Nine dead as Turkish plane crash-lands in Amsterdam

26th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

The plane came down in fields around half a kilometre short of the main runway and split in two before coming to rest close to residential homes on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam -- Nine people were killed and more than 50 injured when a Turkish Airways plane broke up on impact as it crash-landed at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Wednesday, officials and passengers said.

The Boeing 737-800 came down in fields around half a kilometre (mile) short of the main runway, splitting in two, before coming to rest close to residential homes on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the Dutch capital and largest city.

Ambulances and fire crews dashed to the crash at what is Europe's fifth busiest airport and soon found themselves filling body bags, according to reporters at the scene.

Although the head of the carrier and Turkey's transport minister initially said there were no fatalities from the crash, the local mayor told a press conference that nine were known to have died.

"At this moment, there is according to our information nine deaths and more than 50 injured," Michel Bezuijen, mayor of the Haarlemmermeer municipality, told a press conference.

Twenty-five of the wounded were in a serious condition, the mayor added.

Turkish Airlines (THY) chief executive officer Candan Karlitekin told a televised press conference in Istanbul that the nine victims also included members of the plane's crew.

"We know that the nine victims were not all passengers," he said.

Karlitekin's comments came after he had earlier said only around 20 people had been injured while Turkey's Transport Minister Binali Yildirim had also announced there had been no loss of life.

Officials in Turkey's transport ministry said around 56 foreigners and 78 Turkish nationals were on board the aircraft, which left Istanbul at 8:22 a.m. (0622 GMT) for Amsterdam.

One passenger aboard the plane told Turkish television that the plane's tail hit the edge of a nearby highway in the landing before ploughing into the fields.

"We were at an altitude of 600 metres (2000 feet) when we heard the announcement that we were landing," Kerem Uzel told the NTV news channel. "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."

Tuncer Mutluhan, the representative of a private Turkish bank in the Netherlands, said it was a matter of seconds between the realisation that the plane was in trouble and the actual landing.

"While we were making a normal landing, it felt like we fell into a void, the plane lost control, suddenly plunged and crashed," he told NTV. "It all happened in three or five seconds ... There was panic after that."

Schiphol is Europe's fifth largest airport by passenger numbers.

Nearly 48 million passengers passed through the airport in 2007, according to the last figures issued by the Airports Council International (ACI), an industry body.

Martine Pauwels/AFP/Expatica

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