Vietnam Airlines Plane Engine Failure, Explosion Forces Closure of Melbourne Airport

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 7, 2014 4:02 PM EST

Flights were disrupted in Melbourne Airport on Tuesday after a plane engine failure of a Vietnam Airlines plane led to an explosion. The terminal was closed for 40 minutes for both incoming and outgoing airliners.

REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
The main entrance of the old Athens' airport at Hellenikon suburb, southwest of Athens May 5, 2014. Greece's return from bond market exile and signs of economic revival has attracted big international investors to its privatisation drive, giving the country more options for raising cash to cut debts, the chief executive of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) Ioannis Emiris told Reuters in an interview. Since its 2010 bailout, Athens has signed privatisation deals worth 4.9 billion euros. It raised upfront about 2.7 billion euros in cash, with more than half of that amount coming from gambling sales and licenses. The money raised so far is less than an initial target for 22 billion euros in 2010-2013 set by the EU/IMF. The biggest deals have been the sale of gambling firm OPAP and a landmark, 915-million-euro property lease at the site of the former Athens airport. To match Interview GREECE-PRIVATISATION/ Picture taken May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Vietnam Airlines Flight 780 was taxiing to take off on a flight to Ho Chi Minh City when the malfunction happened.

The aircraft then caught fire after burning debris fell from it just moments before take off.

The twin-engine Airbus A330 eventually halted at the intersection of the airport's two runways. It blocked all incoming and outgoing traffic until 11:30 am, local time (01:30 GMT), Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said.

"There was a flame that occurred from the engine. That is when the pilot discovered something was not right,'' Gillett said. "Some debris fell out of the plane, causing spotfires ... but the plane was not ablaze.''

Bill Ho, one of the passengers of Vietnam Airlines, spotted the flames through his window.

"I shouted out 'There are flames coming out of the engine','' he told Herald Sun.

"We are very lucky the pilot realised. He hit the brakes real hard and we heard a big bang - it sounded like a tyre had blown up. There was smoke everywhere.''

"I was quite shocked ... I will be a bit nervous flying now. But we were lucky we were not in the air when it happened.''

Another passenger identified only as Peter told ABC the plane was three-quarters full of passengers.

"The plane aborted take-off, I know it all happens very quickly but it all of a sudden stopped," Peter told ABC Melbourne. "We were taking off and it just stopped."

He said it was engine 2 that failed.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis / )
The main entrance of the old Athens' airport at Hellenikon suburb, southwest of Athens May 5, 2014. Greece's return from bond market exile and signs of economic revival has attracted big international investors to its privatisation drive, giving the country more options for raising cash to cut debts, the chief executive of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) Ioannis Emiris told Reuters in an interview. Since its 2010 bailout, Athens has signed privatisation deals worth 4.9 billion euros. It raised upfront about 2.7 billion euros in cash, with more than half of that amount coming from gambling sales and licenses. The money raised so far is less than an initial target for 22 billion euros in 2010-2013 set by the EU/IMF. The biggest deals have been the sale of gambling firm OPAP and a landmark, 915-million-euro property lease at the site of the former Athens airport. To match Interview GREECE-PRIVATISATION/ Picture taken May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
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