TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Airplane crash leaves four dead and many injured.
A passenger jet bound for Miami, Florida crashed when it overshot a runway, traveled onto a busy Honduras street and ultimately struck an embankment. four people were killed including the pilot and 81others were injured.
Among the injured passengers was Gen. Daniel Lopez Carballo, the former head of Honduras’ armed forces.
The Grupo Taca Airbus 320 which had 124 people on board, was attempting to land when it overshot the runway. It smashed nose-first into an embankment and buckled and broke in places. The pilot and co-pilot were trapped inside the cockpit.
According to Cesar Villalta, director of Honduras’ military hospital, rescuer workers had to pry open part of the wreckage to get them out but the pilot died in the plane crash.
One passenger was Harry Brautigam, the head of a regional development bank. He died of heart failure shortly after the crash. One man on the ground who was believed to be a taxi driver was also killed. His body was trapped under the plane’s wreckage.
According to Dennis Hernandez, a spokesperson from the Brazilian embassy, Brazilian Ambassador Brian Michael Fraser Neele was a passenger on the flight. His wife, Janneth Shantall was killed in the plane crash. Hernandez said the ambassador was injured but he didn’t know the extent of his injuries.
Fortunately, many passengers walked away from the aviation accident without injury including Mirtila Lopez and Roberto Sosa.
While investigators were not clear on what caused the crash, it is believed that weather may have been a factor as witnesses said the runway was wet with rain from Tropical Storm Alma.
Officials have long talked about the need to replace the Toncontin International Airport which some argue is antiquated with a short runway, out-dated navigation equipment and surrounding hills making it one of the more dangerous international airports.
Toncontin International Airport was built in 1948 with a runway less than 5,300 feet (1,600 meters) long – shorter than that of many small air fields. The airport sits at an altitude of approximately 3,300 feet (1,000 meters). That elevation requires pilots to use more runway on taking off and landing than they would at lower altitudes. In addition, the hills force pilots to make a very steep approach.
President Manuel Zelaya and his Cabinet are considering moving flights to the U.S. military’s Soto Cano air base which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of the capital.
Previuosly, a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane overshot the runway at Toncontin and continued its forward motion about 200 yards (180 meters) before catching fire on a major street and killing three people aboard the plane. That airplane crash occurred in 1997.
The worst aviation accident associated with this airport occurred in 1989 when a Honduran airliner crashed into one of the nearby hills, killing 133 people.