Five Dead, 39 Injured in Airliner Fire in East Berlin
BERLIN (AP) _ An East German jetliner carrying 113 people veered into a field and caught fire today while trying to take off in East Berlin, killing at least five people and injuring 39, the East German state news agency said.
The death count was likely to climb as rescue workers searched for more bodies in the charred wreckage of the plane, the agency, ADN, said.
It said 13 of the injured were hurt seriously and that about 50 people escaped without injury. That would leave about 19 people missing. ″It must be assumed there are more passengers in the rubble who have died,″ ADN said.
Passengers aboard the Moscow-bound Ilyushin-62 aircraft scrambled out of emergency exits to escape the burning plane, the news agency said.
According to ADN, the aircraft started its takeoff at 8:29 a.m., taxiing about 500 yards down the runway at Schoenefeld airfield. For some unknown reason, it then careened into a field and caught fire, ADN said.
It said the Soviet-built jetliner, carrying 103 passengers and 10 crew, was owned by Interflug, the state-owned East German airline. It said the plane was ″fully fueled.″
Diethart Guenther, a safety expert with Interflug, said the airplane was ″torn apart and completely burned out″ in the accident, ADN said.
It took firemen about an hour to douse the blaze, it said.
ADN said the passengers who escaped were lucky because one wing of the four-engine jet remained intact and did not burn.
The last serious aircraft accident at Schoenefeld airport occurred on Dec. 12, 1986, when an Aeroflot Tupolev 134 crashed into the woods as it was approaching for a landing, killing 80 people.
Investigators later said the cause of the accident was a misunderstanding between the pilot and airport control tower.