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Three dead after Turkish plane skids off runway and splits into multiple pieces

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A plane skidded off the runway Wednesday at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, crashing into a road and breaking into pieces.

A Turkish airliner has skidded off a runway, crashed into a ditch and broken apart while landing in bad weather in Istanbul, killing three people and injuring dozens more.

Passengers had to scramble through the split fuselage to escape following the crash overnight.

The aircraft, operated by low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines, was arriving at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport from the western Turkish city of Izmir with 183 passengers and crew on board when it had what the Transportation Ministry described as a "rough landing".

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said the plane failed to "hold onto the runway" and skidded some 50-60 metres before it dropped into the ditch from a height of about 30 metres.

"We are deeply saddened ... (But) we are very happy that we escaped a greater accident," Mr Yerlikaya said, adding that the plane could have burst into flames.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported early today that three people had died and 179 required care at multiple hospitals.

Rescuers, assisted by an excavator, were seen working on one spot on the wreckage and it was not clear if they were searching for one person who remains unaccounted for.

The airport was shut down after the incident, which occurred at around 6.30pm local time and flights were diverted to Istanbul's main airport.

Survivor Dogus Bilgic, 24, told Turkish television channel NTV that he fled the smashed plane by way of a gap near his seat and was one of the first passengers to get out.

"We travelled (down the runway) for some 20 or 30 seconds, then all of a sudden we flew off the runway," he said while seated in a wheelchair because of a leg injury.

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"It happened in seconds."

"I was seated in 25C. I believe the plane broke apart at row 26," Mr Bilgic recalled, adding that he threw himself out of the plane when he saw the opening and helped two or three other passengers to the ground.

Dozens of rescue crew members swarmed around the flood-lit fuselage, including around the cockpit, which had flipped over.

The plane was a Boeing 737 that was 11 years old, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24.

NTV reported the injured included the plane's two pilots, who it said were in serious condition.

The television channel broadcast a recording of the communications between the pilots and air traffic control in which the pilots are told that previous flights had reported strong tail winds.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports prosecutors have opened an investigation into the accident.

Pegasus is a privately-owned, low-cost carrier based in Istanbul that flies 97 routes, mostly within Turkey and to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The accident comes after a Pegasus plane with 164 people on board skidded off the runway at the same airport in Istanbul on January 7, but there were no deaths or injuries in that incident.

Source: 9News

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