[UPDATE] 3 dead, more than 170 injured as passenger plane skids off runway in İstanbul

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A passenger plane landing at an airport in Istanbul skidded off the runway and broke into three parts, killing three people and injuring more than 170, officials say, BBC reported.

The Pegasus Airlines jet was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members from İzmir province in the west when it crashed at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.

The Boeing 737 was trying to land in heavy tailwinds and rain.

The airport was closed and flights diverted after the accident.

Turkish media said the majority of people on board were Turkish but that there were also about 20 foreign nationals.

İstanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said, “Unfortunately, the Pegasus Airlines plane couldn’t stay on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50 to 60 meters [164-196 feet].”

He said the plane then fell between 30 and 40 meters off the end of the runway into a ditch.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed three Turkish citizens had died and that 179 other people had been injured. He said none of the wounded were in critical condition.

Video footage showed passengers climbing through one of the large cracks to escape via a wing and dozens of rescuers working around the jet.

Other footage on social media showed a blaze inside the aircraft, which was later put out by firefighters.

Transport Minister Cahit Turhan said authorities had not yet been able to speak to the pilots, a Turkish national and a South Korean, who were believed to have been injured in the accident.

İstanbul’s public prosecutor has launched an inquiry.

The low-cost Pegasus Airlines has a fleet of 83 aircraft — 47 Boeing and 36 Airbus planes — and has been operating for 20 years.

A Pegasus Boeing 737 coming in from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates skidded off the runway at the same airport on Jan. 7. There were no casualties, but the airport had to be temporarily closed.

And a Pegasus Boeing 737 also skidded off the runway at Trabzon airport in January 2018, plunging down the side of a cliff and almost into the water. There were no casualties.

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