A plane flying into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on Wednesday skidded off the runway while landing in bad weather and broke apart, killing three people and injuring 179, authorities in Turkey said.
The plane crashed into a field and broke into three pieces.
Passengers were seen scrambling through the fuselage to escape, in what the Transportation Ministry described as a “rough landing”.
The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said the plane failed to “hold onto the runway” and skidded some 50-60 metres before it dropped into the ditch from a height of about 30 metres.
“We are deeply saddened … [But] we are very happy that we escaped a greater accident,” Yerlikaya said, adding that the plane could have burst into flames.
Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca reported early yesterday that three people had died and 179 required care at multiple hospitals.
The Boeing 737 operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had come from the Aegean port city of Izmir, NTV television reported.
The plane was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, the governor said, while Turkish media reports said there were 12 children on board.
Survivor Dogus Bilgic, 24, told Turkish television channel NTV that he fled the smashed plane through a gap near his seat and was one of the first passengers to get out.
“We travelled (on the runway) for some 20 or 30 seconds, then all of a sudden we flew off the runway,” he said while seated in a wheelchair because of a leg injury. “It happened in seconds.”
“I was seated in 25C. I believe the plane broke apart at row 26,” Bilgic recalled, adding that he threw himself out of the plane when he saw the opening.” he said.—Al Jazeera