Cargo plane catches fire after take-off; debris fall over Dutch town, 2 injured

Two people were injured after pieces of cargo plane broke off and fell from the sky on the Netherlands town of Meerssen, authorities said.

Pieces fell after the Boeing 747 cargo plane experienced an engine fire shortly after taking off from Maastricht, according to the Dutch regional safety inspector (Veiligheidsregio) and Maastricht Aachen Airport (MAA).

The Boeing 747-400 freighter plane was bound for JFK Airport in New York City, according to Longtail Aviation, the charter airline service that owns the plane.

The plane’s crew noticed an engine issue shortly after takeoff, Longtail Aviation said. The crew “followed correct procedures to investigate the problem,” the airline said.

“Resulting from this, the decision was made, with air traffic approval, to divert to Liège Airport, Belgium, where it landed safely,” the airline said.

“Our flight crew dealt with this situation professionally and in accordance with the correct aviation standards, resulting in a safe and uneventful landing,” said Martin Amick, accountable manager for Longtail Aviation. “We are now in the process of working closely with the Dutch, Belgian, Bermuda and UK authorities to understand the cause of this incident.”

As a result of the engine problems, metal parts fell down in Meerssen in the Sint Josephstraat area, the Veiligheidsregio said.

Two people were slightly injured. One of them was taken to a hospital, the safety inspector said. Several cars and houses were also damaged, the safety inspector added.

MAA said in a statement that the plane was carrying “general cargo and pharmaceuticals on board.”

“A few seconds after the plane took off, air traffic control noted an engine fire and informed the pilots.

They then switched off the engine concerned and sent out an emergency signal,” MAA said.

MAA said the pilot chose to land at Liège due to its longer runway, which provided the plane with more space to land safely.