Category: World / February 19, 2013 3:46 PM EST
A passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing Monday at an airport in northeast China's city of Harbin shortly after it took off because the plane's left engine cover fell off, according to a statement from the jet's airline.
The flight -- China Southern Airline's CZ 3624 -- departed from the Harbin Taiping International Airport in Heilongjiang Province at 08:30 Monday and was scheduled to arrive in Guangzhou of south China's Guangdong Province at around 12:45.
However, according to a witness, shortly after the jet took off, a passenger sitting near the emergency exit reported that the plane's left engine's cowling came off and the engine started to make strange noises.
Stewards came out to calm the passengers while the jet turned back and started circling. The airline explained the circling was to consume the 10 tons of fuel loaded on the plane so as to land safely.
After more than an hour of circling, which was later described by many passengers as "the hour of horror," the jet made a successful emergency landing at 09:52 at the Harbin airport.
"It was really thrilling, as if you went through a life-death test. Many thoughts entered my mind at that time," said a passenger.
The China Southern Airlines then sent another plane to help transport the stranded passengers, which departed at 11:03. The passengers safely arrived at the Guangzhou Baiyun Airport at around 15:30.
Although the company has refused to reveal what type of aircraft was involved, local media have reported it was an Airbus A320.
(Video Source: Reuters)