Kuala Lumpur: Shreya Patel and her family missed the flares of Diwali, but she witnessed a surreal version on board a Qantas flight to Australia when an engine of the jumbo jet caught fire, emitting sparks with a bang. Flight QF6 had just taken off from Singapore for Sydney on Friday night, when one of the four engines of the Boeing 747 caught fire, said the 26-year-old Patel who was sitting on the window seat 57A on the left side of the plane.
The incident happened a day after another Qantas jetliner, an Airbus A380, suffered a massive blowout on one of its engines soon after taking off from Singapore for Sydney and had to make an emergency landing in Singapore.
Patel, an MBA student from Pune, said they knew about the Airbus A380 incident before leaving Mumbai, but "we said no, come on! It is a one in a hundred event. It wont happen again." But, the 'one in hundred event' occurred just a day later.
"I had such a fantastic view of the engine. There was a loud bang like a cracker-bomb going off and then there were flashes of fire and sparks like an anar (flowerpot) being lit," said Patel, who was travelling with her sister and parents for a planned vacation in New Zealand.
"We thought we were having Diwali crackers. We did not celebrate at home in Pune and I thought maybe they are celebrating it for us," she joked. The family had left Pune on November 3 for Mumbai from where they took a Qantas flight QF52 to Singapore and changed over to QF6 for Sydney.
She said she had dozed off, while watching the Hollywood movie "Salt" when the bang woke her up. The fire lasted about 15 to 20 seconds before the pilot shut off the engine and came on the public address system to announce that there was a problem with the engine but that there was no danger to the plane. "Everybody clapped when they heard that. It was not at all serious. All the passengers were calm," she said.
After a while the captain announced he was bringing back the plane, carrying 431 passengers and crew, back to Singapore.