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Qantas Engine Trouble Sends Springbok Rugby Team Back Home

A Qantas Airways Ltd. plane carrying South Africa’s Springbok rugby team was forced to return to Johannesburg after an engine started overheating.

One of the Boeing 747’s four engines experienced an increase in vibration and temperature about an hour into the flight to Australia, prompting the pilot to shut it down and turn the aircraft back, Qantas said in an e-mailed statement today.

“There was no safety issue with last night’s flight. As safety is Qantas’s number-one priority, the aircraft returned to Johannesburg as a precautionary measure,” Olivia Wirth, a spokeswoman for the Sydney-based carrier, said in a later e-mail statement. “The Boeing 747 has four engines and can safely fly on three engines.”

Springbok Captain John Smit said the plane landed safely after returning to Johannesburg.

“Just had to do an emergency landing,” Smit said in a post on his Twitter account. “We lost an engine after takeoff, but safely landed now.”

Qantas sent a replacement airplane to Johannesburg. The aircraft is scheduled to depart at 11:15 p.m. local time, Wirth said. Flight QR64 had 355 passengers on board, Qantas spokesman Luke Enright said by phone.

“All passengers have been consulted throughout the process and have been accommodated in hotels close to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and provided meals,” Wirth said.

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