Death Toll From Tuesday Crash At 22
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Two more people died of injuries suffered in the emergency-landing crash here of an Air Sinai passenger plane, officials said Wednesday, raising the death toll Wednesday to 22 and leaving three survivors.
The Fokker-27 carrying 25 passengers and crew from Alexandria crashed Tuesday night near the airport as the pilot tried to land in a raging sandstorm after reporting an engine on fire.
The twin-engine aircraft plowed into the compound of a construction company about a mile from a packed amusement park, exploded and caught fire. Officials said 20 people on board were killed instantly and two died later while hospitalized.
Among the three survivors were a newlywed couple, who were thrown clear of the fiery wreckage.
Air Sinai authorities said all passengers and crew members were Egyptians.
Airport sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as the plane approached Cairo, the control tower told the pilot visibility had deteriorated and instructed him not to land.
But the pilot radioed back that he had to attempt a landing because an engine was on fire, the sources added.
The plane, on a domestic flight to Cairo from the Sinai resort of Sharm el- Sheik, had been earlier diverted to Alexandria because of sandstorms here. It left for Cairo four hours later.
One of the three survivors, Rizk Abdu Rizkallah, 31, said the pilot tried to land ″six or seven times″ but would ″pull up at the last minute.″
Rizkallah, whose bride of one month also survived, said flames shot from the right engine as the pilot made his final approach.
Rizkallah, an accountant for the Egyptian-American Bank, said that when the plane crashed, ″my wife and I were thrown a long way out in our chairs. I saw the plane go up in flames.″
Montaser Sadeddin, deputy commander of a local police station, said the plane touched down on a highway about 750 yards from a runway, skidded into the construction company compound and exploded.
Sayed Nur el-Din Mustafa, an employee of the construction company, said he heard a huge explosion and rushed to the compound where the plane was on fire.
″We started to put it out with fire extinguishers,″ he added. ″We found five people thrown from the wreckage and a sixth person pinned beneath it. We put them in a company ambulance and took them to the hospital straightaway.″
Officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation said the plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder had been recovered and would be analyzed for clues as to the cause of the crash.
The airline announced that the dead included stewardess Ashgan Attia, who survived last November’s hijacking of an EgyptAir jetliner to Malta in which 60 people were killed.
Air Sinai is a government-owned carrier that operates domestic flights and also provides service between Cairo and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Tuesday’s crash was the first involving an Air Sinai plane since the carrier was established six years ago following the Isreali-Egyptian peace treaty, which provided for commercial air service between the two former adversaries.