9 January 2003
Two Britons among 75 dead in air crash
By Graham Tibbetts and Hamida Ghafour
At least two Britons were believed to be among 75 people killed when an airliner crashed in Turkey in heavy fog, the Foreign Office said last night.
The four-engine aircraft had
taken off from Istanbul and was coming in to land at Diyarbakir
850 miles away in the south-east of the country when it went down.
The Foreign Office said: "We understand there were at least two Britons on the plane. Their names were not on the survivors's list drawn up by the Turkish authorities and so far we cannot confirm anything."
The RJ-100, built by British Aerospace and operated by Turkish Airlines, crashed in flames in a military zone at the end of the runway.
Celal Tokmak, who was taken to hospital with cuts, burns and bruises, said: "The airport was very foggy. I heard a loud explosion just before we were due to land. It felt as if my ear had exploded. I heard a loud explosion after the crash.
"At first I thought there was a war. Is this an attack? I didn't think it was a crash."
Another survivor, Aliye Il, said: "The plane crashed with a huge noise and caught fire before breaking up."
She said she was thrown clear of the plane as it broke up and landed on a bale of hay near the runway. "The airliner was engulfed in flames. It was horrible."
Emergency services braved fierce fire to reach the dead and injured and the army cordoned off the area. A university sports hall was turned into a mortuary.
Distraught relatives wept and comforted each other at the airport terminal.
Others ran out on to the street in panic as police tried to keep order in sub-zero temperatures.
Relatives can telephone a hotline on 00 902 12662 5300 or 5301.