Burning tire stops passenger plane

A chartered Boeing MD-82 airplane aborted its takeoff Tuesday in South Africa after its landing gear caught fire when a tire came off its mount, officials said. No one was injured.

The Global Aviation Operations Ltd. flight was attempting to leave O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg when one of its pilots saw the landing gear on fire, said Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, a spokeswoman for the Airports Company South Africa. The pilot halted the takeoff and stopped the plane on one of the runways at South Africa's busiest airport, temporarily closing it. The flight's destination was the southern African nation of Malawi.

Rescuers and emergency workers quickly surrounded the plane which had 136 people on board, officials said.

Global Aviation Operations, which flies charter flights throughout Africa, blamed the fire on a "tire separation." A statement Tuesday from its CEO Ronald Finger said the company would investigate the cause of the tire problem. Those on the flight were flown out on an alternative aircraft, he said.

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