Everybody on plane survives crash landing in Pacific lagoon

Arturo Kim
October 1, 2018

Authorities in Micronesia are searching for a man who went missing after a Boeing 737 missed the runway, plunging into a sea lagoon on Friday, according to Air Niugini, the Papua New Guinea airline who operated the flight.

The Papua New Guinea national carrier said on Saturday one passenger had not been accounted for, but witnesses had reported he had reached a dinghy as U.S. Navy sailors and local residents rescued people from the sinking plane.

Air Niugini's Boeing 737-800 aircraft P2-PXE missed the runway and landed on a lagoon on Friday in Chuuk, Micronesia.

The airline said the plane, which was involved in a collision with another aircraft earlier this year, had "landed short of the runway".

"I was really impressed with the locals who immediately started coming out in boats", he said in an interview with a Baptist missionary in Chuuk, Matthew Colson, who recorded the rescue effort and posted his interview with Jaynes on Facebook.

The cause of the crash remains unclear. Two Australians were on board the aircraft at the time of the crash.

Bill Jaynes, one of the passengers, said the plane came in very low. Officials initially said all passengers survived the incident.

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Emilio told the BBC: "The plane crashed in the lagoon, about 160 yards away from the runway". "Until I looked over and saw a hole in the side of the plane and water was coming in".

Jaynes said those aboard managed to wade through waist-deep water to the emergency exits on the sinking plane.

Photographs and video footage posted online showed small fishing boats surrounding the stricken, semi-submerged plane, ferrying passengers to safety. He said the flight attendants were panicking and yelling, and that he suffered a minor head injury.

US sailors were working on improving a wharf nearby, and one snapped a picture as they helped shuttle survivors to shore.

The country and the airline's profiles are likely to rise because Papua New Guinea is hosting world leaders in November for an annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Borja added that the Consulate General is already coordinating with Air Niugini for the luggage of the Filipino seafarers.

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