Turkish plane skids off runway, splits into pieces

An airplane careened off a runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport on Wednesday evening, dropping more than 100 feet to the ground where it broke into pieces. Turkish authorities say that at least three people were killed and 179 others were injured.

The plane, from a Turkish low-cost carrier called Pegasus Airlines, was coming from the western city of Izmir and was attempting to land in Istanbul during bad weather.

“According to the information we obtained, the plane … drifted to the land as a result of the hard landing,” Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told the Anadolu news agency.

Istanbul’s governor Ali Yerlikaya said it skidded on the runway for about 160 feet, according to the news agency. “Then, it falls from a height of around 30 meters [100 feet] here,” he said, over a road and eventually an empty field.

CCTV footage obtained by Reuters shows the plane moving down the runway before suddenly disappearing, apparently off a cliff. It reportedly also burst into flames.

Photos from the scene show the plan broken into three pieces, with the nose completely severed from the rest of the plane. According to The Associated Press, passengers “had to evacuate through cracks in the smashed plane.” The aircraft was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, Koca stated.

According to Flightradar24, the plane is a Boeing 737-800 that was built in 2009. It previously was operated by Air Berlin and joined the fleet of Pegasus Airlines in 2016.