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Emergency Landing Quadruples Size of Remote Alaska Community

A tiny, remote community in Alaska temporarily quadrupled in size after potential engine trouble diverted an international Delta Air Lines flight on Wednesday.

Two Delta jets on Cold Lake's rarely-used tarmac today. Credit: ADN

Two Delta jets on Cold Lake's rarely-used tarmac today. Credit: ADN

The Boeing 767-300ER en route from Tokyo to San Francisco landed at Cold Bay's airport without incident about 6 a.m. after declaring an in-flight emergency, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

The flight deck crew diverted the flight "out of an abundance of caution" after an indicator showed a possible problem with one of the aircraft's engines, said Delta Air Lines spokesman Michael Thomas.

Flight 208 landed safely with 167 passengers and 11 crew members, including pilots and flight attendants, Thomas told the Alaska Daily News.

The runway used for the landing is one of the longest in the state, thanks to Cold Bay's military past as a World War II outpost in the Aleutian Islands campaign.

A few hours after the jet touched down, employees at the nearby Izembek National Wildlife Refuge ferried the stranded passengers to Cold Bay's community center and school in a small armada of pickup trucks, an SUV and a bus from town.

Airline and safety officials offered no immediate explanation for the signal that triggered the emergency landing.

Another plane landed in Cold Bay at 1:30 p.m. to pick up the stranded passengers and departed at 3:38 p.m., according to Delta's flight status Website. The flight, originally scheduled to arrive in San Francisco at 9:40 a.m., was expected to arrive just after 9 p.m., nearly 12 hours later.

The airport at Cold Bay -- a community of about 60 on the Alaska Peninsula about 600 miles southwest of Anchorage -- is a former U.S. Air Force facility built after Japanese soldiers landed on Attu Island in 1942.

The wide runway where the jet landed Wednesday is just more than 10,400 feet.