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Probe launched into superjumbo fire

An investigation is under way after a London to Sydney superjumbo with 433 passengers on board made an emergency landing after flames were seen pouring from one of its engines.

Frightened passengers spoke of debris from one of the four Rolls-Royce engines piercing the wing of the Airbus A380, the world's biggest aircraft, operated by Australian airline Qantas.

It is the first major safety incident involving the 555-seater double-decker plane which made its first commercial flight in October 2007.

Passenger Lars Sandberg, a DJ from Glasgow, said he was "just happy to be alive" after the plane landed safely back at Singapore airport.

Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines powered the Qantas plane and a company spokesman said a "number of basic precautionary engine checks" were being made. "We will continue to work closely with our customers as the investigation moves forward," he added. "This is at a very early stage and it would be inappropriate to draw any conclusions at this time."

Qantas has grounded its six Airbus A380s but other operators of the giant plane are carrying on with their A380 flights.

Images taken of the jet after the emergency landing revealed that one of its giant engines has been badly damaged. The front half of the engine appeared intact but the rear half was charred and burned with the metal work exposed.

French air accident investigators said it was thought that a section of engine cover had fallen off, adding that it was "a serious incident".

The incident happened just after the plane, QF32 with 26 crew aboard, had taken off from Singapore to Sydney on the last leg of the flight from London.

Another passenger, Matt Hewitt from Cheshire, said some people on board had seen bits of a wing "breaking up" with "parts sticking up and wires hanging out". He added that he had been "a bit frightened" but that he would certainly fly with Qantas again.

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