Stricken plane that came off the runway is lifted from slope

ISTANBUL – Turkish engineers used two cranes to successfully lift a passenger plane that skidded onto a muddy embankment meters from the sea back onto the runway.

The Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane had landed normally at Trabzon airport late on Jan 14 on a flight from Ankara but then went off the runway just meters from the waters of the Black Sea with its wheels stuck in mud.

Since then, it has remained on the steep slope that descends from the airport apron into the sea for four days, its nose pointing down and managing to defy gravity by being stuck in thick mud.

The aviation authorities closed Trabzon airport from 01:00 GMT on Thursday to all air traffic so that the salvage operation could take place, with flights diverted to the nearby Ordu-Giresun airport, also on the Black Sea.

The operation lasted for 11 hours, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Crowds of locals enjoyed the spectacular and unusual event by watching outside the fence of the airport perimeter or even from boats in the sea, reports said.

All 162 passenger and six crew were safely evacuated but witnesses said at the time it was amiracle there had been no casualties and the plane did not slip into the sea.

The pilot told prosecutors investigating the incident that the plane had undergone a sudden surge of power from one of the engines while it was taxiing on the runway.

The cause of the technical issue has yet to be made clear although images showed one of the engines had broken off and fallen into the sea.