- Air Niugini Flight 73 crash-landed into a lagoon off a small Micronesian island on Friday morning.
- The pilot of the Boeing 737 plane had missed the runway by 450 feet.
- All 35 passengers and 12 crew members on board survived.
- The passengers and crew left the plane and boarded local boats to get on shore.
- A passenger described seeing water from the lagoon seep into a hole on the side of the plane.
- The exact cause of the crash is not clear. Air Niugini said it was told weather conditions were poor.
A Boeing 737 aircraft crash-landed into a lagoon off a small Pacific island after the pilot missed the runway during landing.
Air Niugini Flight 73 was due to land in the Micronesian island of Chuuk at 8:55 a.m. local time on Friday morning, according to plane tracking site FlightRadar24. It flew from Pohnpei, another Micronesian island earlier that day.
The pilot missed the runway and crash-landed into a lagoon off Chuuk around 10:10 a.m., Air Niugini said in a statement. The airline called the incident a “short landing.”
Jimmy Emilio, the general manager of Chuuk Airport, told Reuters: “It was supposed to land but instead of landing it was 150 yards [450 feet] short and she went down.”
The exact cause of the crash remains unclear. Air Niugini said it received reports that the weather was poor with heavy rain and reduced visibility at the time of the incident.
All 35 passengers and 12 crew members on board survived and were able to evacuate the plane, Air Niugini said.
They exited the plane via emergency exits and boarded boats sent out by the island’s locals, said Bill Jaynes, a journalist on the flight, in a video posted to Facebook.
Many of them were taken to hospital, where eight remain, Reuters reported, citing a hospital spokesman. Four are in serious condition with bone fractures and other injuries.
The video below, taken by witness Jumeta Esenaf, shows local boats going out to rescue the exit.
SHORT OF THE RUNWAY
Air Niugini said in a statement #PX73 Boeing 737-800 landed in the water short of the runway at Chuuk Int’l Airport. All on board evacuated safely. As this video shows locals were quick to react and assist in the rescue.
????Facebook/Jumeta Esenaf pic.twitter.com/5jjWVv0zdt
— Tom Podolec Aviation (@TomPodolec) September 28, 2018
Jaynes, the passenger, described seeing water from the lagoon seep into a hole on the side of the plane.
He said: “It is surreal. I thought we landed hard until we looked over and saw a hole on the side of the plane, and water was coming in.”
“Unfortunately the flight attendants panicked and started yelling, and I was trying to be calm and help as best I could,” he added. “I called my wife and she cried, and I asked her why, because I’m talking to her.”
Jaynes, who sustained a minor head injury, described seeing severe injuries on other people on the plane.
Air Niugini is the national airline of Papua New Guinea and operates flights around the region.
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