A Qantas flight en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne made an emergency landing in Manila July 25 after a large gaping hole developed on the fuselage of the Boeing 747-400, prompting the plane to lose cabin pressure.

All 346 passengers and 19 crew aboard Qantas Flight 30 were safely deplaned without using emergency slides after landing in Manila, the air carrier and Australian aviation investigators said.

Passengers described hearing a loud bang and seeing debris fly into the cabin before the plane started a controlled descent to a lower altitude and changed course for Manila. Oxygen masks were deployed when the plane, which went into service in 1991, depressurized. Photographs and video of the plane showed a gaping hole in the lower fuselage, just in front of the right wing. "There is a big hole on the right side near the wing," a passenger is quoted as saying, adding that it was 7 1/2 feet to 9 feet in diameter.

The Australian Air Transport Safety Board (AATSB), in a statement on its Web site, described the event as "a serious incident" that took place at 29,000 feet. "The crew was forced to conduct an emergency descent after a section of the fuselage separated and resulted in a rapid decompression of the cabin. The crew descended the aircraft to 10,000 feet in accordance with established procedures and diverted the aircraft to Manila where a safe landing was carried out. Initial information indicates that a section of the fuselage has separated in the area of the forward cargo compartment," the AATSB statement continued.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau dispatched a team of investigators to Manila to try to determine what happened. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent investigators to the Philippines to assist in the probe. The NTSB said the aircraft has a five-foot hole in the cargo area forward of the right wing leading edge and there is also some wing damage.

This article is based on initial news reports.