CRASH UPDATE-Airline passengers treated, probe begins

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Saturday July 30, 2011 – About four people are now being treated for serious injuries following the crash landing of a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) plane at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport this morning, as authorities investigate the cause of the incident.

CAL Chairman George Nicholas is leading a team of senior airline officials to Guyana following the accident in which flight BW 523, en route from Trinidad to Guyana, landed about 1:32 am, overshot the runway and crashed through the airport’s perimeter fence, breaking in two in the process.

The airline confirmed that there were 157 passengers and a crew of six on board when the accident occurred around 1:32 am.

Just over 100 people were seen by medical teams, but Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Transport Devant Maharaj, speaking at a press conference at the VIP Lounge at Piarco International Airport hours after the crash, said there were only four serious injuries recorded.

The cause of the crash has not yet been determined, as aviation officials continue their probe.

However, initial reports indicate that heavy rainfall had affected visibility and the pilot touched down on the middle of the runway, and could not stop by the time he reached the end.

Minister Maharaj said the airline was working diligently with authorities in Guyana to get to the bottom of the incident.

Caribbean Airlines crash

He said that Minister of Housing and the Environment Dr. Roodal Moonilal and Minister of Trade and Industry Stephen Cadiz, who are both on Government business in Guyana, will visit passengers.

Maharaj said the “first priority is to the family and passengers of those who were on the Caribbean Airlines flight”, a sentiment also expressed by CAL officials and in a statement on the airline’s website.

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport was closed for a few hours after the accident, causing other flights to be delayed, but was later reopened.

CAL said the perimeter around the aircraft was secured and is being guarded by the Guyana Defence Force and police officials.

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