Jet With 56 Aboard Crashes in Turkey

The MD-83 crashed on a rocky mountain shortly before it was due to land in southwest Turkey early Friday.


Turkish media released a list of passengers. All names were Turkish. The dead included a group of academics who planned to take part in a physics conference at an Isparta university. Among them was Engin Arik, a prominent female nuclear physics professor from Istanbul's Bosporus University.

Semsettin Uzun, the governor of Isparta, said the crash site was not on the plane's regular flight route. "It is impossible to understand how the plane" ended up there, said Uzun, who viewed the site from a helicopter.

The plane had broken into pieces, with its fuselage and rear landing in different locations. Anatolia said the plane's wings and engine were at the top of a hill while the fuselage was lower.

Dogan news agency released a transcript of the conversation between the Atlasjet pilot and the Isparta control tower, but the exchange did not indicate the plane was in trouble.

At 1:36 a.m., the pilot was quoted as saying, "Isparta tower, we are inbound." The tower responded, "Understood, Atlasjet. Continue to approach."

The civil aviation authority said communication with the plane was interrupted on its final approach to Suleyman Demirel airport in Isparta at 1:45 a.m.

Atlasjet, a private airline established in 2001, operates regular flights inside Turkey and chartered flights to Europe and other foreign destinations.

In 2005, one of its planes ran off the runway in winter conditions, but the company had not been involved in any fatal accidents. In August, one of its planes was hijacked by two men who held several passengers hostage for four hours before surrendering.

Previous accidents in Turkey include a Turkish Airlines plane that crashed in January 2003 while attempting to land on a fog-covered runway in the city of Diyarbakir, killing 75 people. Five people survived with injuries.

In May 2003, 62 Spanish soldiers returning from peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan and 13 crew members were killed aboard a Ukrainian charter flight that crashed on a fog-shrouded mountain slope near the Turkish Black Sea port city of Trabzon.

In 1994, a Turkish Airlines jet crashed in the eastern province of Van as the pilot tried to land in a snowstorm despite repeated warnings from the control tower to turn back. Fifty-four people were killed.


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