The results are dramatic for the emergency services. In the midst of take-off, an airliner hit a fire truck on Friday, November 18, at Lima International Airport, causing the aircraft to catch fire and the evacuation of passengers. Two firefighters died, several official sources said.
Lima Airport Partners (LAP), the operator of Jorge Chavez Airport“deeply regrets the loss of life of two members of the LAP Aeronautical Fire Brigade in the accident that occurred between a fire engine and the plane operating flight LA2213 from Lima to Juliaca“, near the border with Bolivia.
Rescuer in critical condition
In addition to the two firefighters who died, a rescuer who was in the fire engine was injured and is “in critical condition due to head trauma”, according to a security official, Aurelio Orellana.
Operations at the country’s main air terminal were suspended until 1 p.m. (6 p.m. GMT) on Saturday, Lima Airport Partners reported. The airline LATAM, which operated this domestic flight, “confirms that no passenger or crew member lost their lives.” The plane was carrying 102 passengers and six crew members.
The plane “had clearance to take off”
The general manager of LATAM Peru, Manuel van Oordt, expressed his amazement at the presence of firefighters on the take-off runway, specifying that the pilot of the plane had not reported any anomalies.
“No emergencies were reported on the flight, it was a flight that was in optimal conditions to take off, he had clearance to take off, and he found a truck on the runway and we don’t know what this truck was doing there”he said at a press conference at the airport.
The Ministry of Transport has also confirmed “an accident on the runway of Jorge Chavez airport”. “Following the report of the death of two aeronautical firefighters and an injured person, the prosecutor’s office is seeking to establish the facts before possibly indicting on homicide and personal injury charges”, said this instance.
The plane continued its course rubbing the runway with the right wing
LAP clarified that its “Teams provide (have) the necessary care to all passengers, who are doing well”. “We are also investigating to determine the causes of the incident”, he added. Lima firefighters said the alert was sounded at 3:25 p.m. (8:25 p.m. GMT) and four ambulances and rescue units were deployed.
Footage taken by witnesses to the crash and broadcast by television channels shows the plane — an Airbus A320, according to aircraft tracking websites — at full speed for takeoff hitting a truck traveling by brisk pace and cutting him off. The landing gear damaged, the plane continued its course, rubbing the runway with the right wing, raising sprays of fire. Once its course stopped, dense smoke emerged from the device which caught fire.
Many flights have been canceled while others have been diverted to Pisco airport, located 250 km south of the Peruvian capital. International connections, especially with North America, are also disrupted as Lima is a hub for connections in the region.
In October, a LATAM plane with 48 passengers on board made an emergency landing in Asuncion after flying through a severe storm in the air.