Malaysia Airlines Flight Forced To Turn Back After Mechanical Issues

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysia Airlines flight heading to India with 166 people aboard made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early Monday after it was forced to turn back when a tire burst upon takeoff, the airline said.

The airline said Flight 192 to Bangalore in southern India landed safely at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 1:56 a.m. (1756 GMT) Monday, about four hours after it departed.

The airline initially said the right landing gear of the Boeing 737-800 "malfunctioned upon takeoff" but later added that the problem was caused by a burst tire.

"This was because one of the tires on the right-hand main landing gear burst during takeoff," the airline said in its latest statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Malaysia Airlines said tire debris was found on the runway, prompting air traffic control to immediately order the pilot to turn back to the airport. Fire rescue services were also deployed to be on standby for the landing.

The airline said all 159 passengers and seven crew members have disembarked from the plane and no one was injured.

Stockholm-based Flightradar24, which tracks air traffic in real time on its website, showed the plane repeatedly circling the airport before making the emergency landing, presumably to burn off fuel and lighten the plane's load before landing.

"They have landed safely -thank God!" acting Transport Minister and Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein tweeted.

Malaysia Airlines is the company whose Flight 370 went missing on March 8. A large international group of search crews are currently scouring the southern Indian Ocean in hopes of finding the plane's wreckage. The plane is presumed lost, and the payout to victims' families from either the Malaysian government or the airline could be expensive.

Posted by: Lindsay Sax