26 Feb 2009

Investigation into fatal Turkish plane crash

3:32 pm on 26 February 2009

Investigations are continuing into what caused a Turkish Airlines plane to crash at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, killing nine people and injuring 84.

The plane, en route from Istabul with 127 passengers and seven crew, crashed short of the runway on Wednesday and broke into three pieces.

Three of those killed were members of the crew. Dutch officials said most of the passengers on board were Turkish and 125 people in total had survived.

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

Officials said on Wednesday that they did not yet know what had caused the plane to crash on landing.

The flight data and voice recorders from the aircraft have been found and are being sent for expert analysis.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft came down at 10.31am local time, several hundred metres short of the runway, about three hours after it left Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

"We fell suddenly and stopped," said a passenger who gave only his surname, Mutlucan. "There was a lot of screaming. We crashed and landed in what looked like a field.

"The pilot told us we would be landing in 15 minutes, but seven or eight minutes later we hit the ground."

A Dutch health official said six of those injured were in critical condition. She said another 25 passengers were severely wounded and 24 more had suffered light injuries. They were being treated at 11 hospitals in the area.

The Turkish transport ministry said the flight carried 78 Turkish nationals and 56 people of other nationalities.

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

Weather reports at the time of the crash indicated decent visibility despite misty conditions, and light winds.