Arua — An Eagle Air plane that crash-landed in Arua District yesterday morning had a "technical problem", according to the air safety regulator.
Asked about the cause of the mishap, senior Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, Ms Jackline Kiyingi, said: "The aircraft had a technical problem on landing and this made it to veer off the runway. But there were no injuries registered." She, however, did not provide specifics of the technical glitch.
Five passengers escaped unhurt, officials said. Witnesses said the plane descended normally, but careered off the dirt runway, plunging into a side gulley.
"I saw the plane landing well, but while it touched the runway, it suddenly swayed off and entered into a hole that was beside the runway. But the passengers were safe," a security officer said on condition of anonymity.
Security operatives from the District Internal Security Organisation, the police and army cordoned off Arua Airfield, blocking journalists and curious onlookers from accessing the place.
Eagle Airline manager Robert Mwanika said none of the passengers who were on a regular Entebbe-Arua flight was hurt.
"The passengers are safe," he said, "But we are waiting for our technical team from Entebbe who are already on their way [to conduct further investigations]."
The airline operates three flights on the Entebbe-Arua route every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Shortly after the accident, the visibly panicky passengers declined to speak to the media. The uniformed pilots could be seen pacing up and down. This is not the first plane mishap in West Nile.
In 2011, a plane carrying UPDF soldiers for operations in Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba park against the Lord's Resistance Army rebels crashed in Okuleamvuku village in Ayivuni Sub-county, Ayivu County shortly after take-off from Arua Airfield.
The Antinov-2 was heading to Nzara UPDF airbase in eastern DRC, ferrying soldiers and food.
A year earlier, a four-seater Cessna C206 plane carrying Uganda Wild Life Authority staff crash landed after lifting off from Openzinzi Airstrip in Adjumani District, injuring four.