A pre-dawn landing attempt at Medina airport in western Saudi Arabia left 29 people injured after the plane’s right rear landing gear failed to deploy. The flight, a Boeing 767-300ER operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), originated in the Iranian city of Mashhad and was carried mostly Muslim pilgrims to the holy city of Medina.
According to a Reuters report, the plane had reported trouble with the landing gear and made two unsuccessful attempts to land before being forced to make a final emergency landing.
The plane slid and skidded along its right side, but no major fire was reported and images show the plane remained in one piece. Of the 29 injured, 11 were taken to hospital and reports say of these, three are said to be in a serious condition.
All flights into Medina were cancelled for 24 hours as authorities assessed the damage to runways. One unnamed spokesperson said most the injured were hurt in the panic as passengers scrambled to get off the plane after the accident.
State-owned ‘Saudia’ is the national air carrier of Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports the firm is in the process of splitting into different units that will eventually be partly privatized. The airline has a reasonably decent safety record, with one Online airline safety rater giving the airline four out of a possible seven stars.
The last major incident for Saudia was in 2008, when one of the airline’s planes suffered an engine fire and made an emergency landing in Bangladesh. Only minor injuries were reported in that incident.