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Engine explodes on take-off

Staff Writer
An Air Botswana Jet, A2-ABF with 30 passengers bound for South Africa experienced an engine blast on take-off on Saturday.

Yesterday Civil Aviation Authority chief Major General Jefferson Thokwane would not comment on the incident saying what he says may prejudice the on-going investigations into the case.Eyewitnesses who were in the aircraft told The Monitor that the aircraft had just started taking off at around 1pm, with its front wheels already in the air when they heard a huge blast coming from the left side of the aircraft's engine. The blast was immediately followed by a cloud of smoke, witnesses say.

The pilot, Captain Boral Kereng kept his cool and landed the aircraft before the worst could happen. However, eye witnesses say the incident exposed Air Botswana's disaster management preparedness.Shocked passengers say after the blast no-one communicated with them in the aircraft to calm them down. They say they were also made to wait for more than 10 minutes inside the aircraft which continued to produce a cloud of smoke. Passengers complain that after they disembarked, they also had to wait for

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40 minutes in the open, for a mini bus to come and transport them to the passenger terminal.

The victims The Monitor spoke to say even during the 40 minutes of waiting, no senior personnel at Air Botswana showed up to address them, except the airhostess who also looked panicky. One traumatised passenger even refused to board the mini bus, and had to be picked by her husband, crying and shaking uncontrollably.Civil Aviation Authority chief, Thokwane, arrived at the scene 20 minutes after the blast, in the company of two other officers who started inspecting the aircraft, according to witnesses. He didn't say a word to the passengers though.The plane was later pulled to the aircraft hanger, while the South Africa bound passengers left on another plane after 4pm. Yesterday the Civil Aviation Authority revealed that the Accident Investigations Department at the Ministry of Transport had already started their investigations and that they could not comment on the matter.



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