Malaysia Airlines plane struck by ground vehicle

Malaysia Airlines aircrafts taxi on the runway at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur May 13, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said one of its planes was grounded on Thursday, May 15, 2014, after a service vehicle struck the
Malaysia Airlines aircrafts taxi on the runway at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur May 13, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said one of its planes was grounded on Thursday, May 15, 2014, after a service vehicle struck the aircraft's belly, the latest incident to dent the carrier's image after the disappearance of flight MH370. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia Airlines said one of its planes was grounded Thursday after a service vehicle struck the aircraft's belly, the latest incident to dent the carrier's image after the disappearance of flight MH370.

The airline said the passengers on the Myanmar-bound plane were put on a later flight while a "thorough check" was being conducted on the Boeing 737-800.

The vehicle hit the underside of the aircraft when it was on the ground at Kuala Lumpur International airport, it added.

"Our engineers were on site to assess the damage. The preliminary assessment showed no immediate risk to the structure of the aircraft, however the grounding of the aircraft was necessary to conduct a thorough check," said Izham Ismail, Malaysia Airlines operations director.

Passenger safety "remains paramount", he said.

MH370 disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. An extensive search in the Indian Ocean has found no trace of the plane.

The incident has ravaged the carrier's worldwide image and especially hurt bookings in the lucrative and previously growing China market.

Two-thirds of those on board MH370 were Chinese and the crisis has triggered fierce criticism in China of the airline and Malaysia's government.

Among other incidents, in April a Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 people aboard made an emergency turnback to Kuala Lumpur after it was discovered that a tyre had burst on take-off.