An Aeromexico flight carrying 103 people crashed just after taking off from an airport in northern Mexico, forcing passengers to escape via the emergency slides before the aircraft went up in flames. No one died.
Dozens were injured, Durango state officials said, and it appears that a strong wind brought down Flight 2431.
“The control tower noticed strong wind currents, and this could have caused the accident,” Durango Gov. Jose Aispuro said Tuesday night in a news conference.
The plane was en route Tuesday from Durango to Mexico City when it rapidly descended after takeoff, airline and state officials said.
The left wing of the twin-engine jet initially touched the ground, causing the plane to lose both engines. The plane then skidded off the runway at General Guadalupe Victoria International Airport, stopping about 300 meters (1,000 feet) away, Aispuro said.
It felt like the aircraft was battling the heavy rain and wind before it hit the ground twice during the crash, said Anabel Estrada, a passenger from Joliet, Illinois.
“The second impact was a lot stronger. This is when I jumped and hit my head against the ceiling,” Estrada said. “After the second impact, I saw flames in the cabin ahead of me.”
All passengers and crew members evacuated the plane using its emergency evacuation slides before fire engulfed the aircraft, officials said.
“Our heart is with those affected and their families. We are deeply saddened by this incident, and we would like to assure everyone that Group Aeromexico (is) offering its support, thoughts and prayers to those affected and their families. We are doing everything in our reach to assist them and their families,” Andres Conesa, the chief executive of Aeromexico, said.
Ninety-nine passengers, including nine children and two infants, and four crew members were on board, the airline said.
Forty-nine people were hospitalized, including the pilot and a passenger who are in critical but stable condition, Aispuro said.
A girl who suffered burns was also hospitalized, he said.
Images from the scene show flames and a column of smoke rising from an aircraft on the ground among bushes and tall grass. Rescue workers, firefighters and fire engines also are pictured.
Embraer, the Brazilian maker of the aircraft, stands ready to assist the Mexican authorities in their investigations, the company said.
Aeromexico has operated the 10-year-old aircraft since 2014, the airline said.
Durango is more than 550 miles northwest of Mexico City.
Investigators are looking into what caused Aeroméxico Flight 2431 to crash shortly after take-off Tuesday. The airliner was carrying 99 passengers and four crew members when it went down in Mexico’s northern state of Durango and burst into flames. Remarkably, no one was killed. Kris Van Cleave reports.