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Pattaya Daily News

07 March 2007 :: 15:03:29 pm 31075

Indonesian Plane Overshoots Yogyakarta Runway – 49 Dead

Garuda flight GA-200, a Boeing 737-400, with 133 passengers and 7 crew members on board on a short 55 minute flight from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to Yogyakarta’s Adi Sucipto Airport landed heavily and burst into flames earlier today, at about 7am, local time, March 7.
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Reuters said that a passenger, Ruth Meigi Panggabean, had reported that “We had been warned that it would be a turbulent flight. As we approached the ground and I could see roofs from our window, the plane was still swaying and shaking. Then the plane slammed to the ground and skidded forward and slammed once again before it came to a stop.”

Witnesses reported that the front wheel of the Garuda Airlines Boeing 737 blew out as it touched down, then the rear wheels burnt as well. Flames were seen projecting into the air, triggering a series of explosions that sent the aircraft skidding off the runway.

The plane quickly turned into an inferno as the on-board explosions occurred, however, not before some dozens of passengers had managed to escape by jumping 2 metres from the plane into a paddy field below.

Initially, the death count was reported as being at 49, but this figure was later amended by Garuda Airlines to 21 passengers dead. Miraculously, 112 managed to survive the crash according to Garuda officials. But many had been trapped within the choking smoke which quickly filled the plane and failed to escape.

The state Antara news agency, quoting local sources, said that the seven crew had been pulled out alive from the wreckage of the plane. Yet, another witness, Captain Yos Bintoro, an airport official, maintained he had seen people dead in the cockpit. This was later confirmed by Garuda who stated “From the crew, six people survived and one cabin crew member died.”

An Australian diplomatic team supporting Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, consisting of nine Australian diplomats and journalists were on board the aircraft. Downer said five of the Australians had survived, but four were still unaccounted for. He, himself, had been propitiously delayed in Jacarta and was due to fly to Yogyakarta by military transport later today. Mr Downer maintained there was no evidence that the plane had been sabotaged or subject to a terrorist attack.

Another notable passenger was Din Syamsudin, chief of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, who had been scheduled to meet with Mr. Downer later in the afternoon in Yogyakarta.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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