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Two people injured by debris after Boeing 747 suffers engine fire over Netherlands

A Boeing 747-400 cargo plane in flight over the Mojave Desert, north of Los Angeles.
A Boeing 747-400 cargo plane in flight over the Mojave Desert, north of Los Angeles. Copyright AP Photo/Matt Hartman - FILE
Copyright AP Photo/Matt Hartman - FILE
By Euronews
Published on Updated
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Two people in the Netherlands were injured by debris after a Boeing 747 cargo flight suffered an engine fire after taking off from Maastricht on Saturday.

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Dutch Aviation authorities are investigating after a Boeing 747 aircraft suffered an engine fire and scattered debris near Maastricht.

According to local police, two people were injured by wreckage in the southern town of Meerssen on Saturday.

An elderly woman was hit in the head and had to be treated in hospital, while a child was also reportedly slightly injured and suffered burns when trying to pick up pieces of plane debris from the ground. Several cars and houses were also damaged.

Maastricht Aachen Airport said the Boeing 747-400 cargo aircraft suffered an "engine fire" on its way to New York and was forced to land in Liège.

"At the end of the afternoon, an engine fire started on an aircraft after take-off," the airport said, adding that the plane was able to continue flying on three engines.

The Dutch aviation safety board (Onderzoeksraad) has launched an exploratory investigation into the incident.

Netherlands police's National Unit has said their Air Traffic Control department is also investigating "whether there is any culpability".

According to the Dutch airport, the Longtail Aviation Flight 5504 was carrying "general cargo and pharmaceuticals".

"A few seconds after take-off, air traffic control detected an engine fire and informed the pilots of the aircraft," a statement read, "they then switched off the relevant engine and sent out a distress signal."

The pilots decided to land in Liège because the runway is longer than in Maastricht, meaning a heavy aircraft with a large amount of fuel onboard has more space to land safely.

In the US, a Boeing 777-200 passenger flight was forced to make an emergency landing after suffering an engine failure, which also scattered debris across suburban Denver.

"We understand that people are shocked and regret that this has happened," said Maastricht Aachen Airport.

"Our attention is now primarily focused on those directly involved in this incident ... what exactly happened to cause the engine fire is not clear at this time."

The authorities are organising a meeting with local residents in Meerssen to explain the incident further.

"The Dutch Safety Board and the Aviation Police are conducting an investigation into this, to which we and the airline company are providing full cooperation," the airport said.

"We want to await these investigations and do not want to anticipate the results by speculating. That does not help anyone at the moment."

Boeing has referred Euronews to the Dutch Safety Board for any information about the incident.

Meanwhile, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has confirmed that both aircraft in the US and Netherlands were equipped with similar engines.

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"EASA is aware of the two unrelated incidents at the weekend involving Boeing aircraft equipped with Pratt and Whitney P&W4000 engines," a spokesperson told Euronews.

"We are in contact with the FAA, which is the primary certification authority for the engines and for Boeing aircraft, and have requested further information about the cause of the incidents, so as to determine what action may need to be taken."

Additional sources • DPA

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