the plane managed to land safely minutes later at the Manila airport. There were no injuries among the passengers and crew.
Four specialists from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau were inspecting the aircraft Saturday to determine what caused the damage, said Ruben Ciron, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
"They are conducting the investigation. They are the principal, we are just the support," Ciron said.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Geoff Dixon told reporters Saturday he was "horrified" after seeing pictures of the aircraft's gaping hole. He said it was too early to speculate on what caused the damage.
"There are thousands of aircraft flying around the world today, things happen. Something has happened in Philippines and we cannot speculate any more about what did happen," Dixon said.