Air Niugini says all on board its Boeing 737-800 that landed in a lagoon short of the runway at Chuuk Airport in the Federated States of Micronesia have been rescued.
The incident occurred on Friday morning, when the 737, P2-PXE, was operating flight PX73 from Pohnpei, also part of the Federated States of Micronesia, to Chuuk. The flight was then scheduled to continue on to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.
However, the 737 ended in the lagoon alongside Chuuk Airport when attempting to land. Locals rushed to the aircraft in small boats to rescue passengers and crew, images published on social media showed.
“Air Niugini advises that its Boeing 737-800 series aircraft, P2-PXE landed short of the runway whilst landing at Chuuk Island of the Federated States of Micronesia this morning,” Air Niugini said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“Air Niugini can confirm that all on board were able to safely evacuate the aircraft. The airline is making all efforts to ensure the safety and immediate needs of our passengers and crew.
“Further information will be provided as it becomes available.”
Reports indicated there were 36 passengers and 11 crew on the flight.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said nine people were taken to hospital for treatment.
Some images posted to social media included:
PLANE CRASH / WATER LANDING
Air Niugini #PX73 ended up in the water near Chuuk International Airport, Micronesia. All passengers and crew reported safe. Initial reports indicate the flight was arriving and landed in the water.
??Guam Daily Post pic.twitter.com/H82JeslYxz
— Tom Podolec Aviation (@TomPodolec) September 28, 2018
Meanwhile, this video of the rescue effort was posted on Facebook:
Chuuk Airport has a single asphalt runway 04/22 that measures 1,831m in length.
The scenes were reminiscent of the US Airways flight 1549 in 2009, which landed on New York’s Hudson River after suffering a double engine failure shortly after takeoff due to birdstrike.
There was also a 2013 Lion Air flight that overshot the runway and ended up in water when attempting to land at Denpasar, with all on board rescued by small boats.