SYDNEY – A China Eastern Airlines plane was forced to abort a flight to Shanghai and turn back to Sydney after a technical failure which left a hole in an engine casing.

Flight MU736 took off from Sydney, Australia, to Shanghai, at 8:30pm on Sunday night and was only about an hour into its trip when the fault occurred.

The plane was turned around and landed safely in Sydney, with firefighters called to the tarmac to assist the pilots, a Sydney Airport spokeswoman said.

The Airbus A330 landed safely and there were no reports of injuries.

Photos of a hole in the engine of the Airbus have surfaced on social media and aviation websites.

The general manager of China Eastern Airlines Oceania region, Kathy Zhang, said the plane “encountered an engine problem after take-off”.

“The crew observed the abnormal situation of the left engine and decided to return to Sydney airport immediately,” she said in a statement to the ABC.

The crew advised Airservices they did not need to dump fuel, a method sometimes used to reduce the aircraft’s weight, before landing.

The airline arranged overnight accommodation for passengers and new flights for those on China Eastern or other airlines.

Several passengers said they had heard a loud sound coming from the left engine shortly after take-off.

One passenger told Australia’s Seven News network: “All of a sudden we heard this noise… it kind of smelt like burning”. “I was really scared. Our group was terrified.”

“The returned aircraft is currently under investigation at Sydney airport,” China Eastern said.