An Aeromexico airliner carrying 103 people from the Mexican city of Durango to the country’s capital has crashed soon after takeoff, but all passengers and crew survived the accident, according to Mexican officials.
Eighty-five people were injured – some seriously – but José Rosas Aispuro, the governor of Durango state, said there were no fatalities among the 97 adults, two children and four crew members on board.
“During the first inspection [of the plane wreckage] no bodies were found,” the governor added in an interview with Mexico’s El Financiero. “We hope, God willing that there’s no one there, no bodies.”
A spokesman for the Durango state health ministry said two of the victims were in critical condition.
Aispuro later said at a press conference that information he had received suggested that “after the plane had taken off, suddenly it was hit by a gust of wind that made it go down briskly and touch the ground with its left wing, detaching its two engines.
“The aircraft was projected off of the runway … and fell approximately 300 metres [away].”
That version of events – which he called a “lamentable accident” – would be confirmed by an investigation by the competent authorities, he added.
Passenger Jackeline Flores said the plane crashed shortly after taking off in heavy rain. She and her daughter escaped from a hole in the fuselage as the aircraft filled with smoke and flames, she said. “A little girl who left the plane was crying because her legs were burned,” said Flores, who said she was Mexican but lived in Bogota, Colombia. “I feel blessed and grateful to God,” she said.
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s communications and transport minister, tweeted that 103 had been on the plane and all of them had been accounted for. “The 103 people who were travelling on Flight AM2431 to Mexico City have all been located, with no reports of fatalities,” Esparza said. Earlier reports said 101 people had been on board.
One survivor, who had been sitting in Premium Economy and escaped from the front of the plane, told the website the aircraft had failed to properly take off “perhaps because of its weight or because of the intense storm that had just started to hit this part of the city”.
A second survivor, Rómulo Campuzano, who is the regional head of one of Mexico’s main political parties, said the plane had left the ground when the crash took place. “The plane had picked up speed and had already taken off from the ground, from the runway, and suddenly the plane drops, I don’t know why,” he told the Televisa network. “I felt two bangs, two very strong bangs and then the plane began to shake extremely violently,” said Campuzano, the secretary general of the National Action party.
“Thank God no lives have been lost,” Campuzano added.
Aeromexico flight 2431 was carrying 97 passengers and four crew, according to Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s secretary of communication and transport.
The plane – an Embraer 190 – landed in a field near the state capital’s airport at about 4pm.
“The plane was taking off,” Aispuro told Mexican television, adding that witnesses told him there was “a bang” and then without warning the plane was on the ground.
In a statement, Aeromexico said: “At the moment we have no reports of any casualties … We deeply regret this accident. The families of all those who have been affected are in our thoughts and in our hearts.”
Durango state civil defense office published photos of a smoking but apparently relatively intact plane lying on its belly in a field. Lines of ambulances were waiting at the accident site.
“We are working to gather further information and will provide more details when they are available and have been confirmed. Our priority is guaranteeing the safety of the clients and crew aboard,” Aeromexico said.
Several injured passengers were able to walk from the wreck, according to the Sin Embargo news website, and victims were taken to local hospitals.
Speaking to El Financiero, Aispuro said he did not want to comment on technical details of why the plane might have crashed. “But there had been a storm which had just gone by when the plane took off.”
However, Santiago López, a Mexican aviation expert, told Televisa it was premature and irresponsible to speculate about whether bad weather had played a role in the disaster.