A Turkish Airlines jet en route from Istanbul crashed a short distance from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport Wednesday, killing nine of the 135 people on board and injuring 84 others.
The Boeing 737-800 plane was attempting to land at around 10:30 a.m. local time when it came down in a muddy field about two miles from Schiphol and broke into three pieces.
Authorities initially thought everyone had survived the impact, but later discovered that there were casualties.
They said that many more people could have died if the plane had not landed on a soft surface and if fire had broken out.
Three of those killed were reportedly crew members working in the cockpit. The other fatalities were among the passengers. Of the 84 people injured, at least six were in critical condition and 25 were seriously wounded.
The cause of the crash is not yet known, but investigators found the plane’s black boxes and have sent them to Paris for analysis. One eyewitness said the plane appeared to be gliding without propulsion shortly before it hit the ground near the A9 motorway outside Amsterdam.
Turkish Airlines officials said that visibility was clear at the time of the crash, and that the plane had no maintenance issues. The captain is reportedly a highly experienced former Air Force pilot with thousands of hours of flying time.
The airline has organized a special flight from Istanbul to bring relatives of the crash victims to Amsterdam.
The Boeing 737-800, a recent version of the best-selling 737 jet, reportedly has a very good safety record. It has only been involved in a couple of minor accidents over the years, none of which were determined to be related to mechanical problems with the plane.
There hadn’t been a serious crash at Schiphol Airport in nearly 15 years. In April of 1994 three people were killed when a KLM flight with 24 people onboard crashed during landing, and in October of 1992 and El Al cargo plane crashed after takeoff, killing 43 people in an apartment building.
By Karen Elowitt for PeterGreenberg.com.
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