Colombia Plane Splits in Three Upon Crash Landing

Plane Splits in Three Upon Crash Landing
A Boeing 737 broke apart after crash landing at Colombia's San Andres island. Photographer: Richard Garcia/Periodico El Isleno/AP

An Aires airline Boeing Co. 737 jet with 131 people on board split in three when it crash landed during a storm at Colombia’s San Andres island.

One passenger died of a heart attack and more than 100 were injured, said Colonel David Barrero, commander of the Colombian Air Force in San Andres, in a telephone interview.

Boeing will send a team to help the Colombian authorities investigating the crash, the company said in a statement. Transport Minister German Cardona blamed weather conditions and ruled out technical failure as the cause of the crash, according to remarks carried by Caracol Radio.

“It’s a new plane, bought recently,” Cardona said. “It underwent standard maintenance checks eight days ago.”

Police said it was a “miracle” that only one person died.

“The pilot’s professionalism prevented the plane from going off the runway,” General Orlando Paez of Colombia’s national police told Caracol Radio.

The jetliner crash-landed at 1:49 a.m. local time at Gustavo Rojas Pinilla airport on the Caribbean resort island, the national police said in a statement. Paez said the plane spun out of control when it was struck by lightning 80 meters before landing at the mainly English-speaking Colombian island about 140 miles (225 kilometers) east of Nicaragua’s coastline.

Three Brazilian nationals and a U.S. citizen were among those injured on the flight, which originated in Bogota, Paez told Caracol. All those injured are expected to fully recover, Caracol Radio reported.

The aircraft made its maiden flight in 2003 and entered service with EasyJet Plc the same year, according to data on a Flight Safety Foundation website. The plane remained with the U.K. low-cost carrier until March when it was delivered to Aires, according to the website.

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