A passenger plane has crashed in the capital of Mexico’s Durango state, just moments after take-off.
All 103 passengers and crew on board the Aeroméxico flight survived the crash but 97 of them are injured.
State Governor José Rosas Aispuro said the plane was hit by a gust of wind, which caused a sudden descent. Its left wing then touched the ground and two engines came off. Most of the passengers were able to walk away before it caught fire. Aeroméxico flight AM2431 was flying from Guadalupe Victoria International Airport in Durango to Mexico City when it crashed at around 16:00 local time (21:00 GMT).
Initial reports spoke of 97 passengers and four crew, but Governor Rosas said that two children were also on board – bringing the total to 103.
The plane’s pilot is one of two who were seriously injured. He needed an operation on his spine but is reportedly in a stable condition. A young girl sustained burns.
Ninety-seven other people were taken to hospital but most had only “very light” injuries, officials said.
‘We have to jump’
Passenger Jacqueline Flores described the moment she knew something was wrong.
“When we were already aloft, up high, it felt like the plane was going to level out but just then it plunged to the ground,” she told the AFP news agency.
“I think we fell back on the runway because it was a hard surface, then we skidded on the ground until it stopped,” the 47-year-old said.
“I undid my seatbelt and saw flames, and realised we had to jump. There was a hole right next to us where the plane had broken up. I told my girl, ‘We have to jump over here’, and we jumped,” she added.
A local politician on board the flight, Rómulo Campuzano, said he had been “very lucky because I was able to get out by the main door”. He said the door had been torn off and was lying next to the plane “acting as a ramp”.
“I walked away from the plane, turning around to see if the other passengers were getting out, too. It started raining very hard and I think that helped put out the flames,” he said. Governor Rosas said the crew were able to deploy the evacuation slides shortly after the crash, allowing those still on board to leave the plane safely before the flames spread.
The airline Aeroméxico has a good safety record, according to local media. Its last deadly accident was in 1981, when 32 people were killed when an Aeroméxico plane crashed on landing in northern Chihuahua state.
The airport operator, Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte, said early data suggested bad weather was the cause, and that the plane had taken off during a heavy hailstorm before being forced to attempt an emergency landing.
One passenger said the plane had been hit by lightning.
In a statement, Aeroméxico said they “deeply regret” the accident, while Brazilian plane company Embraer said they had sent a team to the crash site.