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A New Zealander aboard an Emirates flight to Dubai forced to turn back to Sydney has described "two or three metre flames" coming from the engine of the A380 when its engine exploded last night.
Emirates flight EK413 was forced to turn around after it suffered an "engine fault" at 10,000 feet, about 20 minutes after leaving Sydney for Dubai, news.com.au reported.
Aucklander John Fothergill, 49, told news.com.au he saw a "flash" before the plane started to shake.
"I thought it could have been lightning but then we saw flames come out of the engine. The whole interior of the A380 lit up.
"You'd have to say there were two or three metre flames. (The) explosion shook the plane, there was a bigger judder."
Mr Fothergill's wife, Dr Amal Aburawi, questioned the response of staff on the flight.
"The staff panicked more than the passengers," she told news.com.au. "Everyone was running left and right (with) no-one knowing what's happened."
The plane dumped fuel and turned around, landing back at Sydney Airport about 11.30pm local time.
Emirates said an engine fault was responsible for the incident.
Fairfax motoring journalist Matt Campbell was also aboard the flight. He had heard the incident may have been caused by bird strike.
"I didn't see flames but the flash that I saw would be consistent with an engine exploding," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"It was a bright orange light, I didn't see it for more than a split second, but it was still a very scary sight."