SPAIN: Spanair jet carrying holidaymakers to the Canary Islands from Madrid crashes on takeoff killing at least 145 peopleRecord ID: 382005
- Title: SPAIN: Spanair jet carrying holidaymakers to the Canary Islands from Madrid crashes on takeoff killing at least 145 people
- Date: 21st August 2008
- Summary: (BN12) MADRID, SPAIN (AUGUST 20, 2008) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SMOKE COMING FROM AIRPLANE
- Reuters ID: LVABKHCASD2SQJG3Q6EPMLAAA4VE
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Duration: 00:00:21
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Story Text: About 145 people were killed when a Spanish jet taking holidaymakers to the Canary Islands crashed on takeoff and burst into flames at Madrid airport on Wednesday (august 20), an emergency services spokesman said.
Smoke billowed up near Terminal Four from the remains of Spanair's Flight JK5022, an MD-82 jet bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
The 15-year-old plane, carrying 166 passengers and nine crew, shot off the runway at 2:45 pm local time (1245 GMT), according to Spanair, and witnesses described a huge explosion.
The government said 45 people were confirmed killed, 19 seriously hurt and 35 were unhurt.
But a source at the emergency services said the death toll was nearer
The flight was a code-sharing operation with Lufthansa serving the Canary Islands, a popular holiday destination for tourists from throughout Europe.
Thick columns of smoke rose into the air and police had blocked off bothof the Terminal Four runway, where more than 20 ambulances and many fire engines were parked.
Police escorted tearful relatives of passengers past reporters and dozens of workers identified as psychologists and social workers arrived at the terminal.
Dozens of shocked relatives began arriving at Las Palmas airport on the island of Gran Canaria, where they were taken into a room closed to the press and offered counselling by Red Cross psychiatrists.
"Along with Aena and the Red Cross we are providing psychologic support to the relatives of the victims and along with the security forces we are ready to assist Spanair with their needs. We are permanently updating the relatives on the situation but I cannot give you anymore information,"
the Gran Canarias Airport Director Francisco Macho said.
There was no immediate official comment on the cause of the accident but the newspaper El Mundo quoted a source on its website as saying the plane's left engine had caught fire.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero interrupted his holidays and the Spanish Olympic Committee said the Spanish flag would fly at half mast in the Olympic village in Beijing. Spain's national soccer team wore black armbands at a friendly match with Denmark.
Spanair, a subsidiary of Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS), has been struggling with high fuel prices and tough competition during an economic slowdown. It has announced it was laying off 1,062 staff and cutting routes to turn the airline around after losing 81 million U.S. dollars in the first half of the year.
Just hours before the crash, Spanair's pilots threatened to strike.
SAS has been trying to sell Spanair since last year.
The MD-82 is a medium-range single-aisle plane, popular with regional airlines. It is a member of the MD-80 family of planes made by U.S.
manufacturer Boeing Co.
The line of planes, seating up to 172, was originally made by McDonnell Douglas as part of its DC-9 line, entering service in the early 1980s. Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas in 1997, and the last of the MD-80 family rolled off its production line in 1999 Boeing did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the crash.
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