Turkey plane skids off runway and splits in Istanbul

A passenger plane has skidded off the runway and broken into three pieces on landing at an airport in Istanbul, injuring 139 people, officials say.

The Pegasus Airlines jet was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members from Izmir province in the west when it crashed at Sabiha Gokcen airport.

Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said the Boeing 737 failed to decelerate after a rough landing.

The airport was closed and flights diverted after the accident.

The plane was landing in heavy rain and strong tailwinds, Turkish media reports said.

They said the majority of people on board were Turkish but there were about 20 foreign nationals.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said: “Unfortunately, the Pegasus Airlines plane couldn’t hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60m [164-196ft].”

Video footage showed passengers climbing through one of the large cracks to escape via one of the wings, and dozens of rescue workers working around the jet.

The Pegasus Airlines jet at Sabiha Gokcen airport
The Pegasus Airlines jet was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members

Other footage on social media showed a blaze inside the aircraft, which was later put out by firefighters.

The plane after skidding off the runway
A blaze on the aircraft was put out by firefighters

The two pilots, a Turkish national and a South Korean, were seriously injured, Turkish media said.

Mr Turhan said authorities had not yet been able to speak to the pilots.

Istanbul’s public prosecutor has launched an inquiry.

The low-cost Pegasus Airlines has a fleet of 83 aircraft – 47 Boeings and 36 Airbus planes – and has been flying for 20 years.

A Pegasus Boeing 737 coming in from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates skidded off the runway at the same airport on 7 January. There were no casualties but the airport had to be temporarily closed.

And a Pegasus Boeing 737 also skidded off the runway at Trabzon airport in January 2018, plunging down the side of a cliff overlooking the sea. There were no casualties.

Media captionThe dramatic skidding of a Pegasus Boeing 737 at Trabzon in January 2018

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