WATCH: Saudi football team capture moment Russian plane’s wing catches fire
Saudi Arabia’s national airline has denied any affiliation with the Russian plane which caught fire carrying the kingdom's national team on Monday.
The soccer team landed safely in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, after one of the engines on the plane carrying the players to a World Cup match appeared to catch fire.
A spokesman for airline Rossiya said the fault that developed was due to a bird strike. The team were travelling on a Rossiya Airbus A319 from St Petersburg to Rostov-on-Don, where they are due to play their second Group A match against Uruguay on Wednesday.
As it came in to land, the plane “suffered a technical fault with one of its engines, with a bird getting caught seen as the preliminary cause,” a Rossiya airlines spokesman said. Reports that of a fire in one of the engines were incorrect, the spokesman added.
“Nothing threatened the safety of the passengers. The airline’s landing took place in a routine fashion. No warning was sounded during the landing.”
Videos shared on social media showed an aircraft that posters identified as the Saudi team’s plane with its wing on fire while it was in the air.
The footage, which Reuters was unable to verify independently, was shared by civil aviation monitoring website Airlive.net, which said the fire broke out on the approach to Rostov airport. The Saudi federation released photographs of the players smiling and looking calm as they boarded a bus for the Mercure Hotel in central Rostov.
“All the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines... and now they’re heading to their residence safely,” it said in a statement on Twitter.
The team, who are making their first appearance at the World Cup since 2006, suffered the biggest defeat in the tournament so far when they were thrashed 5-0 by hosts Russia in the opening game in Moscow on Thursday.