An Emirates Airline aircraft arriving from India with 300 passengers and crew on board caught fire after it crash landed at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday.
Dubai's Civil Aviation Authority later announced the death of a firefighter while dealing with the fire, saying his work helped to save the lives of others. Photos on social media showed a plane on a runway with a plume of smoke coming from it but there were no fatalities and only 13 passengers suffered minor injuries. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
At a press conference, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates, said: "We pay tribute to the firefighter who lost his life fighting the blaze. We thank all teams that dealt with the incident."
He said that the pilot of the plane was an Emirati with 7,000 flight hours experience, adding that evacuation procedures were "executed professionally", with cabin crew the last to leave the plane. He said 13 people were treated for minor injuries.
He said the plane, which had entered service in 2003, had undergone maintenance in 2015. All flights from Dubai International Airport were suspended for a number of hours but resumed at 6.30pm local time with larger aircraft given priority. Emirates announced that a total of 21 flights due to operate on Wednesday had been cancelled.
"Dubai Airports can confirm that all operations (arrivals and departures) at Dubai International have been suspended until further notice following the incident this afternoon involving Emirates airline flight EK521."
Emirates said in a statement that it is "extending full co-operation to authorities and emergency services managing the situation". It added that it expected there to be a eight-hour network-wide delay following the crash.
The airline said that the nationalities of the passengers and crew on board included 226 Indians, 24 British nationals, 6 Americans, and 11 Emiratis. "We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe," the statement said.
A man waiting for relatives who were on the flight told Reuters he had spoken to them by phone. "They said they're safe and alright, but that they felt a great panic as the plane was on fire. I'll be comfortable when I see they are safe."
Another man said his family had also told him they were OK and there had been a problem with the landing gear. "It was actually really terrifying. As we were landing there was smoke coming out in the cabin," passenger Sharon Maryam Sharji said. "People were screaming and we had a very hard landing. We left by going down the emergency slides and as we were leaving on the runway we could see the whole plane catch fire; it was horrifying."
The flight involved was EK521 coming from Thiruvananthapuram, Emirates said, adding that the following flights had been cancelled:
EK386/387: Dubai-Hong Kong-Dubai