Miracle As Lightning Splits Boeing Into 3 Parts, 1 Killed, Rest Rescued

A Boeing 737 jetliner with 131 passengers on board crashed on landing and broke into three pieces at a Colombian island in the Caribbean early on Monday. The plane crash-landed after being struck by lightning at
miracle as lightning splits boeing into 3 parts 1...
PTI 17 Aug 2010, 05:12 PM IST

A Boeing 737 jetliner with 131 passengers on board crashed on landing and broke into three pieces at a Colombian island in the Caribbean early on Monday.

 The plane crash-landed after being struck by lightning at an airport on the Colombian island of San Andres, aviation officials said.



Ronald Tascon, director of Colombia's civil aviation authority, said some 120 people on the Aires airline flight carrying 131 people were hurt in the accident, five of them seriously.

Authorities said the Boeing 737-700 plane was struck by lightning upon its descent toward Gustavo Rojas Pinilla airport on the popular resort island.

A statement issued by Colombia's national police department said that the aircraft broke into three pieces in the crash. 

The lightning strike occurred with the plane less than 80 meters from the runway just seconds before touching down. 

Authorities said the plane departed Bogota shortly after midnight and crashed in San Andres about two hours later.

Colombian Air Force Col David Barrero said officials were investigating reports the plane had been hit by lightning before crashing while landing at San Andres Island, a resort island of 78,000 people about 120 miles east of the Nicaraguan coast.

San Andres Gov Pedro Gallardo said 125 passengers and six crew members were on board, but the only person killed was Amar Fernandez de Barreto, 65. At least five people were reported injured.

 "It was a miracle and we have to give thanks to God," the governor said. Barrero, commander of the Caribbean Air Group, said by telephone from San Andres: "The skill of the pilot kept the plane from colliding with the airport."

Barrero said the 7,545-foot runway had been closed because parts of the plane were still scattered across it.

The Aires jet had left the Colombian capital of Bogota at about midnight.

Police Gen Orlando Paez said by telephone that a group of police officers who had been waiting at the airport for the plane to take them back to the Colombian mainland aided in rescuing the victims.

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