Thursday, August 21, 2008

Follow-up: Madrid air crash kills 153

More details are gradually emerging from yesterday’s deadly Spanair crash which officially cost the lives of 153 people in Madrid.

Airline officials refused to guess at the cause of the crash; nevertheless, they did admit that a first attempt at takeoff had been scrapped when an indicator showed that “overheated air” entered the aircraft. Yet according to Time, a “source in Spanair” claimed that the problem was fixed; subsequently, flight 5022 crashed after one of the engines allegedly caught fire.

Both black boxes were recovered and will soon be examined by aviation authorities.

Of the 172 passengers on the flight bound for the Canary Islands only 19 survived including three children. Most of the passengers were Spaniards though officials acknowledged eighteen foreigners from eleven countries were onboard.

According to one story in the Spanish press, a passenger on the ill-fitted flight had been refused exit from the plane after the aborted takeoff:

Spanish media said that an unidentified woman at the hotel told reporters that her husband had texted her at 12.30 pm - almost two hours before the accident - saying: "My love, there's a problem with the plane."

She phoned him back and told him to get off the flight, but he said: "They won't let me off."

The woman's son, who was with her at the hotel, said that the cabin crew had told the man to get back in his seat.

Spain’s government has declared three days of mourning in memory of those deceased in the crash. Meanwhile, King Juan Carlos is expected to visit grieving families at Barajas airport while Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is expected to visit those recuperating in hospital.

Image- CBC (“A part of the fuselage of the Spanair jet that crashed on take off at Madrid airport is lifted by a crane on Wednesday. The airliner bound for the Canary Islands at the height of the vacation season crashed, burned and broke into pieces Wednesday while trying to take off from Madrid, killing 153 people on board, officials said. (EFE/Associated Press)”).

Sources- AFP, Voice of America, IHT, BBC News, Time, Guardian UK, Times Online, The Latin Americanist

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