At least three people were killed and more than 170 were injured when a plane slided off the runway at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on January 5, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced. Koca said two of the wounded are currently under intensive medical care but none of them is in critical condition.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said in a new tweet that the accident happened at 6.19 pm local time when a plane of Turkey's Pegasus Airlines with 183 people on board skidded off the runway shortly after landing in rough weather following which it caught fire and split into three. Several people climbed through a large crack in the severed aircraft and escaped onto one of the wings at the rear.
Rescue operation underway
The Governor told reporters earlier at the airport that the Boeing 737 plane could not grasp the runway because of bad weather conditions, and fell toward a road from a height of 30-40 meters.
Press reports said there are still people trapped under the wreckage of the plane and the rescue operation is continuing.
Video footage aired by Turkish TV broadcasters showed that the front part of the aircraft was torn apart, and the plane was split into three parts. The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.
Press reports also said four American and four Chinese citizens were among the passengers of the plane coming from Turkey's western city of Izmir.
The NTV broadcaster noted that one Chinese national was wounded and rushed to a nearby hospital.
The airport was reportedly closed to air traffic until further notice.
The Istanbul public prosecutor has launched an investigation into the incident.
(With agency inputs)