Plane splits in three after skidding off runway, leaving three dead and 179 injured

Chris Robertson, news reporter
There were no immediate reports of casualties after the crash

Three people were killed and 179 were injured when a plane skidded off an airport runway in Istanbul and split into three pieces.

The Turkish health minister said one person was dead at the Sabiha Gokcen airport.

Earlier, the government had said nobody had died in the crash.

The Pegasus Airlines flight, carrying 177 passengers and six crew members, had just arrived from the city of Izmir when it overshot the runway, according to Turkey's NTV television.

The fuselage caught fire following the crash, but the blaze has since been extinguished.

The airport has been closed, with flights being diverted to the other airport in the city.

Footage taken immediately after the crash shows passengers leaving the Boeing 737 through gaps in the fuselage.

Rescue crews gathered around the fuselage of the Pegasus Airlines aircraft as it was sprayed with fire hoses.

Meanwhile, masses of people shined torches over the plane, seemingly in an attempt to check for anyone left in the fuselage.

Paramedics were also on the scene with stretchers and appeared to make a rescue from the wreckage.

The plane which crashed was built at Boeing's Renton factory near Seattle, and took its first flight in 2009.

It was seemingly being leased to Pegasus Airlines by another firm, having previously been part of Air Berlin's fleet.

Sky correspondent Mark White said: "Looking at those images, and more clearly on the daytime images, that front section for instance - it's not just sheered away from the main fuselage of the aircraft but it's actually turned upside down," he said.

"The flight deck, the black area towards the bottom, that's the flight deck window - that should be the other way up, but it's been flipped around. So the flight crew and anyone in that section of the aircraft will have been thrown upside down as well".

Wednesday's incident comes only a month after another Pegasus plane came off the runway at the same airport - which resulted in no deaths or injuries.