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Tragedy averted as Kuwait-bound flight lands in Saudi
Panic, chaos as sandstorm hits Kuwait airport
By Chidi Emmanuel
KUWAIT: The Kuwait Airport came to a standstill for some hours yesterday after the airport’s navigation systems stopped working due the sandstorm that hit Kuwait in early hours. It was a chaotic scene at the airport as passengers scrambled for information about their flights. Some flights were cancelled while many were rescheduled. Flights were also diverted to nearby countries due to the problem. According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), six flights were cancelled and ten others were rescheduled. Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), German Lufthansa, Jazeera Airways, Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways and Pakistan International Airlines Corporation flights were affected. Lufthansa Kuwait-bound flight from Frankfurt was diverted to Al-Dammam airport in Saudi Arabia. There was a commotion in the plane when the aircraft failed to land at the Kuwait airport.
The environment was tensed as passengers scrambled for information. “There was a landing system problem at the Kuwait airport. The visibility is very low and the lights were not working. We cannot continue to hover around in the air. Kuwaiti authorities said it may take few hours to fix the problem. We will be diverting to Saudi Arabia for now as we wait for more information from the Kuwait airport authorities,” the Lufthansa pilot said in a radio announcement. He urged everyone not to panic and called for calm. The problem became multifaceted at the Dammam airport in Saudi Arabia as the passengers waited for hours. The second announcement came, “the aircraft developed an engine problem due to the sudden jerking movements. One of the engines has developed some problems, and our engineers are trying to fix the problems.
Also, we ran out of fuel and needed to refuel urgently,” he added. When asked why the passengers are being kept on the tarmac for hours, he said that the Saudi authorities refused to allow anyone inside the airport. There was an uneasy calm in the aircraft as passengers tried to digest the information they received. “Actually I thought the plane has been hijacked and diverted. I was so scared. It was a horrible experience,” Imma one the passengers in the business class said. “It was a complicated situation. From low visibility to landing system problem and then to engine problem, this was a fright of my life. I think God just saved us from a mishap. The problem was not only navigation system failure, our aircraft had problems in the engine too,” Stan, one of the passengers said.