Jetliner Crashes After Aborted Takeoff; 17 Dead
Jun. 18, 1989
BERLIN (AP) _ An East German jet carrying 113 people slammed onto a runway, veered into a field, and burst into flames Saturday after an aborted takeoff, killing at least 17 people, officials said.
Forty-seven people were injured, 13 seriously, East German Transport Minister Otto Arndt said earlier. However, the state-run news agency ADN said two of the injured died overnight.
One of the dead was a farmer working in the field, ADN had quoted Arndt as saying.
The Moscow-bound jet, carrying 103 passengers and a crew of 10, was racing down the runway of East Berlin's Schoenefeld Airport and had lifted off slightly when the pilot decided to abort the takeoff, ADN said.
It was not immediately known why he aborted takeoff.
The Soviet-built Ilyushin II-62 slammed to the ground, careened through runway barriers, veered into a field, then burst into flames and broke apart, the news reports said.
''I felt an impact, and then the plane jolted. Suddenly the plane stopped and I saw flames,'' East German television quoted an unidentified passenger as saying.
Passengers jumped from sections where the fuselage was torn open or slid down emergency chutes, ADN said.
Rescue workers found several bodies in an overnight search of the smoldering wreckage of the jet, owned by the state-run Interflug airline, ADN said. It did not say in its latest reports if more people were missing.
Most passengers were East Germans, according to ADN. The plane also carried 11 Soviet passengers, two from Poland, one from Italy and one from Nepal, the news agency said.
About 700 firefighters, police and other officials rushed to the scene to put out the fire and aid rescue efforts.
A pilot, who was not identified, helped passengers out of the burning aircraft even though he himself was injured, ADN said.
A newscast on East German television showed the airplane's smoldering wreckage resting in a field, its nose sheered off and pieces of metal scattered around.
''There was a jolt, and then everything was dark. My husband and I felt our way out through the smoke to an exit,'' the news agency quoted Elke Fuchs, an East German woman injured in the accident, as saying.
Diethart Guenther, a safety expert with the Interflug airline, said the aircraft was ''torn apart and completely burned out'' in the accident, ADN said.
Arndt said the country's fleet of Ilyushin-62 aircraft would be grounded for safety inspections.
ADN said a high-level government commission was directing the rescue operation and would also conduct an investigation.
The last serious accident with a jetliner at Schoenefeld Airport was on Dec. 12, 1986, when an Aeroflot Tupolev 134 crashed into a wooded area as it prepared to land, killing 80 people.
Investigators later said the cause of the accident was a misunderstanding between the pilot and airport control tower.