Cathay Pacific flight makes emergency landing in Alaska

HONG KONG  (AFP) - A Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles made an emergency landing at a military base in Alaska late Wednesday, after smoke was detected on the aircraft.

The flight made a “precautionary diversion” to a US military airport on the Aleutian Islands, the southern Chinese city’s flag carrier said.

“All passengers and crew are safe,” Cathay Pacific said in a statement released late Wednesday, of the 276 passengers and 18 crew onboard flight CX884.

A spokeswoman for the airline told AFP Thursday that the aircraft – along with all passengers and crew – had left the base and arrived in Anchorage, Alaska’s most populous city.

Cathay later said a special “relief flight” left for Anchorage from Hong Kong to assist passengers affected by the diversion.

“Passengers of CX884 were transferred onto this relief flight and departed for Los Angeles,” the airline said in its latest statement released Thursday afternoon, adding that it is expected to land in the American city at around 1130 GMT.

“Our preliminary inspection indicates that an equipment cooling fan below the cabin floor near cargo compartment had failed,” the airline said on its Twitter feed.

“Everyone was in a panic, like, oh my God, this is really happening” said Genevieve Cousineau, a passenger on the flight, according to the South China Morning Post.

Cousineau described it as “the most terrifying moment of my life", the Post said.

“The captain of CX884 made exactly the right decision to divert the flight as a precautionary measure,” said Cathay’s director of service delivery James Ginns.

The Eareckson Military Air Base, located on Shemya Island, was built in 1943 and is approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage.