Fire alert on BA jet forces landing in Kazakhstan
A LONDON-bound flight carrying hundreds of passengers was diverted to an airport in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan after a fire alert on the plane.
After the aircraft landed safely the warning was discovered to be a false alarm. But the jet - which had started out from Sydney with a Bangkok stop - was unable to take off again from Uralsk because of its weight.
The runway was "unsuitable" for a Boeing 747, a BA spokeswoman said, so three smaller aircraft were dispatched to ferry the 354 people on board to London.
However, because of the lack of suitable exit stairs, the passengers had to leave the plane by first stepping on to the top of a tall airport vehicle.
The spokeswoman added: "We would not have let passengers off until it was safe. It is not ideal compared to what we would normally have, but we were using the resources we had to get people off the aircraft."
After 12 hours, the passengers were all taken to London - one group arriving on Saturday night, the other two landing early yesterday.
The jet was also carrying a cargo of bees, but despite reports that they had caused the emergency by setting off the fire sensors, they were said by the spokeswoman to have been found still in their original container.
She added: "BA10 Bangkok to London diverted into Uralsk airport in Kazakhstan when an emergency fire warning light in the cockpit indicated there could be a fire in the cargo hold.
"On landing it was discovered there was no fire.
"We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience, but safety and security are our top priorities and will not be compromised. All passengers have now returned to the UK."
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