A plane carrying 163 people has crashed and broken in two after landing in rainy conditions at Guyana’s main airport, causing several injuries but no deaths.
The Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737-800 flight from New York was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members to the Cheddi Jagen International airport in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.
Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo said the plane, which had earlier made a stop in Trinidad, crashed on the runway, just stopping near a 61 metre ravine, which could have resulted in dozens of deaths.
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.
Geeta Ramsingh, a US citizen who escaped with bruises to her knees, said passengers had just started to applaud the touchdown “when it turned to screams”.
A woman quoted by Guyana’s Kaieteur News service described hearing a loud sound when the plane landed after which everyone began screaming.
“It was terror,” she said. “I was praying to Jesus.”
Her husband opened the emergency door and passengers began escaping, she added.
The crash took place at 0132 (0532 GMT) local time, according to a statement from Caribbean Airlines.
The Guyanese authorities struggled at first to remove passengers without adequate field lights and other emergency equipment.
“About 100 people received medical attention, with four hospitalised for serious injuries”, said Devant Maharaj, the Trinidad minister of transport, where Caribbean Airlines is based.
He said the company was sending a team to Guyana to help investigate the crash.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Enrico Woolford, a journalist from Guyana, said ”that even though the conditions were wet, the Met office in Guyana are saying the cause of the accident is not just due to the weather”.
Caribbean Airlines, which is based in Trinidad-based airline, is the single largest carrier in the region, operating at least five daily flights.
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