Mexico plane fireball leaves dozens hurt

Airliner engulfed in flames after crashing on takeoff in hailstorm in north of country

Firefigters and rescue personnel work at the site where an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in Mexico’s northern state of Durango, July 31, 2018

Durango: Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, officials said Tuesday.

“It is confirmed that there have been no deaths from the flight #AM2431 accident,” tweeted Jose Rosas, the governor of Durango, where the crash happened.

Passengers said there had been “a strange movement” on takeoff and “that was when the accident happened,” Rosas told the Milenio television channel.

Dozens of lightly injured passengers left the plane, which was engulfed in gray smoke in a field.

“Approximately 85 people are injured,” Durango’s civil defence spokesman Alejandro Cardoza told Milenio.

The plane tried to take off in the hail storm but was forced into an emergency landing in a field around 10 kilometres from the Durango airport.

“The fire started after the emergency landing” but “fortunately no one suffered burns,” said Cardoza, who added that there had been “some serious injuries” but that most people sustained “very minor… knocks.”

The plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew heading from Durango to the capital Mexico City, “crashed on takeoff” around 4pm (1am Wednesday UAE), Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said.

Emergency services, the army and the Red Cross were on the scene.

The first images of the crash site shared on social and Mexican media showed a plane partially immersed in flames.

Aeromexico, the airliner that operated the flight, said it was “working to verify the information and gather details.”

“I pray that the crew and all the passengers are OK,” said Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto.

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