Over 140 killed in Madrid plane crash

August 21st, 2008 - 2:52 am ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Aug 21 (IANS) More than 140 people were killed and 26 injured in the Spanair plane crash at Madrid’s Barajas airport Wednesay, according to the latest figures from the Spanish authorities. Transport Minister Magdalena Alvarez confirmed that more than 140 bodies have been recovered from the scene of accident that occurred when the MD-82 aircraft went off the runway and brust into flames while trying to take off Wednesday afternoon, EFE news agency reported

The aircraft, which was carrying 166 passengers and seven crew members, never achieved flight, but simply went off the end of the runway, where it broke apart and burst into flames, the minister said.

The injured were taken to Madrid hospitals by ambulance and helicopter.

The plane, which was headed to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, was scheduled to take off at 1 p.m. According to officials, the first takeoff was failed due to technical snags and the crash occurred at around 2.45 p.m. during the second attempt.

The cause of the accident was not yet clear.

The black boxes from the plane have, however, been recovered and will be used to try to find out what caused the crash.

The crash, most serious aviation accident in Spain in more than two decades, has forced Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and members of his Cabinet cut short their vacations and travel to Madrid to monitor the situation.

Aviation officials at Barajas, one of the busiest airports in Europe due to its role as a hub between the Old World and Latin America, declared a state of emergency following the deadly crash.

An investigation into the accident has been under way.

Meanwhile, a Spanair spokesman said the passenger list would not be released until next of kin had been notified.

Spanair is currently facing financial difficulties, with Scandinavian parent company SAS reportedly trying to find a buyer for the ailing airline.

The company was in the process of reducing staff by a third and shrinking its number of routes.

In November 1983, at least 181 people were killed when an Avianca Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashed in Mejorada del Campo, near Barajas, on approach to the airport. Only 11 people survived the crash.

A few days later, on Dec 7, 93 people were killed and 31 injured when an Iberia Boeing 727 and an Aviaco DC-9 collided on the runway.

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