1970: Jet’s Engine Explodes, Injuring 23

A Scandinavian Airlines jet with 75 people aboard caught fire and burned when an engine exploded during takeoff.

Credit...International Herald Tribune

ROME, April 19 (UPI) — A Scandinavian Airlines jet bound from Tokyo to Copenhagen with 75 persons aboard caught fire and burned today when an engine exploded during takeoff.

Twenty-three persons were injured. Most of them suffered burns or bruises in fleeing the DC-8 jet. Most seriously injured was a steward, Lief Tomerow, 40, a Dane, who suffered first and second degree burns on the face and fractures of the left leg and wrist while helping passengers to escape.

Rome’s Fiumicino Airport was closed to traffic for four hours. Authorities said that the main runway would be closed for several days until the wreck can be cleared away.

Sant’Eugenio hospital in Rome, where the injured were taken, reported that all were in good condition. The hospital is close to the airport and has a special burn treatment center.

Capt. John Boden said that the number one engine on the left wing exploded as he revved it up for takeoff. He said that fragments of the engine hurtled into the wing and left side of the plane, setting it a fire.

“I shouted ‘fire’ over the loudspeaker. Crew members immediately opened the door and inflated the pneumatic chutes while the co-pilot operated the fire-fighting equipment,” Capt. Boden said.

The plane left Tokyo early yesterday. It stopped in Manila, Karachi and Tehran and was to fly on from Rome to Zurich, Frankfurt and Copenhagen.

It was delayed from 3:55 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. in taking off from Rome because of heavy fog.

Thirty-two fire trucks from the airport and Rome were summoned. The firemen managed to keep the flames from spreading to the right wing, which was full of fuel.

The top of the fuselage burned out and the plane tipped over on its side during the fire.

Thirty-four of the uninjured passengers left for Copenhagen later in the day aboard an SAS jet, which brought company officials here from Copenhagen to investigate the accident.

— The International Herald Tribune, April 20, 1970