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Max Air: ‘We owe God our lives’ – Passengers recount ordeal

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Max Air: ‘We owe God our lives’ – Passengers recount ordeal

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

On Sunday, a MaxAir aircraft departing from Yola to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja had a terrifying experience as the tyre reportedly burst into flames during landing. 

The plane had departed the Adamawa state capital at 14:05pm and was scheduled to arrive the Centre of Unity at 15:00pm on Sunday before the incident.

Fortunately, all 143 passengers, one infant, and six crew members on board were safely evacuated with no casualties.

It is not yet clear what caused the tyre to burst into flames, but investigations are ongoing. 

However, the Aerodrome Rescue and Fire-fighting Service (ARFFS) operatives at the airport were swift to mobilize to put out the fire. The runway was temporarily closed while the aircraft was being towed.

In the meantime, the passengers are just grateful to be alive and thankful for the professionalism of the crew and emergency responders.

Some passengers on the flight recounted their experiences during the crash-landing. 

Former President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima, who gave an account of the incident, said the tyre pulled out ab initio after takeoff at Yola Airport.

But the aircraft crash-landed in Abuja with emergency officials already on ground to put off the fire before the passengers were disembarked right at the runway.

Ogirima said, “We thank God. We are still on the runway and pilot has reassured us. He has called for the stairs and we are now disembarking from the runway to be evacuated to the airport building at the arrival hall.

“We bless God because we have witnessed the pull out of the tyre right from the airport in Yola and we went into prayer session. I never announced it as a surgeon so as not to cause any panic but we bless God.”

Another passenger, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “We felt a sudden jolt and the plane started shaking. We could hear a loud noise and knew something was wrong and we were very scared.

“But the crew did an amazing job of keeping us safe. They made sure we were wearing our seatbelts and helped us evacuate the plane quickly when the time was right.

“We are grateful to them for their quick thinking and the emergency responders for their bravery. We owe God our lives,” she added.

Meanwhile, a statement by the management of the airline, said it will continue to provide updates on the situation as more information becomes available.

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The statement reads, “On May 7th, 2023, a Max Air flight with 143 passengers and 01 infant on board, departing from Yola at around 14:05, was scheduled to arrive in Abuja at 15:00. 

“However, the aircraft experienced two tire bursts on landing Abuja, and the emergency response team quickly responded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

“We are pleased to report that all passengers and crew on board the aircraft are safe and sound. The airline has taken all necessary steps to ensure that the passengers are comfortable and are being taken care of during this time. They have been conveyed to the arrival terminal with their luggage and belongings.

“The aircraft tires are being replaced and the aircraft will taxi to the ramp for further investigations before being released for future flights.

“Max Air is committed to providing safe and reliable air travel to all its passengers. We thank all the passengers for their patience and understanding. for what transpired.

“The airline would like to extend its appreciation to the airport authorities, emergency services, and all relevant agencies who responded promptly and professionally to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew on board.”

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