Passengers escape injury in Lithuania plane crash

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VILNIUS, Sep 12 (Reuters) A plane with 52 people aboard crash landed in Lithuania today but no one was hurt, the airport said, in the second such accident this week involving a turboprop of the Scandinavian SAS airline.

The same type of SAS plane, a Canadian DHC-8-400 aircraft crashed on Sunday in Denmark. SAS said that it was grounding these planes and cancelling 112 flights.

Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc also recommended that Q400 aircraft with more than 10,000 landing gear cycles be grounded until an inspection is carried out.

The plane ploughed through the ground with its fuselage and right wing and slid off the runway at Vilnius airport when the crew decided to put down there after noticing in flight that landing gear had failed.

None of the 48 passengers or four crew were injured in the accident, SAS said in a statement.

''The plane was en route from Copenhagen to the western Lithuanian town Palanga when the crew noted the failure of the front and right landing gear,'' said Vilnius airport spokesman Arunas Marcinkevicius.

The crew then decided to land in Vilnius, which has a longer and broader runway.

Emergency crews raced to the scene to evacuate the passengers and crew, but no one was injured, he added.

The plane that crashed on Sunday had 73 people on board. It suffered a landing gear failure in Aalborg in western Denmark, but no one was seriously injured.

Bombardier said it had delivered more than 160 of the aircraft to airlines around the world.

''Until such time as investigations are concluded by the relevant aviation authorities, Bombardier cannot speculate or comment as to the cause of these incidents,'' it said.

The Q400 version of the aircraft can seat between 68 and 78 passengers, depending on configuration.

REUTERS SG HT1532

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