The left engine of an Air Zimbabwe aircraft departing from OR Tambo International Airport just after 7pm on Sunday night spewed fire shortly after take-off.
Social media was abuzz as Kempton Park residents who heard the loud noises were trying to find out what happened.
The noise could be heard as far as Norkem Park, reports Kempton Express.
Some described the noise as sounding like thunder, while others said it was more like a shooting.
Zimbabwe airliner, Boeing 767, engine on fire. Flight returning to OR Tambo international airport. pic.twitter.com/jWhcr1AnJx
— PigSpotter™ Pty Ltd (@PigSpotter) April 28, 2019
Residents shared on social media how they heard loud bangs and saw what looked like flames or sparks coming from the aircraft’s left engine.
“We even heard it in Norkem Park,” Madeleen Botha wrote on Facebook.
“We’re in Birchleigh and thought it was thunder at first, it was so weird,” said Karen Brink.
Shortly after the noise stopped, smoke could be smelled over Glen Marais. The plane apparently returned safely to OR Tambo International Airport.
PASSENGER AIRCRAFT ENGINE ON FIRE OVER JHB AIRSPACE : JHB. GP. RETURNING TO OR TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. ALL EMERGENCY SERVICES ON STANDBY.
— REZA (@crimeairnetwork) April 28, 2019
Online Zimbabwe publication ZimLive has since tweeted that the plane landed safely in Harare on Sunday night.
Flight UM303 just landed in Harare. We have asked @FlyAirZimbabwe for comment on what's being claimed. What we do know is that this particular plane, Z-WPF, a Boeing 767, first took off from OR Tambo in Joburg and then made a curious turnaround before taking original flight path pic.twitter.com/aJgKs5l3lC
— ZimLive (@zimlive) April 28, 2019
The Z-WPF plane is reportedly the embattled airline’s only functional one, as other planes have been grounded indefinitely for costly inspections that the airline is allegedly not able to afford.
Statement RE: UM462/28/04/19. pic.twitter.com/9PN9i59Qs4
— Air Zimbabwe (@FlyAirZimbabwe) April 28, 2019
The spokesperson of the airline confirmed that investigations were under way.