Number of causalities in Turkish plane crash unclear

25th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Conflicting media reports surrounding the plane crash mean the number of causalities remain unclear.

AMSTERDAM - A Turkish Airlines passenger plane with 143 people on board crashed Wednesday while attempting to land at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, aviation officials said.

Although officials in Turkey said that no one had been killed in the crash, a Dutch television reporter said he had seen four or five body bags while the CNN-Turky news channel said that one person had died and 20 were injured.

"It's a Turkish Airlines (THY) plane which crashed as it was approaching the runway," Melanie Smieder of the airport's press service told AFP. "All air traffic is blocked," she added.

Dutch television showed footage of the plane on the ground, broken into three pieces with emergency crews swarming around the wreck just metres away from what appears to be residential houses.

NOS television reported at least four body bags had been filled after the crash and that about 50 people were seen escaping from the wreck unharmed.

However Turkey's Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said that there had been no fatalities.

"The good news is that there was no loss of life in the accident," Yildirim said in televised remarks.

THY chief executive officer Candan Karlitekin told a news conference in Turkey that there were 127 passengers - including a baby - and seven crew aboard the Boeing 737-800.

"About 20 people were injured, but this is not a definite figure," he said.

Karlitekin explained that the aircraft had crashed about 500 metres from the runway as it was trying to land.

"It was unable to reach the runway and landed in a field," he said, adding that the aircraft had broken into three pieces.

"The fire services and ambulances are on site," she added.

Dutch and Turkish media reports said there 135 passengers and eight crew members on board the aircraft, which left Istanbul at 08:22 am (0622 GMT) for Amsterdam.

One passenger aboard the plane told Turkish television that the plane's tail hit the ground in the landing.

"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 were 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."

An official press conference will be held at the airport at 1200 GMT.

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.

AFP / Expatica

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