Scores injured as plane skids off Istanbul airport runway

A plane flying into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport has skidded off the runway after landing and crashed, injuring at least 120 people, Turkish authorities said.

The plane crashed into a field and broke into three pieces on Wednesday. Passengers were seen evacuating through cracks in the plane.

The Boeing 737 operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had flown into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from the Aegean port city of Izmir, NTV television reported.

The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey‘s largest city.  

“At the moment, 120 people who were injured have been hospitalised,” said Governor Ali Yerlikaya, adding that most of them were “doing well, aside from one or two people.” There were no deaths.

“Some passengers evacuated the plane by themselves but others are stuck inside and our rescuers are working to free them,” Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said on CNN-Turk television.

Turkey plane crash

The plane was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members, the governor said, while Turkish media reports said there were 12 children on board.

Governor Yerlikaya said the plane “slid some 60 metres” after skidding off the runway, and then “fell about 30-40 metres” down a bank. 

The accident, which he attributed to bad weather, “could have had more serious consequences,” he said.

NTV showed images of the badly damaged plane and flames inside, which were later put out by firefighters.

“Pegasus are known for their low fares but it would be unfair to brand them as unsafe just because they offer very competitive fares,” said aviation specialist Alex Macheras. 

“But there will be serious questions asked now that this airline has suffered what is now its second runway excursion in just four weeks at this point.” 

After darkness fell, television footage showed dozens of rescue workers in high-visibility jackets surrounding the plane with flashlights. 

Some sprayed water jets onto the severed body of the aircraft, while others could be seen climbing up onto the plane to comb through the cabin.

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