Flights resume at Istanbul airport after plane crash kills 3

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An officer stands guard near the Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-86J plane wreckage after it overran the Sabiha Gokcen airport runway in Istanbul during landing and crashed. (Reuters)
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Turkish soldiers stand guard as rescuers work at the crash of a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 airplane. (AFP)
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A picture shows the crash site of a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 airplane, after it skidded off the runway upon landing at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul on Feb. 5, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 06 February 2020

Flights resume at Istanbul airport after plane crash kills 3

  • The plane split into three pieces after ‘a rough landing’
  • It was carrying 177 passengers and six crew members from Turkey’s western province of Izmir

ISTANBUL: Flights resumed Thursday at an Istanbul airport after a Turkish airliner skidded off a runway, killing three people and injuring 180 others.

Sabiha Gokcen Airport restarted operations at around 4a.m. (0100 GMT) though delays and cancelations continued.

On Wednesday evening, a Boeing 737 operated by low-cost Pegasus Airline landed from Izmir on Turkey’s western coast during strong winds and heavy rain and overshot the runway. It skidded about 50 to 60 meters before it dropped into the ditch from a height of about 30 meters, according to the city’s governor, Ali Yerlikaya.

The plane, carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, broke up into three parts upon impact. The plane was 11 years old, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.

Yerlikaya, speaking early Thursday, said all those injured were stable and four people had significant injuries, but he didn’t give details on how severe they were.

The passengers included 22 people from 12 countries.

Pegasus Airlines changed its logo on Twitter to a blackened version in a sign of mourning, and said its “priority is to support the relatives and friends who have lost loved ones.” The company is majority-owned by Turkish billionaire Sevket Sabanci and his family, with 34.5 percent of shares floating in stock exchange Borsa Istanbul. Its fleet of 83 planes fly to more than 100 destinations.

Police guarded the wreckage Thursday morning.

Another Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off the runway at the same airport in Istanbul on Jan. 7, causing the temporary closure of the airport. There were no injuries.

In January 2018, another Boeing 737 in the Pegasus fleet slid off a runway at Trabzon Airport in northeastern Turkey. The plane came to rest in the dirt above the Black Sea with its nose pointed toward the water. No one was injured.


Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Updated 26 May 2020

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.