MEXICO CITY: As many as 85 people were injured Tuesday when an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in heavy rain soon after takeoff here in Durango state but authorities said there were no fatalities.
The mid-sized jet was almost full, with 97 passengers and four crew members, when it came down at around 4 PM local time (2100 GMT), Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s minister for communications and transportation, wrote on Twitter.
Al momento no tenemos ningún reporte de personas fallecidas. Estamos trabajando con las autoridades correspondientes para la atención médica de los pasajeros y tripulación. #Vuelo2431
— Aeroméxico (@Aeromexico) July 31, 2018
“At the moment we don’t have any reports of deceased people,” Aeromexico tweeted.
One passenger, identified as Jackeline Flores, told reporters she and her daughter escaped from a hole in the fuselage as the aircraft filled up with smoke.
“A little girl who left the plane was crying because her legs were burned,” said Flores, who said she was Mexican but lived in Bogota, Colombia. The plane had barely left the ground in heavy rain when it came down, she said.
Flores said her passport and documents burned in the fire.
“I feel blessed and grateful to God,” she said.
TV images showed the severely damaged body of the plane after it came to rest in scrubland and a column of smoke rose into the sky.
The aircraft made an emergency landing about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the airport, said Alejandro Cardoza, a spokesman for the state’s civil protection agency. Other authorities said the crash was closer to the airport.
Cardoza said in an interview that around 85 people had suffered mostly light injuries, adding that a fire resulting from the accident had been put out. The civil protection agency said 37 people were hospitalised, while the state health department said two passengers were in a critical condition.
“Many managed to leave the plane on foot,” Cardoza said.
The operator of Durango airport, Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte, attributed the crash to bad weather conditions, citing preliminary reports. The plane had barely taken off when it felt like it was hit by a strong air current, another passenger told network Televisa.
The head of Mexico’s civil aviation agency, Luis Gerardo Fonseca, said it could take months to know the causes of the accident. Speaking to Televisa, he said it the plane’s voice and data recorders would be recovered once rescue efforts were completed.
Earlier, the Mexican airline had written in a post on Twitter that it was aware of reports of a crash close to Durango’s Guadalupe Victoria Airport and was seeking to verify the information and obtain details.
Aeroméxico ha tenido conocimiento de un accidente en Durango y estamos trabajando para verificar la información y obtener detalles. Siga nuestros canales oficiales de comunicación para mayor información.
— Aeroméxico (@Aeromexico) July 31, 2018
Aeromexico is aware of an accident in Durango and working to verify the information and get details, the airline had said, advising people to “follow our official communication channels for more information”.
Soon after the accident, Governor Jose Rosas Aispuro wrote on Twitter that there were no official figures on deaths or injuries.
Ante el percance ocurrido en el Aeropuerto Guadalupe Victoria de Durango he solicitado a los cuerpos de seguridad y emergencias atiendan el lamentable accidente. Oficialmente no hay cifras de heridos o fallecidos. En breve se darán a conocer los detalles de las acciones de apoyo.
— José R. Aispuro T. (@AispuroDurango) July 31, 2018
“In response to the mishap at the Guadalupe Victoria Airport in Durango, I have asked the security and Emergency Corps to attend the unfortunate accident. Officially, there are no numbers of wounded or deceased. The details of the support actions will be announced shortly.”
A spokesperson for the Durango Civil Protection (Proteccion Civil Durango) said there were no reports of deaths in the Mexican plane crash.
The airline also mentioned in another tweet that the plane that met an accident was an “Embraer 190 aircraft with a capacity of 100 passengers”.
TV images showed the tail of a plan bearing an Aeromexico logo emerging from scrubland and a column of smoke rising into the sky. A reporter for network Milenio said some passengers had survived and walked to a highway to seek help.
Further, BBC had reported, citing local media, that the incident took place “five minutes after take-off, and that passengers were seen walking to a nearby road to seek help”.
Flight AM2431 was an Embraer 190, bound for Mexico City when it crashed, Aeromexico said on Twitter. A spokesman for the Mexican airline declined to disclose the passenger list or the nationalities of those on board.
A US Embassy spokesman said he did not currently have confirmation of whether any American citizens were involved in the accident.
Embraer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter that he had instructed the defence, civil protection, and transportation ministries to aid in the response to the crash.
He instruido a la @SEDENAmx, @PcSegob y @SCT_mx para que colaboren en la atención del percance aéreo ocurrido en Durango. Hago votos para que la tripulación y la totalidad de pasajeros se encuentren bien.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) July 31, 2018
“I have instructed the @SEDENAmx, @PcSegob and @SCT_mx to collaborate in the care of the aerial accident in Durango. I vow that the crew and all passengers are well,” he wrote.