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Turkish flight was 'abnormal from start to finish' says survivor after three killed and 180 injured

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Turkish flight was 'abnormal from start to finish' says survivor after three killed and 180 injured
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Muhammed DEMIR / AFP
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As the wreck of the Pegasus Airlines plane was still being examined on Thursday, survivors of the ordeal - that killed three - have described their experiences. Many of them concur that all was not well from the off.

Engin Demir, who was injured in the crash, told NTV television that he really noticed the speed as the Boeing 737 operated by the low-cost airline landed at Sabiha Gokcen Airport on Wednesday evening.

Coming in amid strong winds and heavy rain, the plane overshot the runway. It skidded about 50 to 60 metres (165 to 200 feet) before dropping into a 30-metre (98-foot) high ditch, according to the city's governor, Ali Yerlikaya. The 11-year-old plane broke into three pieces, forcing passengers to squeeze out through the cracks or climb onto its damaged wings. In addition to the deaths, 180 people were injured, authorities said.

"With the speed, I think it was not able to stop. It all happened in 2-3 seconds," Demir said from his hospital bed in Istanbul.

Demir said he was temporarily trapped by plane debris falling from the luggage compartment.

"There were screams and shouts. I tried to calm people around me. Help soon arrived." he said.

Another survivor, Alper Kulu, told the DHA news agency that the flight was "abnormal from the start to the finish."

"It was a very turbulent flight. The plane touched down with difficulty. It was very speedy compared to other flights," he said, noting with irony that a 'Welcome to Istanbul' announcement was made after the wheels touched down.

He said the plane suddenly swayed left and right, then dipped to the left as it fell into the steep ditch. He said the impact of the landing flipped the seats in front of him completely around and he pressed to get out, fearing the plane could explode.

"There was panic and shouting. Everyone was calling for help. I got out of the plane on my own, with a broken arm, I (climbed) 30-40 metres. I heard announcements that the plane could explode,'' he said.

The plane, which carried 177 passengers and six crew members from the western Turkish city of Izmir, included people from 12 countries. Officials said the three dead were Turkish citizens.

The plane's co-pilot was Dutch. Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Willemien Veldman said the man, whose identity and condition were not released, was injured in the landing and is recovering in a hospital.

Work continued at the crash site Thursday as investigators examined the wreckage, crews took apart the plane's interior and police and the Turkish military guarded the site. While crews pumped out the plane's remaining fuel, a group of insurance officials arrived to inspect the scene. Flights resumed at the airport early Thursday with some delays and cancellations.

Pegasus Airlines CEO Mehmet T. Nane told a press conference in Istanbul on Thursday that the plane's black boxes had been retrieved and were being deciphered.

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