DHL plane breaks in two during an emergency landing in Costa Rica airport

SAN JOSE: A DHL cargo plane carrying mail and packages skidded off the runway and broke in two during an emergency landing in Costa Rica on Thursday (Apr 8), causing the temporary closure of the international airport in San Jose.

Smoke was billowing from the bright yellow plane of German logistics giant DHL as it ground to a halt, having slid off the runway when it spun and broke up around the rear wheels.

Images from Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion showed the plane being doused with firefighting foam on a grassy field next to a runway. The tail had detached and a wing had broken, the photos show.

Two crew members aboard were “in good health”, said Costa Rica’s firefighters chief, Hector Chaves.

Nonetheless, the Guatemalan pair were sent to hospital as a precaution “for a medical check-up,” according to Guido Vasquez, a Red Cross worker.

The pilot was shaken up but both crew were conscious and “remember everything vividly”, added Vasquez.

The accident happened just before 10.30am after the Boeing-757 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.

The crew had reportedly alerted local authorities to a hydraulic problem.

The accident caused operations to shut down at the country’s biggest airport until around 3.30pm, affecting about 8,500 passengers and 57 commercial and cargo flights, Aeris said.

Activities have now gone back to normal, “as well for the arrivals as for the departures”, said Ricardo Hernandez, general manager of Aeris, the public company which manages the airport.

A Boeing spokeswoman said it would defer questions to investigating authorities.

DHL and airport authorities said they were working together to move the aircraft, although they said it was not affecting operations.

“DHL’s incident response team has been activated and an investigation will be conducted with the relevant authorities to determine what happened,” DHL said.

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