A plane flying into an Istanbul airport has skidded off the runway after landing, crashed and broken apart, injuring at least 139 people, Turkish officials say.
- The plane’s fuselage, as well as a section of it near the tail, broke off
- Footage showed part of plane had caught on fire
- Passengers were seen evacuating through cracks in the plane
Pegasus Airlines aircraft split into three pieces after what Transport Minister Cahit Turhan called a rough landing, adding that there were no fatalities.
The flight was landing at the Sabiha Gokcen airport, but crashed in a field.
Passengers were seen evacuating through cracks in the plane.
A spokeswoman for Pegasus Airlines confirmed the crash but did not provide further details.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said the plane was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members from Turkey’s western province of Izmir.
Governor Yerlikaya said the plane landed in bad weather, failed to “hold onto the runway” and skidded some 50-60 meters before crashing into a ditch from a height of some 30 meters.
He said in a tweet that 139 people were injured and had been taken to 18 hospitals.
“We are deeply saddened … [But] we are very happy that we escaped a greater accident,” he said, adding that the plane could have burst into flames.
The airport was shut down after the incident, which occurred at 6:30pm (local time) and flights were diverted to Istanbul’s main airport.
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.
According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, the plane is a Boeing 737.
Not the first incident
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 January 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.
Dozens of emergency response personnel were seen 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 news agency said was put out by firefighters.
It comes just days after an Air Canada Boeing 767 landed safely at a Madrid airport in Spain after reporting an engine issue and a burst tyre on take-off that forced it to circle for hours to burn fuel.
Last year, another Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off the runway at Trabzon airport in Turkey and ended up halfway down a steep slope into the Black Sea.
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.