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Big hole in fuselage prompts Qantas flight to make emergency stop in Manila

Jul 25, 2008, Manila, Philippines, APR [The Associated Press] - - A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila on Friday after a hole opened up in the Boeing 747-400's fuselage, officials and passengers said.


July 25, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

Jul 25, 2008, Manila, Philippines, APR [The Associated Press] – A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila on Friday after a hole opened up in the Boeing 747-400's fuselage, officials and passengers said.

There were no injuries, but some of the 345 passengers vomited
after disembarking, said Manila International Airport Authority
deputy manager for operations Octavio Lina.

In a statement from Sydney, Australia, Qantas confirmed the hole
in its fuselage and said it was being inspected by engineers.

A report by the Manila International Airport Authority quoting
pilot John Francis Bartels said an initial investigation indicated
there was an “explosive decompression.'' There were no details.

Lina said the cabin's floor gave way, exposing some of the cargo
beneath and part of the ceiling collapsed.

“There is a big hole on the right side near the wing,'' he said,
adding it was 2.5 to 3 metres in diameter.

Passengers who talked to the media at the airport described
hearing an explosion and then oxygen masks were released.

“One hour into the flight there was a big bang then the plane
started going down,'' passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Melbourne,
told The Associated Press by phone from Manila airport. “There was
wind swirling around the plane and some condensation.''

She said the hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger
cabin.

“The plane kept going down not too fast, but it was
descending,'' Scaffidi said, adding the jetliner was over the South
China Sea when the staff informed passengers they were diverting to
Manila.

“No one was very hysterical,'' she said.

Michael Rahill, 57, an architect from Melbourne, said the bang
sounded “like a tire exploding, but more violently.''

The passengers were taken to several hotels while waiting for
another plane to Melbourne, said an airline officer who declined to
be identified because he wasn't authorized to talk to the media.

Chief Superintendent Atilano Morada, head of the police Aviation
Security Group, said his officers, including explosives experts, may
assist in the airline's investigation.

“So far, they don't want us to touch it, so we will respect the
aircraft owner. But we will make our personnel available if they
need assistance in the investigation,'' he said.