All survive airliner crash in Georgetown, Guyana
Published Saturday, July 30, 2011 7:40PM EDT
Everyone aboard a Caribbean Airlines jet from New York survived when the plane overshot a rainy runway, slid through a chain-link fence and broke in half just short of a ravine at Guyana's national airport on Saturday.
Although there were no fatalities, dozens of injuries were reported among the 163 passengers and crew on the Caribbean Airlines flight 523.
Officials said a total of approximately 100 people received medical attention, including more than 30 who were taken to hospital. Only three were admitted for injuries including a broken leg, bumps, cuts and bruises.
The airline said 12 Canadians were among the passengers. In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying it has learned from local authorities that one Canadian suffered a minor injury.
Passengers said they had begun to applaud what they thought was a successful landing at Cheddi Jagan International Airport when the Boeing 737-800 apparently overshot the 2,200-metre runway.
Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo said there could have been dozens of fatalities if the plane hadn't narrowly avoided plunging into a deep ravine at the end of the runway.
"We are very, very grateful that more people were not injured," Jagdeo said after visiting the crash site.
One passenger, 42-year-old Adis Cambridge of Guyana, said she felt the hard landing but did not think much of it until seconds later.
"I hit my head on the roof. It was so scary," she said.
Cambridge described jumping from the wing of the plane to the dirt road below as crews with flashlights searched for passengers in the dark.
Removing passengers from the plane was hampered at first by a lack of adequate field lights and other emergency equipment.
After the crash, authorities temporarily closed the airport. Hundreds of travellers were stranded and dozens of flights delayed before the main terminal reopened late Saturday morning.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has been asked to help investigators in the South American country to determine exactly what happened.
Foreign Affairs has also said consular aid is being made available to any affected Canadians who need it.
Caribbean Airlines is the single largest carrier in the region and operates at least five daily flights.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press