Plane skids off runway, breaks apart in Istanbul, 139 injured

The plane, a Boeing 737-86J, split into three pieces after what Yerlikaya said was a drop of around 30 to 40 metres at the end of the wet runway.

Rescue members and firefighters work after a plane skidded off the runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Istanbul, on Wednesday. (AP

A Pegasus Airlines plane flying into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport skidded off the end of the wet runway and broke into three pieces after landing on Wednesday, injuring 139 people, Istanbul’s Governor said.

Ali Yerlikaya said the plane was carrying 177 passengers and six crew from the western province of Izmir. Emergency response teams took the wounded to 18 hospitals in the area, he said, and broadcaster NTV reported that both pilots were critically injured.

“The plane could not hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60 metres,” Yerlikaya told reporters at the airport, adding that emergency teams were trying to rescue the last wounded passenger.

The plane, a Boeing 737-86J, split into three pieces after what Yerlikaya said was a drop of around 30 to 40 metres at the end of the wet runway. Footage showed the plane landing and continuing at a high speed off the runway.

Transport Minister Cahit Turhan said flights waiting to land in Sabiha Gokcen had been diverted to Istanbul Airport.

Pegasus said in a statement that the plane had gone off the runway and that passengers were being evacuated. A spokeswoman for the company did not provide further details.

NTV reported that the plane had attempted to land in heavy tail-winds despite the previous two flights holding off due to the wind.

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.

Earlier footage showed part of the exterior of the plane had caught on fire, which state media said was extinguished by firefighters at the scene.

Turkish Airlines said it had cancelled all its flight in and out of Sabiha Gokcen for the day.