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Plane crash in Istanbul: 179 passengers injured and 3 claimed to be dead as Pegasus, Boeing 737 crashes

Rescue members evacuate an injured person from the wreckage of a plane after it skidded off the runway at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport, in Istanbul, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.Rescue members evacuate an injured person from the wreckage of a plane after it skidded off the runway at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport, in Istanbul, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Emrah Gurel/AP

Earlier this week, a plane flying into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport skidded off the runway while landing in bad weather and broke apart, claiming the lives of three people and injuring another 179 passengers who were on board.

The plane crashed into a field and snapped into three pieces following a rough landing. Passengers were seen sprinting through the fuselage to escape, the Transportation Ministry described.

The plane was supposedly afflicted by strong winds and heavy rain pouring in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

The Governor of Istanbul Mr Ali Yerlikaya said the plane failed to hold onto the runway and slid about 50-60 metres (54-64 yards) before it plunged into the ditch from a about 30 metres of height (98 feet). Furthermore, the Governor Yerlikaya said, “We are deeply saddened … But we are very happy that we escaped a greater accident,” adding that the plane could have burst into flames.

Turkey’s Minister of Health Mr Fahrettin Koca reported early on Thursday that three passengers had died and 179 injured, required care at multiple hospitals. The injured included the plane’s two pilots, who were in critical condition.

The Boeing 737 is operated by a Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had come from the Aegean port city of Izmir. The plane was said to be carrying 177 passengers including 12 children and 6 crew members.

A survivor of the crash Mr Dogus Bilgic told the Turkish television channel NTV that he fled the hammered plane through a small opening 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” he added.

He was seated in 25C. The plane broke apart at row 26, adding that he threw himself out of the plane when he saw the opening. The front part of the plane was in a terrible state. It was completely broken apart he said. As other passengers emerged from the wreckage, Bilgic said he helped two or three to the ground, by carrying them out of the wreckage as the passengers were not doing as well as the others who got out.

The plane was badly damaged and the flames inside were later put out by firefighters.

Two accidents in two months

Pegasus is a privately-owned, low-cost carrier based in Istanbul that flies 97 routes, that flies mostly within Turkey and to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. This incident takes place after a period of four weeks, another Pegasus plane which was carrying 164 people on board skidded off the runway at the same airport in the first week of January. There were no injuries reported on that occasion.

Pegasus Airline is 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. There will be serious questions asked now that this airline has endured its second runway mishap in just four weeks.  

Dozens of rescue crew members gathered around the fuselage, which includes the cockpit, which had flipped over. The plane was a 11 year ole Boeing 737, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24. Prosecutors opened an investigation of the accident, the agency said.

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