Spectacular accident Wednesday 5th February 2020 in Istanbul: a Turkish airliner with more than 180 people on board left the runway and broke up into three parts.
A Turkish airliner with more than 180 people on board broke up after leaving the runway when it landed in Istanbul on Wednesday 5th February 2020, a spectacular accident that left three people dead and dozens injured.
The fuselage of the aircraft, a Boeing 737 of the Turkish private company Pegasus, broke in three and caught fire after a runway excursion at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, located on the Asian side of Istanbul, according to the images broadcast by the CNN-Türk channel.
— CNN TÜRK (@cnnturk) February 6, 2020
The plane, coming from the city of Izmir, in the west of Turkey, had this accident because of bad weather conditions, according to the governor of Istanbul Ali Yerlikaya.
Three people Killed
Three Turkish nationals were killed and 179 people were injured, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in a press statement.
The aircraft was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, the state-run news agency Anadolu reported, not a total of 177 people, as previously claimed by Turkish authorities.
According to an AFP correspondent on the spot, it broke in two places after leaving the runway.
The front part of the fuselage, comprising the cockpit and the first rows, dissociated from the rest and turned over. A second fracture was visible at the rear third of the aircraft, comprising the last 10 rows and the tail of the aircraft.
Ali Yerlikaya, the governor of Istanbul, said that the plane had “slipped about sixty meters” after leaving the runway, before “falling from a height of 30 to 40 meters” from an embankment.
“The accident could have had more serious consequences,” he said.
According to Turkish media reports, several foreign nationals were on board the plane, but their nationalities were not known overnight.
Neither Pegasus nor the airport authorities could be reached immediately.
Several dozen rescuers were busy around the aircraft in heavy rain, while others moved inside the cabin which they lit with lamps, according to the AFP correspondent.
Ambulances were waiting nearby for the device.
The fire that started after the accident was brought under control by firefighters, Anadolu reported.
An Istanbul prosecutor has opened an investigation to determine the causes of the accident, the agency reported.
Difficult climatic conditions
Sabiha Gökçen Airport has been closed to flights and all planes redirected to Istanbul International Airport, on the European side of the economic capital of Turkey.
Located at the intersection of Europe, Asia, the Near East and Africa, Istanbul is a major air transportation hub.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to make the city the number one airline destination in the world, notably using the Istanbul mega-airport inaugurated in 2018.
But the metropolis of more than 15 million inhabitants is regularly swept by strong winds and driving rain which complicate the task of the pilots.
Weather conditions, which can be extreme in winter, regularly force airport authorities to cancel flights.
Minor incidents, such as runway excursions or collisions with birds, sometimes occur at the city’s two international airports.
In early January, another Pegasus aircraft had runway excursion at Sabiha Gökçen airport. No one was injured in the incident.
In 2018, a plane from the Pegasus company had made a spectacular runway excursion in Trabzon, in the north-east of Turkey, ending its race suspended on the side of a cliff. No one was injured in this accident.