Air Niugini pilot misses runway by 450 feet and crash-lands a Boeing 737 into a lagoon
A Boeing 737 aircraft crash-landed into a lagoon off a small Pacific island after the pilot missed the runway during landing.
Air Niugini Flight 73 was due to land in the Micronesian island of Chuuk at 8:55 a.m. local time on Friday morning, according to plane tracking site FlightRadar24. It flew from Pohnpei, another Micronesian island earlier that day.
The pilot missed the runway and crash-landed into a lagoon off Chuuk around 10:10 a.m., Air Niugini said in a statement. The airline called the incident a “short landing.”
Jimmy Emilio, the general manager of Chuuk Airport, told Reuters: “It was supposed to land but instead of landing it was 150 yards [450 feet] short and she went down.”
The exact cause of the crash remains unclear. Air Niugini said it received reports that the weather was poor with heavy rain and reduced visibility at the time of the incident.
All 35 passengers and 12 crew members on board survived and were able to evacuate the plane, Air Niugini said.
They exited the plane via emergency exits and boarded boats sent out by the island’s locals, said Bill Jaynes, a journalist on the flight, in a video posted to Facebook.
Many of them were taken to hospital, where eight remain, Reuters reported, citing a hospital spokesman. Four are in serious condition with bone fractures and other injuries.
The video below, taken by witness shows local boats going out to rescue the exit.
Jaynes, the passenger, described seeing water from the lagoon seep into a hole on the side of the plane.
He said: “It is surreal. I thought we landed hard until we looked over and saw a hole on the side of the plane, and water was coming in.”
“Unfortunately the flight attendants panicked and started yelling, and I was trying to be calm and help as best I could,” he added. “I called my wife and she cried, and I asked her why, because I’m talking to her.”
Jaynes, who sustained a minor head injury, described seeing severe injuries on other people on the plane.
Air Niugini is the national airline of Papua New Guinea and operates flights around the region.