Airplane crashes at Schiphol Airport; 9 killed

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nose section of TK 1951 at the crash site.
Image: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep.

A Boeing 737-800 registered to Turkish Airlines with 135 people on board crashed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Tuesday. At least nine people, including the three pilots, were killed and over 80 had been injured. The plane was traveling from Istanbul, Turkey.

The airplane crashed short of the runway, close to the A9 highway, and broke into three pieces. According to witness reports, about twenty people were seen walking away from the crash.

"The plane was nose up and the tail section was at a 45-degree angle. The tail section broke down first, which broke off," said a witness in an interview with the BBC who was riding on his bicycle by the airport when the aircraft crashed. "And seconds after the crash people started exiting through the tail section [...] I saw dozens of people making it out very quickly, and as I was about to dial 112 the first sirens were noticeable, and within five minutes there were 10 or 15 ambulances." During the press conference, it was stated that a total of 60 ambulances went to the crash site and 150 medical people were present. Special vehicles were also used to enter the field, which wasn't easily accessible.

A passenger on-board the plane gave this account: "We suddenly descended a great distance as if the plane fell into turbulence. The plane's tail hit the ground [...] It slid from the side of the motorway into the field," he said.

Officials have not yet determined what caused the accident. "We cannot say anything about the cause at the moment. The priority of the authorities is providing help and care," stated the vice-mayor of the Haarlemmermeer municipality, Michel Bezuijen.

72 Turkish and 32 Dutch people were on board the aircraft, according to the Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands.