Plane crashes at Guyana airport
Published 30/07/2011 | 17:32
A Caribbean Airlines jet flying from New York has crashed and broken in two while landing in Guyana with 163 people aboard, causing several injuries but no deaths.
The Boeing 737-800 apparently overshot the 7,400ft runway at Cheddi Jagan International Airport in rainy weather. It barely missed a 200ft ravine that could have resulted in dozens of deaths, President Bharrat Jagdeo said.
"We are very, very grateful that more people were not injured," he said as authorities closed the airport, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and delaying dozens of flights. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
Authorities struggled at first to remove passengers without adequate field lights and other emergency equipment. About 100 people received medical attention, with four taken to hospital with serious injuries, said Devant Maharaj, transportation minister in Trinidad, where Caribbean Airlines is based.
He said the company is sending a team to Guyana to help investigate the crash. No further details were available. Mr Maharaj spoke at a press conference in Trinidad and took no questions, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Among the injured was Geeta Ramsingh, 41, of Philadelphia, who said passengers had just started to applaud the touchdown "when it turned to screams", she said, pointing to bruises on her knees. She said she hopped on to the wing and then on to the dirt road outside the runway fence.
"I am upset that no one came to rescue us in the dark, but a taxi driver appeared from nowhere and charged me 20 dollars to take me to the terminal. I had to pay, but in times of emergencies, you don't charge people for a ride," she said, sitting on a chair in the arrival area surrounded by relatives. She was returning to her native country for only the second time in 30 years.
Adis Cambridge, 42, of Guyana, said she felt the thump of a hard landing but did not think much of it until seconds later. "I realised that everything was on top of me, people and bags. I was the second to last person to get off that plane in the dark," she said, surrounded by her two young children who had come to the airport to meet her after a brief holiday in the US
"I hit my head on the roof. It was so scary," she said as she described hopping on to the wing and then jumping down to the dirt road below as crews with torches and beams from fire engines searched for passengers.
The plane had left New York and made a stop in Trinidad before landing in Guyana. The airline said it was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members.