All but one of 126 passengers and five crew survived a devastating crash yesterday when a Boeing 737 broke into three pieces upon landing on the Colombian island of San Andres during an electrical storm.
“It’s a miracle,” said Orlando Paez, a national police general. “The skill of the pilot kept the plane from sliding off the runway. The engines of the aircraft shut down on impact.”
Only one fatality – named locally as 65-year-old Amar Fernandez de Barreto – has been reported, while a further six passengers are believed to be injured.
Colombian Air Force Col. David Barrero said the aircraft had broken into three pieces following a landing in bad weather.
“The skill of the pilot kept the plane from colliding with the airport,” added Mr Barrero, commander of the Caribbean Air Group, by telephone from San Andres.
The Aires jet had left the Colombian capital of Bogotá at midnight local time, before coming down on the island, some 120 miles east of the Nicaraguan coast.
“The captain of the airliner told us it was struck by lighting,” added Donald Tascon, deputy director of Colombia’s aeronautics authority.
“We are inspecting the remains of the plane to try to establish what the damages were and what caused the accident.”
Aires is based in Ibagué, Colombia.
It presently operates a fleet of 24 aircraft to 25 domestic and six international destinations.