Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spanish radio: 145+ killed in air crash

The latest reports out of Spain said that at least 145 people died when a Spanair MD-82 aircraft broke up and caught fire after skidding off the runway at Madrid's Barajas International Airport.

According to Spanish Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez only 26 people survived the crash of the flight which was destined for the Canary Islands. Alvarez alluded to the crash being caused by “an error in takeoff”, and indeed the aircraft had aborted a previous takeoff attempt where it had been reportedly taken to the maintenance shed.

Assuming that the death toll is accurate, today’s accident would be Spain’s deadliest air accident in twenty years.

The crash occurred hours after Spanair's pilots union blasted parent company SAS for creating “organized chaos” at the airline.

A Spanish government spokesman said that Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was cutting his vacation short and was en route to Madrid. Meanwhile, a passenger onboard another plane landing at Barajas gave his eyewitness account to BBC News:

As we landed and the plane turned off, from my seat I could see smoke coming up from the end of the runway…

There was a small mushroom cloud, as you might expect after an explosion…

The problem was that after the plane crashed, the area around it was engulfed in flames. The firefighters could not get to the plane.

That is why the helicopters came with their water tanks - they were putting out the fire.

There must have been about 80 or 90 ambulances on the scene by the time we got into the terminal.

Image- BBC News (“At least 100 people were killed and dozens injured when a plane with more than 170 people on board skidded off the runway during take-off at Madrid's Barajas airport.”)

Sources- AFP,, Press Association, The Telegraph, MarketWatch, BBC News,, Reuters

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