Miracle in Micronesia?
All 47 passengers and crew members of a Boeing 737 that crash-landed Friday in the Pacific Ocean were safely evacuated after the aircraft landed in a lagoon between two small islands in Micronesia.
The Air Niugini passenger jet was winding up a routine flight when the pilots missed their target and landed short of the runway at Chuuk International Airport. Air Niugini, which is Papua New Guinea's national carrier, said in a statement that all 35 passengers and 12 crew members were safely evacuated.
"It's just surreal," said passenger Bill Jaynes. "I thought we landed hard, until I looked over and saw a hole in the side of the plane and water was coming in. And I thought, 'Well, this is not the way it is supposed to happen.'"
He said the plane had come in very low amid heavy rain and poor visibility.
The plane landed in a lagoon off the runway in water so shallow that the plane remained level and stable.
"The water was only up to about here on me inside the plane," Jaynes said, holding a hand up to his waist.
The crash was reminiscent of a similar crash landing nine years ago on the Hudson River in New York.
A U.S. Airways Airbus with 146 passengers and five crew members on board had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport when a flock of geese knocked out both engines, prompting the pilots to make an emergency landing in the river.
The safe evacuation of everyone on board led to the 2009 event being called "The Miracle on the Hudson."
On the Air Niugini flight, passengers and crew escaped through a single exit door. Local fishing boats that had rushed in toward the plane helped with rescue efforts and transported passengers to safety. Several passengers reported injuries.
Investigators are now questioning the pilots.