Pegasus over a cliff

Earlier today, a Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off the runway after landing at Treabzon, Turkey, producing some striking pictures. Fortunately, everyone exited safely. I’ve flown Pegasus several times in Turkey and found the experience quite good. They have a reputation for efficiency and good humor, including a delightful flight-safety announcement. Here’s the report in Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News:

A Pegasus Airlines airplane skidded off the runway of an airport in the Black Sea province of Trabzon after landing and ended up halfway down a steep slope into the Black Sea early on Jan. 14, causing panic among passengers aboard, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

All 162 passengers and crew on board were evacuated and are safe, Trabzon Governor Yücel Yavuz said.

Yavuz said the cause of the incident was not yet known and the airport was closed until 08:00 a.m. local time (05:00 GMT).

“All the passengers were evacuated. Their relatives came and took the passengers. Vehicles were provided to those who did not have cars. After the airplane landed, before it maneuvered, it slipped and then veered off the runway. There are no injuries. There are some passengers who have gone to hospitals for precautionary purposes,” he said.

The Pegasus Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 departed from Ankara late on Jan. 13.

Several Turkish Airlines flights in and out of the airport were canceled, as photographs from the scene showed the plane’s nose only meters away from the water.

Several fire brigade teams, rescue teams and tow trucks were dispatched to the scene.

Special forces units were also dispatched to the scene as part of security measures. The passengers’ luggage were rescued by crews and loaded onto buses. The rescue operation was also observed from the sea.

The first flight out of the runway following the incident was made hours later to Istanbul.

“We, as Pegasus Airlines, are sorry to confirm that PC8622 Boeing 737-800 type TC-CPF Ankara-Trabzon plane skidded off the runway as it was landing yesterday evening on Trabzon Airport. Some 162 passengers, two pilots and four members of the cabin crew on board were evacuated. There are no casualties or injuries,” Pegasus said in a statement.

The cause of the accident is still unknown. Officials have said the cause can be revealed after technical inspections are completed.

One of the passengers aboard during the accident, Fatma Gördü, said the incident occurred after the plane landed.

“We landed on the track and then taxied a little on the runway. But then there was a huge noise, we started shaking. We got pushed to the side; the plane’s nose was facing down, and the back was facing up. The passengers panicked a lot,” she said.

She also said they were afraid a fire would erupt.

“There was the smell of fuel everywhere. We thought a fire would erupt; we were afraid of that. There were pregnant women and children. We did not sleep. I felt the plane crash. People were saying things when they panicked, but no one understood anything. We were told to leave from the back door, but everyone was busy trying to get past each other,” she added.

Another passenger, Yüksel Gördü, said they survived by chance.

“We were saved by a miracle. The plane could’ve burned, exploded or crashed into the sea. But thank God, we are safe. I feel like I’m going crazy every time I remember the moment,” Gördü said.

The Trabzon Airport runway was taken under maintenance for a month in November 2017.

The work started within the scope of a project to enlarge a section of the airport which lasted for one month between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1, 2017.

The Trabzon Airport is used by 4 million people every year.

The Trabzon Chief Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation into the incident.

More photos here.

Trabzon is one of the cities I would have liked to have visited, but, for a number of reasons, my pilgrimage/travel will henceforward be pretty much virtual. More on that at another time.

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