Europe

Turkey plane: Three dead, 180 hurt as jet skids off runway in Istanbul

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Media captionRescuers work to free people stuck in the crashed plane

A passenger plane landing at an airport in Istanbul has skidded off the runway and broken into three parts, killing three people and injuring 180 others, officials say.

The Pegasus Airlines jet was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members from Izmir province in the west when it crashed at Sabiha Gokcen airport.

The Boeing 737 was trying to land in heavy tailwinds and rain.

The airport was closed and flights diverted after the accident.

The majority of people on board were Turkish, but local media quoted the airline's records as saying there were 22 foreign passengers from 12 other countries. A small number of children are believed to have been on board.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said: "Unfortunately, the Pegasus Airlines plane couldn't hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60m [164-196ft]."

He said the plane then fell between 30 and 40 metres off the end of the runway.

The airport has since reopened, while prosecutors have opened an investigation into the crash.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Pegasus Airlines jet was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A blaze on the aircraft was put out by firefighters

Video footage showed passengers climbing through one of the large cracks to escape via one of the wings, and dozens of rescuers working around the jet.

Other footage on social media showed a blaze inside the aircraft, which was later put out by firefighters.

Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said authorities had not yet been able to speak to the pilots, a Turkish national and a South Korean, who were believed to have been injured in the accident.

The low-cost Pegasus Airlines has a fleet of 83 aircraft - 47 Boeings and 36 Airbus planes - and has been flying for 20 years.

A Pegasus Boeing 737 coming in from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates skidded off the runway at the same airport on 7 January. There were no casualties but the airport had to be temporarily closed.

And a Pegasus Boeing 737 also skidded off the runway at Trabzon airport in January 2018, plunging down the side of a cliff overlooking the sea. There were no casualties.

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Media captionThe dramatic skidding of a Pegasus Boeing 737 at Trabzon in January 2018

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