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1959: Turkish leader involved in fatal crash

Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes has survived an air crash near London that killed 12 people.

Mr Menderes was on his way to the British capital for talks on Cyprus with the British, Greek and Cypriot premiers when his Viscount jet crashed in Jordan's Wood, near Newdigate in Surrey.

Only 10 of the 22 passengers and crew on board the Turkish Government aircraft survived and two were critically injured.

An official from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said it was the worst crash he had seen.

Turkish press secretary Sefik Penmen told an impromptu conference at London Clinic: "The Prime Minister's condition is quite satisfactory and a bulletin will be issued at 1000 tomorrow. He is feeling quite alright, though he is very sorry about what has happened to his friends."

The plane - from Istanbul - was diverted from Gatwick Airport because of fog and was due to arrive at London Airport at 1600 GMT when it went missing off the radar.

First on the scene

Local resident Margaret Bailey, a trained nurse, was one of the first on the scene - three miles along the flight path from Gatwick - shortly after 1700 GMT.

At about that time the plane carrying Greek Prime Minister Constantin Karamanlis landed at Gatwick without incident.

The Turkish jet lost its wings and had its engines torn off as it ploughed 300 yards through the wood and landed upside down with trees embedded in the mangled fuselage and burst into flames.

Three divisions from Surrey Fire Brigade put out the resulting fires although their efforts were hampered by thick fog.

After receiving first aid at Mrs Bailey's farmhouse, 200 yards away, Mr Menderes was taken to hospital in London 90 minutes later.

Other casualties are being treated at hospitals in East Grinstead, Redhill and Dorking.

The Queen and Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus have sent messages of sympathy.

In Context
The Cyprus talks for the next day were cancelled.

The Turkish Embassy released a statement to say they did not think there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding the crash.

From his hospital bed, two days later, Mr Menderes initialled a new Cyprus peace agreement made between the Greek, British and Cypriot leaders.

He visited the site of the crash on 25 February and offered the families who had rescued him complementary holidays in Turkey.

When the prime minister returned home the next day he received a rapturous welcome from 10,000 Turkish people.


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