Flights resumed on Thursday at an Istanbul airport after a Turkish airliner skidded off a runway, killing three people and injuring 180 others.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport restarted operations at around 0100 GMT though delays and cancellations continued.
On Wednesday evening, a Boeing 737 operated by Pegasus Airline landed from Izmir on Turkey’s western coast during strong winds and heavy rain and overshot the runway.
It skidded about 50 to 60 metres before it dropped into the ditch from a height of about 30 metres, according to the city’s governor, Ali Yerlikaya.
The plane, carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, broke up into three parts upon impact. The plane was 11-years-old, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.
Yerlikaya, speaking early on Thursday, said all those injured were stable and four people had significant injuries, but he didn’t give details on how severe they were.
The passengers included 22 people from 12 countries. Pegasus Airlines changed its logo on Twitter to a blackened version in a sign of mourning, and said its “priority is to support the relatives and friends who have lost loved ones”.
The statement added: “[Our] priority is to support the relatives and friends who have lost loved ones, and we will be doing everything we can to help them in the aftermath of this tragic event, as well as doing our utmost to provide our full support in meeting the needs in hospital of our injured passengers.”
Live images broadcast on Turkish television showed several people climbing through a large crack in the severed aircraft and escaping onto one of the wings at the rear.
The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
NTV showed images of the badly damaged plane and flames inside, which were later put out by firefighters.
After darkness fell, television footage showed dozens of rescue workers in high visibility jackets surrounding the plane with flashlights.
Some sprayed water jets onto the severed body of the aircraft, while others could be seen climbing up onto the plane to comb through the cabin.
According to NTV, Turhan said the plane broke after a “strong landing” at Sabiha Gokcen, one of two main international airports in Istanbul.
The front of the plane including the cockpit was sliced off from the bulk of the fuselage, and another huge fissure separated the rear of the aircraft including the tail.
Sabiha Gokcen, which lies on the Asian side of Turkey’s commercial hub, was closed and flights were being redirected to Istanbul’s main airport.
There had been very strong winds and rain in the area before the incident and poor weather conditions in Istanbul, particularly in winter, often lead to the cancellation of flights.
The Istanbul public prosecutor has launched an investigation into the incident. Also read: Turkish bride-to-be, friends killed as jet crashes on return from UAE bachelorette party
The plane had landed at the airport at 1518 GMT, the private DHA news agency reported.
In January 2018, a Pegasus Boeing 737-800 slid down an embankment at Trabzon airport on the Black Sea, and landed just metres from the water with its wheels stuck in thick mud.
After four days, the plane was eventually lifted back onto the runway with engineers using cranes. All 162 passengers and six crew were safely evacuated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to make Istanbul the world´s top aviation hub and in 2018 opened a new mega-airport in the city of 15 million people.
Pegasus, which has been flying for 20 years, has a fleet of 83 aircraft, including 47 Boeings and 36 Airbus planes, according to its website.—AFP