A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 narrowly avoided the Black Sea on Saturday 13 January, after it skidded off the runway at Trabzon Airport in Northern Turkey.

The passenger jet had flown from Ankara to Trabzon with 162 passengers, two pilots and four cabin crew on board when it overshot the runway and slid down a coastal cliff coming to a halt with its wheels caught in thick mud.

The cause of the incident is yet to be confirmed but all passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the aircraft by emergency services. The airport was temporarily closed for several hours on Saturday night while an investigation was launched by the Turkish Aviation Authority SHGM, but reopened on Sunday morning.

One of the passengers, Fatma Gordu, told reporters at the state-run news agency Andalou, that panic erupted as “we tilted to the side, the front was down while the plane’s rear was up. There was panic, people shouting, screaming.”

Having opened to air traffic in 1957, the airport was serviced with a new runway in 1985 making it accessible to all kinds of aircraft.

Pegasus Airlines said in a statement the aircraft “had a runway excursion incident during landing at Trabzon Airport”, while one of the pilots was quoted as telling prosecutors that the right engine ‘suddenly gained speed’ for unknown reasons as the plane was landing.  According to the flight path the aircraft had a speed of 110 knots 204 km/ h, 127mph) on the last third of the runway. Some reports have also suggested that the aircraft’s left jet engine was also ripped from its wing during the incident.

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