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120 Injured as Plane Skids off Istanbul Runway

120 Injured as Plane Skids off Istanbul Runway

Wednesday, 5 February, 2020 - 17:45
First responders work around the broken-up fuselage of the Pegasus Airlines plane that overran the runway and crashed, at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, Turkey February 5, 2020. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

A plane flying into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from Izmir skidded off the runway on Wednesday, crashing into a field and breaking into pieces. Authorities said at least 120 people were injured, and passengers were seen evacuating through the cracks in the plane.

The plane split into three pieces after what Transport Minister Cahit Turhan called a rough landing, adding that there were no fatalities. He said flights waiting to land in Sabiha Gokcen were diverted to Istanbul Airport.

Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya's office said the plane was carrying 177 people, including six crew members.

A spokeswoman for low-cost airline Pegasus confirmed the crash but did not provide further details.

"The accident occurred after (the plane) could not decelerate and rammed into a field from the end of the runway," state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Turhan as saying.

Footage on Turkish media showed the plane’s fuselage, as well as a section of it near the tail, had broken off. Passengers were being led out as the plane lay on a patch of grass next to the runway. Dozens of emergency response personnel were taking passengers out of the plane and carrying them away on stretchers.

Earlier footage showed part of the exterior of the plane had caught on fire, which Anadolu said was put out by firefighters.

Turkish Airlines said it canceled all its flight in and out of Sabiha Gokcen on Wednesday.

According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, the plane is a Boeing 737.

The accident comes a month after another Pegasus plane skidded off the runway in Istanbul at the same airport. There were no deaths or injuries in that incident on Jan. 7.

It is rare for a fuselage to split open while pieces remain largely intact. Planes are designed to absorb impact forces in the bottom of the fuselage to improve the chances that passengers in the cabin above will survive.

In 2013, the tail of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 broke off after the jet hit a seawall during approach to San Francisco International Airport. Three people died, 49 were seriously injured and scores more suffered minor injuries, according to the US accident report.

That same year, a Lion Air Boeing 737 split in two after landing in shallow water short of the runway in Bali, Indonesia. All 101 passengers and seven crew members survived.

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