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KQ flight makes emergency landing in Sudan -witnesses

BRAKES: A KQ plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
BRAKES: A KQ plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

A Kenyan Airways plane with 56 passengers on board made an emergency landing in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after an engine caught fire, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Nobody was hurt, but the incident on Tuesday night left passengers stranded in a country difficult for travel because credit cards do not work in Sudan due to U.S. trade sanctions.

Banks change dollars only at a very unfavourable exchange rate compared with the dominant black market. The Cairo-bound Boeing 737-700 took off in Khartoum after a regular stopover following a flight from Nairobi. But it had to return to the Sudanese capital after 20 minutes, three passengers on board flight KQ 320 told Reuters.

"An engine caught fire and the plane suddenly lost much altitude. The pilot made a sharp turn and returned to Khartoum," said Souhair Mohamed Hawala, an Egyptian passenger. "There was panic on board. People were crying or praying." Other passengers showed what they said were pictures from the damaged wing and engine of the plane.

A Kenyan Airways official said the plane had returned with an unspecified "engine problem" and needed to be repaired in Sudan.

"We don't know the cause yet," he said, adding passengers would be booked on the airline's next flight out of Sudan after 24 hours.

The airline later said in a statement that the flight made an air turnback and landed safely at the same airport at 2136hrs local time due to an engine malfunction.

There were 56 passengers and 7 crew members on-board. "All passengers and crew on-board are safe and have been offered hotel accommodation," the statement said.