An Emirates plane that crash-landed in a fireball at Dubai airport this morning had 24 British passengers onboard, according to officials.
An explosion broke out on the aircraft when it hit the tarmac after reports the landing gear failed to deploy properly.
None of the 282 passengers or 18 crew were injured and all have been safely evacuated from the aircraft but a firefighter was killed “saving the lives of the others”, the General Civil Aviation Authority confirmed.
Footage appearing to show passengers running away from the aircraft was posted to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
The video depicts hundreds of terrified people streaming down the runway clutching suitcases and belongings, while parents held their children.
Emirates, the largest airline operator in the Middle East, confirmed that an “incident” had taken place at Dubai Airport on Wednesday.
“Our main priority now is the safety and well-being of all involved,” the airline said on Twitter.
The Boeing 777 crash happened at 12:45pm local time (9:45am BST).
A witness inside a terminal near the crash site said the plane appeared to “explode” after touching down on the runway without landing gears.
While LBC reported passengers said the plane caught fire “very fast” and resembled an explosion.
Video footage shot near the scene shows an explosion in part of the plane, as a fire-ball and thick black smoke erupt into the air.
While data from FlightTracker showed the plane seemed to make a normal descent into Dubai airport.
The General Civil Aviation Authority revealed in a statement that a firefighter was killed helping passengers escape.
“We are very sad to announce that one of the firefighters lost his life while saving the lives of the others,” the authority’s director general said on Wednesday.
“On behalf of the General Civil Aviation Authority, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of deceased,” said the director general of GCAA.
“I salute his ultimate sacrifice that kept many from harm’s way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
An Emirates flight from London bound for Dubai - flight EK 8 - was returned to its gate at Heathrow from the taxiway soon after the incident.
One passenger posted on Twitter she had been on a plane on the tarmac at Heathrow for nearly two hours with no update from airline staff.
Other Emirates and Qantas flights bound for Dubai have been grounded at Heathrow, a spokeswoman for the airport told The Huffington Post UK.
Dubai Airport has also been severely affected; Gulf News posted a picture of the departures board that showed over 35 flights delayed.
The majority of passengers on board were Indian nationals, followed by those from the UK and United Arab Emirates. A full break-down of the nationalities was released by the airline:
- 226 - India
- 24 - UK
- 11 - UAE
- 6 - US
- 6 - Saudi Arabia
- 5 - Turkey
- 4 - Ireland
- 2 - Australia
- 2 - Brazil
- 2 - Germany
- 2 - Malaysia
- 2 - Thailand
- 1 - Croatia
- 1 - Egypt
- 1 - Bosnia & Herzegovina
- 1 - Lebanon
- 1 - Philippines
- 1 - South Africa
- 1 - Switzerland
- 1 - Tunisia
A spokesman for the Foreign Office told HuffPost UK they were ready to “support” British nationals affected.
“We are in contact with the airline Emirates following the incident at Dubai airport, and understand all passengers have left the aircraft safely. Our staff are ready to support any British nationals if required.”
Thiruvananthapuram, the point of the plane’s origin, is the capital of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala - a popular beachside tourist destination. Many blue-collar migrant workers employed in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf nations come from Kerala.
Dubai International is by far the Middle East’s busiest airport, and is the world’s busiest air hub in terms of international passenger traffic, the Associated Press reported.
Government-backed Emirates is the region’s biggest carrier, and operates the world’s largest airline fleet of the wide-body 777 long-haul aircraft.
Concerned friends and family members of those on board can call the following dedicated contact numbers:
UAE - 8002111
UK - +442034508853
US - +18113502081