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Plane Crashes on Highway; Eight Dead, 91 Hurt

July 21, 1989

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A Philippine Airlines plane carrying 98 people today overshot a runway, plowed into a concrete wall and bounced onto a highway, killing at least eight people on the ground, officials said.

The dead were crushed in their cars when the twin-engine BAC 1-11 jet careened onto Manila’s 12-lane South Expressway, said witnesses and officials at nearby hospitals. The plane then came to rest on a railroad track.

Airline spokesman Enrique Santos said 91 people were injured, four critically. The critical injuries occurred on the ground, Santos said. Eighty- five people on the plane, including two crew members, were hurt, he said.

Santos said the plane was arriving in Manila from Zamboanga City, 540 miles southeast of the capital, when it crashed at about 3:23 p.m. (3:23 a.m. EDT).

Air traffic controllers said the pilot, Capt. Ricardo Misa, reported that visibility was poor because of heavy rain and that he could see only half the runway as he approached.

″It was raining at the time, but weather conditions were above the minimum for landing, so he was cleared to land,″ Santos said. ″He landed and he ran out of runway.″

The aircraft overshot the runway, hit the ground, crashed through a concrete highway wall and bounced across the road.

″We came down and went up again about 150 feet. Then we went down again very steeply,″ said passenger Beverly Spilman, a British teacher who works in Austria and is vacationing in the Philippines. ″I did see we were nearing the end of the runway .. . then we hit the highway, plowed through a railroad track and landed on the opposite side of the highway.″

Spilman, who spoke to reporters at the Manila airport clinic, suffered minor cuts.

″We landed, three, four, five, six times on the runway. We were actually bouncing,″ said David Tillson, a tourist from Tacoma, Wash.

Another passenger, Roberto Mendoza, cried as he recounted in a radio interview how he thought he was going to die.

″People started shouting. We were expecting that at any moment the plane would explode,″ he said. ″When it stopped, the windows shattered and I jumped out. I thought I landed on the wings but then I found out it was the roof of a house.″

Part of the belly of the British Aircraft Corp. jet was ripped open.

Officials closed the highway to facilitate the rescue operation, which was hampered by the heavy rain and traffic jams on streets leading to the scene.