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Plane Crashes Into Micronesian Lagoon After Missing Runway

An Air Niugini flight crashed into a lagoon after missing the runway due to bad weather.

Thankfully, it’s not often that flyers need to remember that their seats can be used as a floatation device. Unfortunately, a watery fate met Air Niugini flight PX73 last Friday as the plane was forced to make a water landing due to a sudden and dramatic change in weather.

Flight PX73 was on final approach to Chuuk Airport at Weno Island, Micronesia when local weather conditions went from “fine” to “raining cats and dogs.” The specific details leading up to the crash are unknown, but it’s assumed that the pilot lost visibility with the relatively small runway and was forced to ditch in the lagoon adjacent of the airport.

According to CNN, Air Niugini released a statement saying the Boeing 737-800 aircraft "landed short of the runway." On board were 47 people, including 35 passengers and 12 crewmembers.

As soon as the aircraft stopped moving in the water, local fishermen immediately sprang into action and mounted a rescue effort. All but one of the 47 people were rescued, with one unidentified male unaccounted for.

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Eight passengers were taken to local hospital for treatment with four having serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The rapid evacuation was possible as the plane floated for several minutes, with passengers able to use the emergency wing exits and one front exit to evacuate the aircraft. Waiting fishermen were able to bring passengers to shore on small boats, and were even able to rescue some of their luggage as well.

Eventually, the 737 sank below the waves. It was initially assumed that all passengers were able to escape, but it was later revealed that one was unaccounted for. His body was later identified by divers searching the wreckage.

The Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre is still gathering information from local residents on just what happened to the aircraft. Air Niugini has requested help from the US Navy in retrieving the onboard flight recorder which will shed more light on whether or not the aircraft missed the runway entirely or intentionally ditched in the lagoon.

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