Fly Ja­maica jet crash-lands at Guyana air­port; 6 in­jured

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS -

GE­ORGE­TOWN, Guyana — Ten peo­ple were in­jured in scenes de­scribed as “chaos” as a Boe­ing air­liner car­ry­ing 118 pas­sen­gers and eight crew mem­bers crash-landed in Guyana’s cap­i­tal, Ge­orge­town yes­ter­day, skid­ding to a halt just be­fore a steep drop.

The Fly Ja­maica Air­ways plane was bound for Toronto, when it suf­fered a hy­draulic prob­lem shortly af­ter take­off and re­turned to the air­port, crash­ing and ca­reen­ing off the run­way, Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter David Pat­ter­son said.

“Ev­ery­one was go­ing crazy, scream­ing, cry­ing for their lives, ev­ery­thing,” said pas­sen­ger In­vor Bedessee, de­scrib­ing how some peo­ple were in­jured get­ting off the flight.

“There were (some peo­ple) in­jured be­cause of com­ing down the slide or not get­ting off the flight fast enough, so the peo­ple be­hind them were kick­ing them,” he told Canada’s pub­lic broad­caster CBC. “There was a lot of chaos.” Bedessee said take­off had been de­layed by about 45 min­utes be­cause one of the left-side doors had “not closed prop­erly” and a main­te­nance crew was called to fix the prob­lem.

Pat­ter­son said the in­juries to six pas­sen­gers were not life-threat­en­ing and the wounded were taken to a hos­pi­tal near the air­port in the coun­try on South Amer­ica’s North At­lantic coast, which shares its north­west­ern bor­der with Venezuela.

Guyana’s Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer, Shamdeo Per­saud, said five peo­ple had been re­ferred to an­other hos­pi­tal for “fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion” for spinal in­juries.

The 118 pas­sen­gers on board the Boe­ing 757-200 in­cluded 82 Cana­di­ans.”to date, we have no re­ports of any Cana­dian cit­i­zens be­ing in­jured,” said gov­ern­ment spokesman Philip Han­nan in Ot­tawa.

“Cana­dian con­sular of­fi­cials are in con­tact with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and stand ready to pro­vide con­sular as­sis­tance to Cana­dian cit­i­zens if needed.”

Af­ter de­part­ing at 2:10 am (0610 GMT), the pi­lot re­ported a prob­lem with the hy­draulic sys­tem 10 min­utes into the flight.

“We flew about 10, 15 min­utes in the air, just over the At­lantic ocean, and we were cir­cling around a few times and the cap­tain an­nounced there’s some hy­draulic prob­lems, and we had to re­turn to the air­port,” Bedessee told CBC.

“When we landed on the ground, the wheels were still spin­ning, they were not brak­ing, there was no hy­draulic brakes to brake the wheels and then we over­shot the run­way,” the still-shaken pas­sen­ger said.

Pic­tures showed the plane had ground to a halt in the sand just short of a steep in­cline.

“One of the wings came apart and the en­gine on the right side ac­tu­ally flipped over and we crashed into a big sand pile at the edge of a cliff. There’s a big drop about 30, 40 feet (nine to 12 me­tres) on the other side,” said Bedessee.

“If we had 10 more feet, we would be down in the cliff, down in the ditch. It was a mir­a­cle.”

Bedessee said the in­ci­dent had left him “very shaken and very, I don’t know, ner­vous.”

“It’s like all of my goose­bumps are go­ing crazy, just it’s a shock and awe, more or less,” he said.

Guyanese po­lice and sol­diers se­cured the crash site for in­ves­ti­ga­tors to be­gin work­ing. The US Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board was alerted.

“We can con­firm that Fly Ja­maica flight OJ256 bound for Toronto has re­turned to Ge­orge­town with a tech­ni­cal prob­lem and has suf­fered an ac­ci­dent on land­ing,” the air­line said.

“At this time, we be­lieve that all 118 pas­sen­gers and eight crew mem­bers are safe. We are pro­vid­ing lo­cal as­sis­tance and will re­lease fur­ther in­for­ma­tion as soon as it is avail­able,” it added.

The plane with its eight crew mem­bers of six Guyanese and two Ja­maicans, also had on board one Amer­i­can, 35 Guyanese, one Pak­istani and a Trinida­dian.

Pat­ter­son said that the flight de­parted Guyana at 2:10 am (lo­cal time) yes­ter­day and at 2:21 am, the pi­lot in­di­cated “there was some hy­draulic prob­lem and he re­quested per­mis­sion to re­turn and he did”.

On land­ing, the emer­gency ser­vices were ac­ti­vated and since then an in­ves­ti­ga­tor from the Guyana Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity has taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for the crash site.

Fly Ja­maica Air­ways was cer­ti­fied by the Ja­maica Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (JCAA) in Septem­ber 2012, and was cleared to op­er­ate in the United States by US au­thor­i­ties in De­cem­ber.

On Novem­ber 16, last year, the air­line formed by a Guyanese busi­ness­man and three Ja­maican share­hold­ers, was given per­mis­sion by the Guyana Gov­ern­ment to be­gin di­rect flights be­tween Guyana and Cuba.

(Pho­tos: AFP)

A Toronto-bound Fly Ja­maica air­plane is seen af­ter crash-land­ing at the Cheddi Ja­gan In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Ge­orge­town, Guyana yes­ter­day. The Toronto-bound Fly Ja­maica air­plane car­ry­ing 126 peo­ple crash­landed at the air­port in Guyana’s cap­i­tal Ge­orge­town yes­ter­day, in­jur­ing six peo­ple, the trans­port min­istry said.

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