Caribbean Air Boeing 737 Crashes In Guyana

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Published: July 31, 2011

A packed Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737 carrying 163 people crashed and broke in two on Saturday as it landed in Guyana at night, injuring dozens of passengers but killing no one.

The Boeing 737-800 overshot the runway and burst through a perimeter fence after arriving at Georgetown’s Cheddi Jagan airport just past midnight from New York. The front of the plane snapped off as it stopped just short of a jungle ravine.

No fire appears to have broken out on the jet.

“It’s an absolute miracle what happened here in Georgetown,” said Caribbean Airlines chairman George Nicholas, who visited the crash site.

Passengers screamed when the plane lost control and many fled down emergency inflatable slides when it finally came to a stop, a local newspaper reported.

“It was terror,” a woman passenger whose husband opened the exit door told the newspaper Kaieteur News. “I was praying to Jesus.”

Flight BW 523 was carrying 157 passengers and six crew. The Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Airlines said it did not know the cause of the accident. Investigators from the United States and Guyana were sent to retrieve the black box.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that 12 Canadians were on the flight, and one was slightly injured.

Trinidad and Tobago’s transport minister said four people were in hospital with serious injuries. One passenger suffered a broken leg, an airline spokeswoman said, and others reported neck and back injuries.

“We are very, very thankful and grateful that there are no deaths,” Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo said at the airport.

A photo published by local newspaper Stabroek News showed the Caribbean Airlines plane with the half its fuselage broken off and resting in thick undergrowth.

The summer months are a busy travel period in Guyana as many citizens who live overseas return for vacations. The airport closed for several hours after the crash but reopened by midday.

Boeing’s 737-800 model was introduced in 1996 and has previously suffered eight serious crashes causing a total of 525 deaths, according to the Flight Safety Foundation.

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