Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Turkish airliner crash lands at Amsterdam

Another teriible day for avation in Europe, A Turkish Airlines aircraft has crashed upon landing at Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport.

The plane, with 128 passengers and 7 crew, crashed short of the runway near the A9 highway. Hitting the land hard, it broke into three pieces, but rather miraculously, it did not catch fire.

Witnesses spoke of seeing at least 20 passengers walking from the wreckage of Flight 1951. So far, officials are unclear why the plane, en route from Istanbul, crashed. There were conflicting reports initially about the number of dead, but at a press conference at Schiphol a couple of hours after the crash, the airport director confirmed that nine people had lost their lives in the accident.

Schipol is a fairly safe airport, the last accident or major incident at the airport was on 4 April 1994 when 3 people were killed and 13 seriously injured when a KLM flight carrying 24 people crashed, also on it's landing. Before that it was October 1992 when An El Al Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into an apartment block shortly after takeoff, that killed 47 people, mainly on the ground. The main Dutch airport handles 47 million passengers a year and has 6 runways and is the main hub of KLM.

Today's incident happened at 1031 local time 0931 GMT, 25 of those hurt are, it's been said, to be seriously injured. Meanwhile in Turkey, Candan Karlitekin, head of Turkish Airlines' board of directors, said that visibility had been good at the time of landing and they had checked the planes record and there were no problems concerning maintenance

One passenger aboard the plane, Kerem Uzel, told Turkish news channel NTV that the plane's landing had been announced when they were at 2000feet, "We suddenly descended a great distance as if the plane fell into turbulence. The plane's tail hit the ground... It slid from the side of the motorway into the field."

The aircraft came came down a couple of hundred metres short of a runway, in normal weather conditions. Another eyewitness, whom was cycling nearby said the aircraft seemed to glide through the air, having lost all propulsion, before it hit the ground "The plane was nose up and the tail section was at a 45-degree angle. The tail section broke down first, which broke off. And seconds after the crash people started exiting through the tail section" The student added "I saw dozens of people making it out very quickly, and as I was about to dial 911 when the first sirens were noticeable, and within five minutes there were 10 or 15 ambulances."

Other witnesses have said "I saw the plane lying there in three pieces," Nikolai van der Smagt, a telecoms employee added "The first people were just getting off the plane and they looked confused. There was a lot a dust, but no fire."

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft left Istanbul's Ataturk Airport at 0822 local time, 0622 GMT on a regular scheduled flight. The last serious incident involving a Turkish Airlines plane was back in 2003 which claimed the lives of at least 65 people in eastern Turkey.

More news later.

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