Three passengers have been killed and many others injured after a Boeing 737 aircraft operated by budget-carrier Pegasus Airlines skidded off the runway while attempting to land in inclement weather at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on Wednesday, reports Al Jazeera.
The aircraft was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members from the Aegean port city of Izmir according to NTV television, the Al Jazeera report states, when it was accosted by heavy winds and rain. The plane skidded off the runway where it crashed in a field, its fuselage splitting into three pieces.
According to a report on the incident in The Guardian, Governor of Istanbul Ali Yerlikaya stated to media gathered at the airport: “The plane could not hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60 metres.” Video footage of the incident showed the aircraft, after landing, skidding off the wet tarmac at the end of the runway and down a drop of roughly 30-40 metres where it broke apart.
Al Jazeera reports that Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca confirmed early Thursday that three passengers had died, while 179 were being treated at multiple hospitals. Its coverage also states that: ‘The accident comes a month after a Pegasus plane with 164 people on board skidded off the runway at the same airport on January 7. There were no injuries on that occasion.’
The Guardian also reports that, in addition to the plane’s fuselage splitting into three pieces, an additional section near the tail of the aircraft also came apart. As emergency crews arrived on-site, passengers were being removed from the plane and taken away on stretchers. Passengers were also ‘seen scrambling through the fuselage to escape’, states Al Jazeera.
Governor Yerlikaya is also quoted by Al Jazeera in a statement saying: “”We are deeply saddened … [But] we are very happy that we escaped a greater accident,” adding that the plane could have burst into flames.”
An investigation into the incident has been opened.