All passengers, crew survive Air Niugini plane overshoots runway in lagoon in Micronesia

- A Monitor Report 29 Sep, 2018  |    -      +
WELLINGTON, New Zealand: Dozens of airline passengers were forced to swim for their lives after their plane missed the Chuuk International Airport runway and plunged into a lagoon on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 aircraft carrying 47 people – 35 passengers and 12 crew members, which was making a scheduled stop en route to Papa New Guinea - overshot the runway and crashed into the water off the tiny island of Weno in Micronesia archipelago on September 28, according to a statement from Air Niugini, the national carrier of Papua New Guinea.

The airline said in a statement that the 35 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the Boeing 737 were all able to safely evacuate.

The sequence of events remains unclear. The airplane proceeded normally until final approach when the weather conditions suddenly deteriorated and it began raining hard, according to the independent website JACDEC, which monitors airline safety and crash data.

Local fishing boats and U.S Navy helped rescue all 47 passengers and crew from the lagoon. Seven people were taken to a hospital, including one described as being in critical but stable condition.

Passengers on board a plane which crashed into a lagoon have praised the “awesome” response by the heroic fisherman who saved them, before the plane sank in about 100 feet of water.

A passenger on the ill-fated flight described that when the water poured into the cabin, those aboard managed to wade through waist-deep water to the emergency exits on the sinking plane. Several upset passenger said the panic-stricken flight attendants were yelling.

He said he has yet to see a passenger manifest, but typical passengers would include businesspeople from Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, as well as some tourists.

Chuuk is known for its world-class diving, with dozens of World War II shipwrecks visible in the clear waters.

The fleet includes Boeing 767 and 737 jets for international routes, according to the airline, as well as Fokker F-100 aircraft, Q400 and Dash 8 aircraft for challenging local terrain.

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