Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spainair Flight from Barcelona Crashes in Madrid

Spainair flight JK5022, flying from Barcelona to the Canary Islands crashed at Madrid's International Airport killing 153 of the passengers and crew. The MD-88 had 172 crew members and passengers on board, only 16 survived the fiery crash.

As smoke billowed from the wreckage, dozens of fire trucks and ambulances rushed to help, lining a nearby road and filling a field next to a swath of charred vegetation. Helicopters flew over dumping water on fires.

"The scene is devastating," said Pablo Albella, an emergency rescue worker. "The fuselage is destroyed. The plane burned. I have seen a kilometer of charred land and few whole pieces of the fuselage. It is all destruction."

Rescuers rushed the few survivors to hospitals, while emergency workers shrouded the dead in white sheets. One body lay on burned grass, an arm and a leg poking out.

Later, a long convoy of black hearses rolled onto the airport grounds to carry bodies to a makeshift morgue set up at Madrid's main convention center — the facility used for relatives to identify bodies after the 2004 Islamic terror bombings that killed 191 people on Madrid commuter trains.

A stready stream of hearses arrived at the morgue under police escort Wednesday night. Mourners went to a special waiting area, avoiding photographers and reporters.

It was not immediately clear what went wrong. Alvarez said the jetliner had barely gotten airborne when it veered right, crashed and broke into pieces. Local authorities indicated one of the planes engines caught fire on take off.

This was one of Spain's most devastating air disasters ever. The investigation by Spanish authorities continue but all evidence is pointing to engine failure of MD-80 on take off. Witnesses on the ground report seeing fire coming from the engine as the plane took off and flight recorders were recovered to analyze the accident.

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