Six die when commuter plane crashes at Irish airport

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CORK, IRELAND: Six people were killed on Thursday morning when a Manx2 Airline passenger plane crashed at Cork Airport in Ireland, authorities said. Six others were injured.

The 19-seat Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner with flight number BPS 7100 was on a scheduled daily flight from Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland to Cork in the Republic of Ireland. The aircraft had departed Belfast at 7.50 a.m. local time and was due to land in Cork at 9 a.m.

The aircraft had been experiencing problems as a result of heavy fog in Cork and made two failed attempts to land before approaching Runway 17 again at 9.52 a.m. "On the [third] approach to Runway 17, the aircraft crashed adjacent to Taxiway C," said Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) spokesman Martin Towey.

Soon after the crash, the Cork Major Emergency plan was activated and the principal response agencies, Cork Fire Services An Garda Siochana and HSE responded to the scene. A fire which broke out after the crash was under control at 9.56 a.m., while the major emergency was stood down at 11.05 a.m.

Irish police, which are better known as Gardaí, said a total of 10 passengers and two pilots were onboard the plane. "Six people were killed in the crash and six injured were removed to Cork University Hospital," a police spokesperson said. Some were said to be seriously injured.

Manx2 provided no other details about the accident but said it was working with all relevant authorities to establish what happened. "We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident," a spokesperson said.

Irish President Mary McAleese expressed her "deep shock and sadness" on learning of the loss of life at Cork Airport. "The President said her thoughts and prayers, and those of all the people of Ireland, are with the families of the deceased and the survivors at this very difficult time," said her spokesman Gráinne Mooney.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen also expressed his shock in a statement released by his office. "My thoughts are with all of those affected by this morning's crash, including the families and friends of those who have died," he said. "I also want to send my best wishes and those of the Government, to all of those who survived the crash and are being treated in hospital at present."

Cowen also commended the work of rescue crews and all of the emergency and support staff working to assist those involved in the crash. He added that he had been briefed by the Transport Minister Pat Carey about the crash.

Authorities did not immediately know what caused the deadly plane crash, although the heavy fog is believed to have played a factor in the accident. Members of the Department of Transport Air Accident Investigation Unit have arrived at the scene.

As a result of the accident, Cork Airport was closed. "There has been a serious incident at Cork Airport this morning and the airport has been closed as a result," a statement on the airport's website said. It did not say when the airport may reopen but the airport's website showed that flights for the remainder of the day had all been either cancelled or diverted to Shannon Airport.

Politician Micheál Martin, the leader of the Fianna Fáil party, said he was 'greatly saddened' to learn about the accident. "My thoughts and prayers are with those who have sadly lost their lives or have incurred injury. I want to extend my sincere sympathies to their families," he said.

Ireland rarely sees major aviation accidents and Thursday's crash was the worst in the country since 1985 when a bomb detonated aboard Air India Flight 182 while in Irish airspace. The Boeing 747-237B crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 329 people on board in what was the deadliest terrorist attack in the skies before the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Before that, in 1968, all 61 people aboard a Vickers Viscount 803 were killed when it crashed into the sea near Wexford, Ireland. And in September 1954, 28 people were killed when KLM flight 633 crashed in Shannon while on a flight from Amsterdam to New York City.

(BNO NEWS )

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