Georgetown: A Caribbean Airlines jet coming from New York crashed and broke in two while landing in Guyana with 163 people aboard on Saturday, causing several injuries but no deaths, said President Bharrat Jagdeo.
The Boeing 737-800 apparently overshot the 2,200-meter runway at Cheddi Jagan International Airport in rainy weather and barreled through a chain-link fence.
It barely missed a 60-meter ravine that could have resulted in dozens of fatalities, he said.
"We are very, very grateful that more people were not injured," he said as authorities temporarily closed the airport, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and delaying dozens of flights. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
Authorities struggled at first to remove passengers without adequate field lights and other emergency equipment. About 100 people received medical attention, with four hospitalised for serious injuries, said Devant Maharaj, transportation minister in Trinidad, where Caribbean Airlines is based.
He said the company is sending a team to Guyana to help investigate the crash. No further details were available. Maharaj spoke at a press conference in Trinidad and took no questions, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Among the injured was Geeta Ramsingh, 41, of Philadelphia, who said passengers had just started to applaud the touchdown "when it turned to screams," she said, pointing to bruises on her knees. She said she hopped onto the wing and then onto the dirt road outside the runway fence.
"I am upset that no one came to rescue us in the dark, but a taxi driver appeared from nowhere and charged me $ 20 to take me to the terminal. I had to pay, but in times of emergencies, you don't charge people for a ride," she said, sitting on a chair in the arrival area surrounded by relatives. She was returning to her native country for only the second time in 30 years.