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Deadly Turkish plane crash probed

Wreck of Turkish Airlines plane at Schiphol
The plane crashed short of the runway where it had been due to land

Investigations are continuing into what caused a Turkish Airlines plane to crash at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, killing nine people and injuring 86.

The plane, en route from Istanbul with 127 passengers and seven crew, crashed short of the runway on Wednesday.

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

Relatives of some of those killed have arrived in Amsterdam on a special Turkish Airlines flight from Turkey.

On Thursday investigators took detailed photographs of the wreckage in a bid to uncover what happened in the flight's final moments.

That so many people were able to walk out was truly remarkable
Fred Sanders
Dutch Safety Board

The flight data and voice recorders from the aircraft have been sent to Paris, where experts have specialist equipment to analyse them.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft came down at 1031 local time (0931 GMT), several hundred yards short of the runway, about three hours after it left Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

It broke into three pieces on impact. Most of those on board survived, although many were hurt.

Fire did not break out and within a minute those capable of walking began staggering out of the ruptured plane.

"It is a real wreck," said Fred Sanders, spokesman for the Dutch Safety Board.

"That so many people were able to walk out was truly remarkable. Some have called it a miracle," he added.

Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim also described the low death toll as a miraculous.

SCHIPHOL ACCIDENTS
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

"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.

Mr Sanders said the investigation at the scene of the crash would take a few days, after which the wreckage would be removed. A preliminary report could be released in weeks, he added.

Dutch health officials said on Thursday that 25 passengers had suffered severe injuries and that another six were in a critical condition. They are being treated at 11 hospitals in the area.

The Turkish transport ministry said 78 Turkish nationals and 56 people of other nationalities had been on board the plane.

Candan Karlitekin, head of Turkish Airlines' board of directors, said records showed the plane had been properly maintained. The pilot, a former Turkish air force officer, was highly experienced, he added.

'Suddenly descended'

Survivor Jihad Alariachi said there had been no warning from the cockpit to brace for landing before the ground loomed up through the mist.

Map: schiphol airport

"We braked really hard, but that's normal in a landing. Then the nose went up. And then we bounced... with the nose aloft," she said.

Another 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."

Witnesses on the ground described seeing the plane appear to glide through the air, having lost all propulsion, before hitting the ground and breaking into three pieces.

Some passengers were able to climb out of the plane before rescue workers arrived.

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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SEE ALSO
Turkish plane crash: Witnesses
25 Feb 09 |  Europe
In pictures: Schiphol plane crash
25 Feb 09 |  In Pictures
Air disasters timeline
25 Feb 09 |  Special Reports
How the Schiphol crash happened
25 Feb 09 |  Europe

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