Airliner skids, breaks open in Istanbul; 3 dead, 179 injured

Rescue members and firefighters work after a plane skidded off the runway at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Istanbul, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. A plane skidded off the runway Wednesday at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, crashing into a field and breaking into pieces. Passengers were seen evacuating through cracks in the plane and authorities said dozens have been injured. (Can Erok/DHA via AP)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Three people are dead and at least 179 have been taken to hospitals after a Turkish airliner skidded off a runway, crashed into a ditch and broke apart while landing in Istanbul.

Passengers scrambled through cracks in the fuselage to escape the wreckage of the plane operated by low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines.

Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya said the Boeing 737 with 183 passengers and crew members on board failed to “hold onto the runway” in bad weather and skidded into the ditch from a height of about 98 feet.

Turkish TV channel NTV broadcast a recording of air traffic control telling the pilots that previous flights had reported strong tail winds.

Two avalanches kill more than 31

In a separate severe weather-related incident, a second avalanche has slammed into a mountain road in eastern Turkey, killing at least 26 rescue workers, Turkish officials say.

Another 53 emergency workers were injured in Wednesday’s avalanche and others are still buried under the snow.

The emergency crew had been sent to the site to find two people missing after an avalanche on Tuesday.

In all, 31 people have died on the highway near the mountain town of Bahcesehir in Van province, which borders Iran.

A local governor said more than 30 emergency workers were rescued from under the snow or climbed out themselves Wednesday and were hospitalized.

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