Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 lands short of runway 04 at Chuuk Airport (Micronesia)

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On 28 September, an Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 (P2-PXE) from Pohnpei to Chuuk – two islands in Micronesia – lost height shortly before landing at runway 04 of Chuuk Airport. Flight PX56 crashed approximately a quarter mile short of the runway, in a lagoon. Many people – and the U.S. Navy UCT 2 – came to the rescue with boats, all 35 passengers and 12 crew members were safely rescued but some of the passengers have been injured.

Air Niugini confirmed there were 35 passengers and 12 crew members and said it had received reports that “the weather was very poor with heavy rain and reduced visibility at the time of incident.

U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 rendered immediate assistance to the passengers and crew of Air Nuigini flight PX56, after it crashed into the lagoon near Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia.

Flight PX56 crashed approximately a quarter mile short of the runway, near where UCT 2 was conducting operations. The Sailors assisted local authorities by shuttling passengers and crew to shore using their inflatable boat prior to the plane sinking in approximately 100 feet of water. UCT 2’s embedded Chief hospital corpsman provided medical attention to at least one passenger who sustained minor injuries.

Bill Jaynes, managing editor of a Micronesia-based newspaper, explains what happened: “It is just surreal, I thought we landed hard until I saw water was coming in into the plane. I thought that this is not the way it supposed to happen. We came in very low, unfortunately the flight attendants panicked and started yelling. I started helping the best as I could.

I only have a head injury, some other passengers were pretty severely injured but no deaths is what I heard.

While we were landing the aircraft hit the end of the runway, that’s the only scenario as I can imagine. We were able to get out of the aircraft as the water only reached up to thigh height.

We could evacuate via the emergency doors, local fisherman came to the rescue with boats. I was really impressed with their response.

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