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DHL cargo jet breaks in half on runway during emergency landing in Costa Rica

A DHL cargo plane is seen after emergency landing at the Juan Santa Maria international airport.
A DHL cargo plane is seen after emergency landing at the Juan Santa Maria international airport. Copyright Ezequiel BECERRA/AFP
Copyright Ezequiel BECERRA/AFP
By AFP with AP
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The Juan Santamaria international airport was closed temporarily following the incident involving the Boeing 757-200 cargo aircraft.

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A cargo plane broke in half during an emergency landing in Costa Rica on Thursday.

The Juan Santamaria international airport was closed temporarily following the incident involving the Boeing 757-200 cargo aircraft.

DHL, part of Deutsche Post AG, said the crew was unharmed and that one member was undergoing a medical review as a precaution.

The accident happened just before 10:30 am local time (1630 GMT) after the plane, which had taken off from the Juan Santamaria international airport outside San Jose, was forced to return 25 minutes later for an emergency landing due to a mechanical failure.

Héctor Chaves, Director of the Costa Rican Fire Department, said that upon touching down in the southern sector of the airport, the plane skidded and spun around with the fuselage breaking in two.

The plane, which was traveling to Guatemala with a crew of two, had only traveled 35 miles (56.3km) from the Costa Rican airport when it requested permission to return.

The pilot was shaken up but both crew were conscious and "remember everything vividly," Guido Vasquez, a Red Cross worker, told AFP.

A spokesperson for the local fire department said the plane landed right in front of the fire station and firefighters responded to the scene within one minute.

Airport officials said the accident forced the shutdown of flight operations resulting in at least 32 flights from North, Central and South America being diverted to alternate airports.

DHL spokesman Daniel McGrath said an investigation would be conducted to determine the cause of the incident.

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