Qantas jet lands with gaping hole

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Qantas Airways Boeing 747-400 made an emergency landing due to a hole in the fuselage &#40;AP&#41;</span></div>
July 25, 2008 7:04:40 PM PDT
A hole the size of a small car in the underside of a Qantas jumbo jet carrying 346 passengers over the South China Sea forced the pilot to make an emergency landing Friday after a rapid descent.

Relieved passengers clapped on board a Qantas flight bound from London to Melbourne. Cell phone video was taken by a passenger.

At the time, the 346 passengers on board didn't know there was a huge tear in the fuselage and part of the plane had ripped away. It caused a quick and frightening drop in cabin pressure that made oxygen masks fall for their use.

"There was an almighty crack and you could hear something happening then the oxygen masks fell down and you start dropping down, ears popping that sort of stuff," said passenger Owen Tudor.

Except for the sound of children crying, passengers wearing oxygen masks seem fairly calm as the pilot changed altitude, plunging 20,000 feet to get where oxygen is not needed.

Debris from lunch being served flew about the cabin as wind whipped through the aircraft as a portion of a ceiling collapsed.

Some passengers were able to see a hole in the floorboards and the cargo below. Marina Scaffidi was sitting apart from her boyfriend.

"I thought maybe he was gone I didn't know. I had no idea and I know there was a hole somewhere but I didn't know what was going on," said Scaffidi.

The plane made an emergency landing in the Philippines, with a seven by nine foot gaping hole just below the cargo compartment.

Federal Transportation Officials said early on that metal fatigue, not terrorism was most likely the cause.

But ABC7 Aviation consultant Ron Wilson says the incident is still suspicious. Wilson note baggage could be seen through the whole and he thinks there might have been an explosion in the luggage container.

"I don't think anyone TSA, airline reps or the FAA should jump to some conclusions and make a decision that it was or was not terrorism," said Wilson.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is also investigating. They say terrorism and explosives will be an aspect of the investigation.


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