There were no casualties, although its two pilots sustained minor injuries, according to the German airline and the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
The aircraft split into two pieces when it landed at 11.38 in the morning.
“The cause of the incident is being investigated, and one of the two KKIA runways temporarily closed has since been reopened for regular flights,” said GACA spokesman Khaled Al-Khaibari.
He said that landings and take-offs at KKIA were not affected, adding that the pilots, who had used an emergency slide to escape the plane, were being treated at a local hospital.
“We express our thanks to the pilot, who reported the fire in the cargo hold of the aircraft to KKIA ground officials well before landing,” added Al-Khaibari.
Airport officials alerted a rescue team that rushed to the plane immediately after it landed at the airport.
Cargo flight LH8460, a Boeing MD-11, was carrying 80 tons of freight from Frankfurt to Hong Kong, with stopovers in Riyadh and Sharjah.
“An investigation has been launched into the crash. A team of experts from Lufthansa Cargo is on its way to Riyadh,” Lufthansa’s Head of Corporate Communications for the Middle East Christoph Meier told Arab News from Dubai. “Lufthansa was cooperating with the authorities in Riyadh and will do its utmost to help clarify the reasons for the accident.”
Meier added that it was too early to comment on the safety and condition of the plane, claiming that a rescue team was trying to retrieve the aircraft’s flight data recorder.
An eyewitness told Arab News that he saw smoke billowing from the aircraft as it approached the airport. He said airport workers watched in horror as sparks flew from the tail of the plane as it dragged along the runway.
“The whole aircraft then either ripped or fell off,” he said.
An airline official said there was nothing to indicate the plane was too heavy and that the weather was good prior to the crash.
He added that most of the charred aircraft was lying in pieces, while it took a long time for the firefighters to douse the flames at the crash scene.
It is not yet known what type of freight was on the plane or which customers were affected.
Recently, an MD-11 also belonging to Lufthansa was damaged in landing at an airport in Mexico. An inspection later revealed wrinkles in the fuselage skin and a bent nose gear.
Lufthansa Cargo is the cargo airline subsidiary of Lufthansa AG and ranks among the world’s leading cargo carriers.

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