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Plane skids off runway in Istanbul, breaks into three

A plane carrying 177 people skidded off the runway at an Istanbul airport, caught fire and split into three after landing in rough weather on Wednesday.

Officials said that no one had lost their lives in the accident, but dozens of people were injured.

Live images broadcast on Turkish television showed several people climbing through a large crack in the severed aircraft and escaping onto one of the wings at the rear of the aircraft.

The Boeing 737 operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had flown into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from the Aegean port city of Izmir, NTV broadcaster reported.

The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Turkey’s largest city.

Fifty-two people were injured and taken to hospital, Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya said in a statement on Twitter, but there were no deaths.

“Efforts to evacuate those affected continue,” he added.

Turkish media said the two pilots, a Turkish national and a South Korean, were seriously hurt.

Private television station NTV showed images of the badly damaged plane and flames inside, which were later put out by firefighters.

The plane had 171 passengers on board and six crew members, the governor said.

Turkish media said there were 12 children among the passengers.

‘Strong landing’

“Some passengers evacuated the plane by themselves but others are stuck inside and our rescuers are working to free them,” Turhan said on CNN-Turk television.

After darkness fell, television footage showed dozens of rescue workers in high-visibility jackets surrounding the plane with flashlights.

Some sprayed water jets onto the severed body of the aircraft, while others could be seen climbing up onto the plane to comb through the cabin.

According to NTV, Turhan said the plane broke after a “strong landing” at Sabiha Gokcen, one of two main international airports in Istanbul.

Prior to the accident, there had been very strong winds and rain in the area.

Flights were being redirected to Istanbul’s main airport from Sabiha Gokcen which lies on the Asian side of Turkey’s commercial hub, NTV said.

The Istanbul public prosecutor has launched an investigation into the incident.

In January 2018, a Pegasus Boeing 737-800 slid down an embankment at Trabzon airport on the Black Sea, and landed just metres from the water with its wheels stuck in thick mud.

After four days, the plane was eventually lifted back onto the runway with engineers using cranes. All 162 passenger and six crew were safely evacuated.

Pegasus, which has been flying for 20 years, has a fleet of 83 aircraft, including 47 Boeings and 36 Airbus planes, according to its website.

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