The Pegasus Airlines plane was arriving from Turkey‘s Aegean province of İzmir at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport when it skidded off the runway during landing, the Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said.
Television footage 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. Dozens of emergency response personnel took passengers out of the plane and carried them away on stretchers.
“According to the information we obtained, the plane skidded off the runway and drifted to the land as a result of the hard landing,” said Turhan.
Istanbul Governor Ali 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.
Yerlikaya also conveyed that a total of 183 people, including 175 passengers, two babies and six crew members, were in the plane.
He said that 139 people were injured and had been referred to 18 different hospitals.
Most of the injured passengers are in good condition, Yerlikaya said.
“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.
Prosecutors in capital Ankara launched an investigation into the incident.
The airport was shut down after the accident, which occurred at around 6:30 p.m. local time (1530 GMT) and flights were being diverted to Istanbul’s main airport.
Turkish Airlines also announced they have temporarily halted all flights to and from the airport.
The accident comes a month after a Pegasus plane with 164 people on board skidded off the runway at the same airport in Istanbul. There were no deaths or injuries in that incident on Jan. 7.
In January 2018, another Boeing 737-800 in the Pegasus fleet slid off a runway at northeastern Turkey’s Trabzon Airport and down a dirt embankment. The plane came to rest in the dirt above the Black Sea with its nose pointed toward the water. None of the 168 passengers and crew members were injured.
Hurriyet Daily News