A passenger jet carrying 168 people came within just meters of plunging into the sea after slipping off an icy runway as it landed at a Turkish airport. The Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 had flown from Ankara and landed at Trabzon on the Black Sea coast late on Saturday. Officials are still investigating the incident.
Everyone on board was evacuated safely, provincial governor Yucel Yavuz said. No injuries were reported. State-run Anadolu news agency said there was panic on board as the plane went out of control. Dramatic images from CNN Turk broadcaster showed the plane dangerously hanging off a cliff several metres from the Black Sea, its wheels stuck in mud, preventing it from sliding further towards the sea.
“We tilted to the side. The front was down while the plane’s rear was up. There was panic, people shouting, screaming,” passenger Fatma Gordu was quoted as saying.
“It’s a miracle we escaped. We could have burned, exploded, flown into the sea,” Gordu told the news agency. “Thank God for this. I feel like I’m going crazy when I think about it.”
In a statement Pegasus Airlines said the plane “had a runway excursion incident” as it landed at Trabzon. Other images from Dogan news agency showed smoke emanating from the trapped plane. Trabzon Gov. Yucel Yavuz said Sunday that investigators were trying to determine why the plane had left the runway and that the airport would be closed until 8 a.m. local time.
Other sources suggest that breaks on the portside have failed causing it to rotate on the runway and skid off towards the muddy sides.
Many commenters on twitter point out that the runway is simply unsafe and poorly constructed with no barriers either side to prevent planes in incidents like these from going off the cliff. Either way, no one was hurt and the plane is insured, but the pilots might have to answer if human error is proven to be the cause.