45 dead as jet swerves off Madrid airport runway
August 20, 2008
MADRID, Spain ” A Spanish airliner bound for the Canary Islands swerved off the runway and caught fire during takeoff from the Madrid airport on Wednesday, killing at least 45 people, the Interior Ministry said.
Nineteen of the 178 people on board were seriously injured, the ministry’s office for the greater Madrid region said.
Spanair flight JK5022 was bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, a popular vacation spot off West Africa, the company said.
Thick, white smoke rose above Barajas airport as helicopters and fire trucks dumped water on the plane, which ended up in a wooded area at the end of the runway at Terminal 4.
An official with the Madrid emergency rescue service SAMUR said crews were removing injured people and bodies from the MD-80, calling it a “catastrophe.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name.