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One dead in Turkey plane accident, 157 injured, according to minister



Emergency responders work at the scene of the Istanbul plane accident

One person died and 157 were injured after a passenger plane skidded off the runway at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

The passenger plane, a Boeing 737-86J, split into three pieces and veered onto a patch of grass next to the runway, in what Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan called a "rough landing." One of the wings also caught fire, but the blaze was later extinguished. Passengers had to exit through cracks in the smashed plane.

Three of the injured required surgery and two others were in intensive care, but none of their lives were thought to be in danger, said Koca.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said there were 177 people, including 171 passengers and six staff on board the plane, which was flying back to Istanbul from the western city of Izmir. Emergency response teams took the wounded passengers to 18 different hospitals in the area, he added.

"The plane could not hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60 meters," Yerlikaya told reporters at the airport. Footage showed the plane landing and continuing to skid at a high speed off the runway.

The nose of the plane, belonging to Turkish budget provider Pegasus Airlines, was completely smashed. Broadcaster NTV reported that both pilots had been critically injured in the incident.

Television footage shows serious damage to the fuselage, with passengers seen exiting via one of the wings. The airport has also been shut down, with all flights being redirected to Istanbul's main international airport.

Firefighters were immediately sent to the scene, and evacuations were underway. Emergency personnel were seen taking some passengers out of the plane and carrying them away on stretchers.

In January, all flights were suspended fom Sabiha Gokcen airport after a Pegasus plane skidded off the runway because of bad weather. The plane, which had arrived from Sharjah, was carrying 164 passengers, all of whom were safely evacuated. 

Smooth takeoff, dramatic landing

The Pegasus Airlines flight from Ankara skidded off the coastal runway when it landed at Trabzon airport in northern Turkey on Saturday night. Images showed the plane hanging from the edge of a muddy cliff, with its nose meters from the Black Sea. In a statement, Pegasus said that its aircraft "had a runway excursion incident," but that all passengers and crew were unhurt.

Turkish officials investigate cause of accident

The plane, a Boeing 737-800, nearly plunged into the Black Sea when its wheels got stuck in the muddy slope. Trabzon Governor Yucel Yavuz said investigators were trying to determine what prompted the plane to skid off the runway. Some reports claimed it was most likely caused by a collision between the aircraft and an airborne animal.

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