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Survivors tell of 'miracle' escape

Survivors have told of their "miracle" escape after a plane with 131 people on board crashed on a Caribbean resort during a storm - with only one woman dying in the incident.

The Aires airline Boeing 737 hit the ground short of the runway on Colombia's San Andres island on Monday. Amar Fernandez de Barreto, 68, was the only fatality, although 119 people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.

Alvaro Granados, 25, was flying with his wife and two children on the plane. He said: "The pilot informed us that we were going to land in San Andres, we buckled our seat belts, we settled in - and a second later, boom! A big bang. When my wife and I stood and looked behind us we saw that the back of the plane was missing."

Ricardo Ramirez, a civil engineer who was flying with his wife, told Caracol Radio everything seemed fine despite the rain and lightning.

"The plane was coming in perfectly. We were just about to land, everything was under control," he said. The crash "appeared out of nowhere".

Authorities said it happened so quickly that the pilot did not report an emergency to the control tower at Colombia's San Andres Island.

Experts are trying to figure out why the plane hit the ground short of the runway - and how 130 of the people on board survived as the aircraft skidded on its belly with its fuselage fracturing and its landing gear and at least one engine ripping off.

San Andres governor Pedro Gallardo said: "It was a miracle and we have to give thanks to God."

The airline, Aerovias de Integracion Regional SA, said it has about 20 planes, including 10 Boeing 737-700 jets. It said in a Twitter posting that it was "working and investigating with the aeronautical authorities to determine the causes".

Boeing said the wrecked 737-700 jet left the factory in 2003. It was not clear whether Aires was the first operator.


From Belfast Telegraph