A plane has cracked and split into three pieces during a terrifying attempted landing in Turkey.
Speaking near the site of the wreckage at the Istanbul airport on Thursday morning (Australian time), the city’s governor confirmed 120 people had been injured and one person remained trapped. Incredibly, nobody died.
“The plane could not hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60 metres,” Ali Yerlikaya said.
The Boeing 737, operated by the country’s major budget airline Pegasus, was flying into Sabiha Gökçen Airport during heavy rain when it appeared to skid off the wet tarmac into rough ground.
Adding to the terror of those on board, the fuselage then snapped into pieces and briefly caught fire.
It’s the second time this year that a Pegasus-operated plane has overshot the runway at that airport.
On January 7, a Pegasus 737-800 aircraft skidded off the runway during wet and windy weather, Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported. No one was injured during that ordeal.
Incredible pictures from the scene of the latest crash show the jet ripped apart such that the innards of the fuselage are exposed.
How and why the jet could crack and split in such a way will be a key focus of the investigation.
Turkish Transport Minister Cahit Turhan said the plane was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members from Turkey’s western province of Izmir.
Pegasus Airlines confirmed the latest crash but did not provide details on the circumstances or cause.
“The Pegasus Airlines flight PC2193, on a TC-IZK registered aircraft, flying from Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport…experienced a runway excursion after landing at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport,” the airline said in a statement.
“There have been no fatalities, and our injured passengers have been taken to hospital.
“We will continue to provide further information with regards to the incident.”
Earlier footage showed part of the exterior of the plane had caught on fire. It was quickly extinguished.
Evacuees emerged from the wreckage, some through cracks in the jet. Initial reports suggest 52 people were wounded and rushed to hospital. That number was upgraded to 120.
Turkish media is reporting that the two pilots are among the seriously injured.
Social media videos show other wounded people bloody but conscious and able to walk.
Local media reported weather conditions in Istanbul, a major tourism and business hub, had included strong south westerly winds and rainfall prior to the crash.
It’s not the first time a Pegasus jet has made headlines after a runway mishap.
In January 2018, a Pegasus Boeing 737-800 slid down an embankment near Trabzon Airport and stopped just metres from the water of the Black Sea.
All 162 people onboard were safely evacuated but the plane remained stuck in the mud for four days.