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Malaysia Airlines jet makes emergency landing in Australia

By AFP | June 12th 2015

A Malaysia Airlines passenger flight made an emergency landing in Melbourne on Friday after its aircraft systems signalled an engine fire, Australian authorities said, with the carrier grounding the jet for inspections.

Flight MH148, which had 300 passengers and crew on board, departed Melbourne Airport at 2:16 pm (0416 GMT) for the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur but had to perform an emergency landing, the airport's spokeswoman told AFP.

"The plane landed safely a couple of minutes before 3pm Australian time this afternoon," she said.

The carrier said in a statement that the Airbus 330 "is being inspected by Malaysia Airlines' engineers and ground personnel".

"Preliminary inspection reveals no physical evidence of fire externally, and further assessment is underway," it said.

"Safety is of the utmost importance to Malaysia Airlines. More information will be released when available."

The turnaround was triggered by the Airbus' aircraft systems indicating an "engine fire", said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), but inspectors found "no signs of fire" immediately after landing.

The ATSB is also leading the search for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that disappeared in March last year.

A spokeswoman for Airservices Australia, which provides air traffic control and aviation rescue firefighting services for Melbourne Airport, said the plane "dumped (its) fuel and returned to land".

Flight tracking website flightradar24 showed the aircraft -- reportedly carrying some 300 people -- circling several times over the suburb of Werribee, 40 kilometres from the airport, before landing.

Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade confirmed that crews were called out to the airport at 2.22 pm but could not provide further information.

The airline has struggled to remain competitive and was hurt by two disasters in 2014 -- the disappearance of MH370 and the suspected shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine by a ground-to-air missile in July.

Its new German chief executive Christoph Mueller said at the start of this month that the carrier was "technically bankrupt" as he axed 6,000 jobs as part of a recovery plan.

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