A DHL cargo plane skidded off the runway and broke in half on landing at Costa Rica’s San Jose International Airport on Thursday, closing the airport but not injuring the crew. Dramatic video of the incident showed the plan sliding off the runway and breaking in two, sending out a plume of dark smoke.
The fire service said the Boeing 757 took off from Juan Santamaría Airport, west of the capital, but decided to return after finding a fault in the hydraulic system.
Héctor Chaves, director of the Costa Rica Fire Department, said that on landing the plane skidded, flipped over and broke in two, exposing its cargo.
“Units were mobilized to remove the pilot and co-pilot,” Chaves said. “Then they applied foam to prevent spillage and now they’re working on an earth levee to prevent fuel from entering the sewage system.”
A spokesman for the freight company DHL said both pilots were not injured.
However, AFP reported that the Guatemalan couple were taken to hospital “for a medical check-up” as a precaution, according to Guido Vasquez, a Red Cross worker.
The pilot was shaken, but both crew members were conscious and “remember everything vividly,” Vasquez added.
DHL spokesman Daniel McGrath said the company was working with airport authorities to move the plane so flights could resume. He said an investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the incident.
DHL is a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Group.
Luis Miranda, deputy director of civil aviation for Costa Rica, said the plane was only about 35 miles from the airport when it requested permission to reverse from its scheduled flight to Guatemala City. He said the pilot and co-pilot were the only crew members on board the plane, which only had about 2½ hours of fuel on board.
The accident caused operations at the country’s largest airport to be suspended until around 5:30 p.m., affecting hundreds of flights and over 8,000 passengers, AFP reported.
Activities are now back to normal, “both for arrivals and departures,” said Ricardo Hernandez, general manager of Aeris, the public company that manages the airport.