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Passengers recount chaos after Myanmar jet crash


An unidentified injured man who was on an Air Bagan passenger place when it made an emergency landing Tuesday, talks to journalists in Heho, Shan state, Myanmar.

YANGON, Myanmar - When the "roller coaster" ride came to a halt, passengers aboard an Air Bagan jet that missed the runway and landed in a rice paddy field first felt relief -- until they saw the flames.

"We knew straight away we didn't have much time to get out," 31-year-old Australian advertising executive Anna Bartsch told The Associated Press in an interview at a hotel on Wednesday. 

The Fokker 100 jet missed the runway at Heho airport in Shan state in heavy fog and crashed. A Myanmar citizen on a motorcycle was killed when he was hit by the plane and a tour guide aboard the plane also died, according to MRTV state television. Eleven people were reported injured.

The plane was reported to be carrying 71 people, including 48 foreigners. 

"We felt the first bump, then a few big bumps and then (started) sliding very fast," Bartsch told the AP. Her boyfriend, Stuart Benson, described the landing to AP like "a roller coaster" ride.

After the jet slid to a stop, flames erupted and passengers rushed to the front door, which had to be forced open, Bartsch told the AP.

"We didn't know then that the wings had come off," Bartsch said.

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Bartsch told the AP that the pilot and co-pilot had bloodied faces and other people had serious burns.

"It's amazing that the injuries were not more serious," she said.

Air Bagan is one of five airlines operating domestic routes in Myanmar. Owned by Tay Za, a local tycoon blacklisted by the United States for his alleged links to former military regime, Air Bagan was the country's first privately run carrier when it was established in 2004. 

In 2008, one of its planes overshot a provincial airport's runway and crashed, causing many injuries but no deaths, the AP said. After this crash, it now has four ATR turboprops and another Fokker 100.

"We deeply apologize to all our passengers and to their family members," the airline's managing director Htoo Thet Htwe told the news conference. All passengers were paid $2,300, he said.

This article includes reporting by Reuters.

Stringer / Reuters

Soldiers stand at the crash site of a Air Bagan plane in Heho, Myanmar, on Tuesday.

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