Page last updated at 19:02 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Turkish plane crash in Amsterdam


Air traffic control confirms emergency at Schiphol Airport

A Turkish Airlines plane has crashed on landing at Amsterdam's Schiphol international airport, killing nine people and injuring 84, six critically.

The plane, carrying 127 passengers and seven crew, crashed short of the runway near the A9 highway. It broke into three pieces, but did not catch fire.

Three of those killed are crew members. Dutch officials say most of the passengers on board were Turkish.

It remains unclear why the plane, en route from Istanbul, crashed.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft came down at 1031 local time (0931 GMT), several hundred yards (metres) short of the runway. It had left Istanbul's Ataturk Airport at 0622 GMT.

At a news conference in Amsterdam, officials confirmed that all the bodies had been removed from the plane.

27 October 2005: A fire at the airport's detention centre killed 11 people and injured 15
4 April 1994: Three people were killed and 13 seriously injured when a KLM flight carrying 24 people crashed on landing
4 October 1992: An El Al Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into an apartment block after takeoff, killing 43 people

Investigators have found the flight data recorders from the plane. They will be sent for expert analysis.

Emergency services spokeswoman Ineke van der Zande told an earlier news conference that six people were in a critical condition and 25 were severely wounded.

Another 24 passengers had suffered light injuries, she said, with the injuries of another 31 still to be determined.

She said 84 people altogether had been taken using 60 ambulances to 11 hospitals in the surrounding area.

Michel Bezuijen, mayor of the Haarlemmermeer municipality under which Schiphol airport falls, said the passenger list was being studied to establish the nationalities and identities of those on board.

"As far as I know there are no more passengers in the plane," he said. "We cannot say anything about the cause at the moment. The priority... is providing help and care."

Earlier, Candan Karlitekin, head of Turkish Airlines' board of directors, told reporters in Turkey the plane had been properly maintained.

"We have checked the plane's documents and there is no problem concerning maintenance," he is quoted as saying by AP.

Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said it had been "a miracle" that there were not more casualties, AP reports.

"The fact that the plane landed on a soft surface and that there was no fire helped keep the number of fatalities low," he said.

One passenger aboard the plane, Kerem Uzel, told Turkish news channel NTV that the plane's landing had been announced when they were at an altitude of 600m (2,000ft).

"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."

White sheets

Television footage from the scene showed rescue workers laying out white sheets on what appeared to be bodies.

Map: schiphol airport

Relatives of passengers who were waiting at the airport have been taken to a sports hall at a nearby village.

Airport spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said Turkish Airlines had organised a special flight to Schiphol, due to arrive at 1710 GMT, for family members of those on the plane which crashed.

Tomas Friedhoff, a student who was cycling past the scene, told BBC News he had seen the plane appearing to glide through the air, having lost all propulsion, before hitting the ground.

"The plane was nose up and the tail section was at a 45-degree angle. The tail section broke down first, which broke off," he said.

"And seconds after the crash people started exiting through the tail section...

"I saw dozens of people making it out very quickly, and as I was about to dial 911 the first sirens were noticeable, and within five minutes there were 10 or 15 ambulances."

Telecom worker Nikolai van der Smagt, who was driving past the airport moments after the crash, told BBC News he saw the plane lying in three pieces in a field just 60m from the A9 motorway.

He said: "The first people were just getting off the plane and they looked confused. There was a lot of dust, but no fire."

All flights were suspended, but the airport has since re-opened. The A9 motorway remains closed.

The last crash involving a Turkish Airlines plane was in 2003, when at least 65 people died in an accident in eastern Turkey.

Schiphol airport has six runways and one major passenger terminal. In 2007, it handled 47 million passengers, ranking fifth in Europe.

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