MADRID, Spain (AP) — A Spanish emergency rescue official says there are only 26 survivors after an airliner with 173 people aboard crashed on takeoff from Madrid’s airport.
The official with the SAMUR municipal rescue service gave the toll after touring the site of Wednesday’s crash.
The official told AP the rest of the people on the plane have been given up for dead. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules that barred him from giving his name.
The Spanair jet was bound for the Canary Islands.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
MADRID, Spain (AP) — 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 173 people on board were seriously injured, according to statements from the airline and the ministry.
It is the height of the summer tourist season in Spain and Spanair flight JK5022 was bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, a popular resort 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.
The plane was an MD-82 carrying 173 people, Spanair said.
The newspaper El Pais said the plane was delayed an hour by technical problems. It managed to get slightly off the ground but crashed near the end of the runway, the paper said.