Passengers safe after Air Niugini flight crashes into sea in Micronesia


SYDNEY (Reuters) – A flotilla of small boats rescued all 47 passengers and crew from an Air Niugini flight that crashed into the sea short of the runway at an airport in the tiny South Pacific nation of Micronesia on Friday, the airport’s manager said.

People are evacuated from an Air Niugini plane which crashed in the waters in Weno, Chuuk, Micronesia, September 28, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Akang San/via REUTERS

“It was supposed to land but instead of landing it was 150 yards short and she went down,” Jimmy Emilio, general manager of Chuuk Airport at Weno in Micronesia, told Reuters by phone.

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“We don’t really know what happened … people were rescued by boats – 36 passengers and 11 crew were all rescued, only the plane is sinking right now,” he said.

The Boeing 737 (BA.N) aircraft hit the lagoon surrounding the small island about 9.30 a.m. local time (2330 GMT Thursday), Emilio said. The passengers and crew were taken to hospital but no serious injuries were reported.

Video published online by Radio New Zealand and pictures posted on Twitter showed the half-submerged aircraft surrounded by small speedboats.

Air Niugini in Port Moresby was not immediately available for comment. A spokesman for Papua New Guinea’s Accident Investigation Commission said investigators would fly to the scene as soon as possible to piece together what happened.

In 2013, all 101 passengers aboard a Lion Air flight that overshot the runway at Denpasar in Indonesia and landed in shallow water were similarly rescued by boats without casualties.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Paul Tait

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