AMSTERDAM - DOZENS of investigators worked overnight probing the wreckage of the Turkish Airways jet that crashed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, killing nine and injuring 86, officials said on Thursday. And one safety official said the death toll could easily have been much higher.
'It is a real wreck,' Fred Sanders, a spokesman for the Dutch Safety Board told AFP on Thursday. 'That so many people were able to walk out was truly remarkable. Some have called it a miracle.'
The Turkish Airways jet crashed into a muddy field as it came in to land at the airport Wednesday morning, in what survivors and witnesses likened to a brick falling from the sky.
Witnesses described seeing the tail of the Boeing 737-800 hit the edge of a busy road in light fog and drag along the ground before the twin-engine airliner broke in three just short of the runway.
Of the nine dead, three were crew members, said officials. And of the 86 injured, six were in a critical condition and 25 were serious. One saving grace had been the fact that the plane did not catch fire, said Mr Sanders.
'It may have something to do with the fact that it came down in a muddy field rather than on a concrete road or on a landing strip where sparks would have increased the chances of a fire.' It appeared that the plane had fell at a very straight angle, he added.
'This may indicate that the plane had lost its forward momentum, that there was no motor function.' Sanders said the investigation at the crash scene would take a few days, after which the wreckage would be taken to a different spot for further probing.
'We will have an official finding probably in about a year, but we should be able to give an interim finding within weeks.' Accident investigators worked all night at the crash site looking for clues as to what went wrong, Rob Stenacker, a spokesman for the Schiphol police force told AFP.
'They worked the whole night, without a break, some with only one cup of coffee, and will continue today,' he said.
About 40 investigators were taking part of the probe led by the Dutch Safety Board supported by local and airport police teams. 'The cause of the crash is not yet known, and we have no hypothesis at this stage,' said Stenacker. -- AFP