Firemen working as smoke billows from the wreckage of a plane that crashed with 97 passengers and four crew on board on take off at the airport of Durango in northern Mexico on Wednesday.—AFP
Firemen working as smoke billows from the wreckage of a plane that crashed with 97 passengers and four crew on board on take off at the airport of Durango in northern Mexico on Wednesday.—AFP

MEXICO CITY: Dozens of people were injured when a packed Aeromexico-operated Embraer jet crashed right after takeoff in Mexico’s state of Durango on Wednesday, but authorities said most were not seriously hurt and there were no fatalities.

The mid-sized jet was almost full, with 103 people including two infants and four crew members on board, when it crashed at about 4pm local time, authorities said. Passengers and crew jumped to safety before the plane was engulfed in flames.

TV images showed the severely damaged body of the plane after it came to rest in scrubland and a column of smoke rose into the sky.

The plane had barely taken off when it felt like it was hit by a strong air current, another passenger told network Televisa.

Durango Governor Jos Rosas Aispuro also said a gust of wind rocked the plane before it plunged suddenly, citing air traffic control at the airport. The plane’s left wing hit the ground, knocking off two engines, before it came to a halt 300 metres from the runway, he told a news conference.

Passengers were able to escape on the plane’s emergency slides before it was engulfed in flames, he said. The pilot was the most severely hurt but was in a stable condition.

Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte, the airport operator, also attributed the crash to bad weather, citing preliminary reports.

Aeromexico said in a statement: “We deeply regret this accident. The families of all those affected are in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

Alejandro Cardoza, a spokesman for the state’s civil protection agency, said in an interview that around 85 people had suffered mostly light injuries and that the fire had been put out. The civil protection agency said 37 people were hospitalised, while the state health department said two passengers were in a critical condition.

The head of Mexico’s civil aviation agency, Luis Gerardo Fonseca, said it could take months to know the cause of the crash. He told Televisa the plane’s voice and data recorders would be recovered once rescue efforts were completed.

Flight number 2431 was an Embraer 190 bound for Mexico City when it crashed, Aeromexico said on Twitter. A spokesman for the Mexican airline declined to disclose the passenger list or the nationalities of those on board.

Aeromexico has not had any fatal crashes in the past 10 years.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2018