Three people have died after a passenger plane skidded off the runway and broke apart while landing at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Wednesday.
Koca added that 179 people had been sent to different hospitals in the aftermath of the incident, which appeared to have taken place in poor weather conditions.
He said that three people are currently in an intensive care unit.
The Pegasus Airlines plane was carrying 183 people in total, including 175 adult passengers, two young children and six crew members, Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya said. The airline has confirmed that one of its planes, flight number PC2193, had skidded off the runway.
Yerlikaya said the plane skidded up to 60 meters (196 feet) after landing, before falling up to 40 meters down a ditch.
Footage from the accident site showed the plane off the runway.
Dozens of first responders were working around the plane, which appeared to have split in two.
Around 22 of the injured went to Kartal Lutfi Kirdar Training and Research Hospital. Many of them are suffering from injuries to their heads and legs, said chief surgeon Recep Demirhan.
He said that 14 of those passengers are suffering “middle range” injuries and eight are lightly injured. “There are broken bones in different places in their bodies,” Demirhan said.
He said that among their patients, two “kids are injured and three foreigners are injured,” without stating their nationalities.
The plane caught fire after landing, and ambulances and rescue teams were at the scene to rescue passengers, CNN Turk reported. The airport has been temporarily closed to air traffic.
According to Flightradar24.com the plane landed at 6:19 p.m. local time (10:19 a.m. ET).
Weather radar showed a line of showers and thunderstorms moving through the area at the time of the incident.
Prosecutors in the capital Ankara have launched an investigation into the incident.