9 dead as plane crash-lands in Amsterdam
Nine people were killed and more than 50 injured as the Turkish Airways plane broke into three parts upon crash landing at Schiphol airport.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 at 10.31am (0931 GMT) in fields about half a kilometre short of the main runway, splitting in three before coming to rest near homes next to the busy A9 freeway on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the Dutch capital and largest city.
Ambulances and fire crews dashed to the crash at 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, the local mayor told a press conference that nine people were known to have died - including crew members.
"At this moment, there are ... nine deaths and more than 50 injured," Michel Bezuijen, mayor of Haarlemmermeer, told a press conference, adding that 25 of the wounded were in a serious condition.
Officials in Turkey's transport ministry said around 56 foreigners and 78 Turkish nationals were on board the aircraft which left Istanbul at 08:22 am (0622 GMT) for Amsterdam.
Turkish Airlines has said there were 134 people on board the flight, while the airport and Bezuijen put the figure at 135.
One passenger 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 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."
Family members and friends gathered anxiously at the airport were taken to a nearby sports hall to wait for news and survivors. The wounded were taken to different hospitals.
Airport spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said Turkish Airlines had made available a special flight to Schiphol, which was due to arrive at 1710 GMT, for family members of passengers of the ill-fated Boeing.
According to Dutch television station NOS, some witnesses saw the plane's engines fall off after which it glided the final distance to impact, its tail angled to the ground.
The engines were found some 100 metres from the rest of the wreck. There was no fire and no smoke.
"The tail dropped first, then the plane fell in three pieces," said one witness. "About 15 people walked out of the wreckage almost immediately after impact."
Bezuijen said the cause of the crash was not yet known. Air traffic was frozen immediately after the accident, but partly resumed a few hours later.
Schiphol is Europe's fifth largest airport by passenger numbers.
Nearly 48 million passed through the airport in 2007, according to the last figures issued by the Airports Council International (ACI), an industry body.
Dutch transport minister Camiel Eurlings said Turkish Airlines had met all the security standards demanded by Schiphol.
"The circumstances of this accident will be investigated very closely," he said.
AFP / Expatica