One of the tyres of a Kabo Airline aircraft with over 400 intending pilgrims burst shortly after landing at the Sultan Abubakar III International Airport, Sokoto, on Friday night.
Tragedy was, however, averted as all the passengers on board the craft with registration number 5N-JRM, from Kano to Saudi Arabia, later evacuated safely.
Governor Saidu Dakingari of Kebbi and his wife, Zainab, were to board the aircraft with 48 other intending pilgrims from the State.
The governor and his wife had since returned to Birnin Kebbi after the incident.
The Special Assistant to Dakingari on Media, Ibrahim Argungu, confirmed the report to NAN in Birnin Kebbi.
“The governor and his wife, Zainab, had since returned to Birnin Kebbi, the state capital’’, Argungu added.
The intending pilgrims and crew members were taken to Giginya Coral Hotel in Sokoto, where they passed the night.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that the Boeing 747 plane landed at the Sokoto airport at about 10 p.m.
Arrangements were later made by the airline to fly in another aircraft from Kano to convey the intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
One of the passengers, Aliyu Abdullahi, a trader at Kwari Market in Kano, told NAN at Giginya Hotel on Saturday that it was a terrifying experience.
“We heard an unusual sound as the plane landed at the Sokoto Airport.’’
Another passenger, Tijjani Jega, told NAN that he was shocked and that passengers prayed fervently. We thank God that a major tragedy was averted.’’
The spokesman for Kabo Airline, Aminu Hamza, confirmed the incident.
He told NAN that the aircraft had problems with one of its tyres shortly after landing at the Sokoto Airport.
“The passengers and crew are hale and hearty. The flight originated from Kano. It came to Sokoto to pick about 48 intending pilgrims from Kebbi before flying straight to Medinah in Saudi Arabia’’, he added.
Mr. Hamza also said that another aircraft on its fleet was on its way from Jeddah to Kano, en route Sokoto, to pick the prospective pilgrims.
“It will arrive at Kano Airport by noon on Saturday, refuel and proceed to Sokoto Airport by 2p,m., then take off to Medinah by evening’’ the spokesman said.
The Acting Manager of the Sokoto Airport, Madu Bukar, while thanking God, said the incident was common in the aviation industry, but that it would be investigated.
He, however, expressed happiness that nobody was injured in the incident.
NAN recalls that the this incident comes barely 48 hours after an Associated Airlines aircraft crashed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on Thursday.
The ill-fated aircraft was conveying the remains of former Gov. Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State from Lagos to Akure for interment.
The plane was carrying 20 passengers and seven crew members when it crashed shortly after take-off.
Thirteen persons lost their lives in the crash.