The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tyre scare for Buddha
Buddhadeb and Anil: Jet jolt

Calcutta/New Delhi, March 9: One of the tyres of a plane carrying chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and several other CPM politburo members deflated on landing at Delhi airport this evening.

All passengers aboard IC201 from Calcutta are safe. Bengal CPM secretary Anil Biswas, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar ' all politburo members ' were also on the plane.

Mohammad Salim, a party MP who went to Banga Bhavan to meet Bhattacharjee, said: It was not a close shave but it could have been bad.

The chief minister is all right, Salim added.

Bhattacharjee and the other politburo members have gone to Delhi to attend a meeting of the partys highest decision-making body scheduled tomorrow.

The Calcutta-Delhi flight, carrying 145 passengers, left at 5.40 pm and landed in the capital at 8.10. After a smooth landing, when it was taxiing on the runway, the front tyre of the aircraft deflated and it came to a halt, officials of Indian (as Indian Airlines is now called) said.

A step-ladder was taken to the aircraft stranded on the runway and the passengers came down, an official said.

The aircraft, an Airbus, was later towed away from the runway for repairs, but because it was stranded in the middle for a time, some flights got held up.

The official said the passengers were in no danger since it was a deflation of the tyre.

A tyre burst, which happens at the time of landing, is potentially more damaging and there is a risk of the aircraft skidding from the runway, he said.

Calcutta airport sources said no flights from the city to Delhi were delayed by the mishap. Indians late-night flight to Delhi left at 9.30 pm, on schedule, the sources said.

Bhattacharjee will also attend the CPMs central committee meeting over the weekend after Fridays politburo session. He is expected to meet the Prime Minister.

The chief minister appears to be going through an accident-prone patch. Last Saturday, the pistol of one of the security guards at his residence went off by mistake, but did not cause any harm as the bullet hit the pavement. Bhattacharjee was away in Vietnam at the time.

Before that, there was an explosion in front of his house when three youths who had come to attack a rival hurled a bomb while running away.

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