WORLD NEWS
07/31/2018 18:14 EDT | Updated 08/01/2018 08:20 EDT

Aeroméxico Plane Crashes In Northwest Mexico With 103 Aboard; No Fatalities

At least eighty-five people were injured when a flight to Mexico City crash-landed in a field soon after takeoff from Durango.

A plane crash in the northwest Mexican state of Durango on Tuesday left at least 85 people injured, two critically, according to officials. There were no reported deaths.

Aeroméxico Flight 2431, carrying 103 people, crash-landed shortly after taking off from Guadalupe Victoria Durango International Airport, news outlets reported Tuesday. Earlier tallies of those aboard did not include two minors.

“Fortunately, we have now found all 103 — now we know where each one is — this gives us a lot of tranquillity,” Durango state Gov. Jose Aispuro said, according to The Associated Press.

There were no reported fatalities according to Aispuro, Secretary of Communications and Transportation Gerardo Ruiz Esparza and the airline. Mexico’s Red Cross said Tuesday afternoon that paramedics had taken 27 injured people to area hospitals.

“We deeply regret this accident,” Aeroméxico said in a statement obtained by Reuters. “The families of all those affected are in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

Ninety-nine passengers and four crew members were aboard the aircraft, according to Aeroméxico. Officials initially reported there had been 97 passengers aboard, but later updated the count to include two additional minors. It’s unclear how many Americans were aboard at the time. 

Passengers recounted the brief flight to local news outlets, describing some of the injuries among their fellow travelers.

“The people were panicked. There was another family with three kids and another man whose head was all bloody,” Jackeline Flores, a passenger on the flight, told Univision. She said authorities arrived about 20 minutes after the crash and helped them evacuate. “We walked, we arrived at a little white [house] and we waited for the rain to stop and someone to help us. We started to pray while we watched how the plane was burning.”

“I feel blessed and grateful to God,” Flores later told Reuters.

KEVIN ALCANTAR via Getty Images
“I feel blessed and grateful to God,” one passenger told Reuters after the crash.

Alberto Herrera, an American survivor of the crash, described the terrifying ordeal Wednesday during an appearance on NBC’s “Today.”

“As the plane was hitting the ground, myself included, we started screaming obscenities because we didn’t know what was going on,” Herrera said. “We were bracing for impact. Once the actual plane stopped, we could see the flames on either side of the engine.”

“The cabin just started filling with black smoke,” he continued. “We wanted to try to find the nearest exit. As I was walking toward the back, I was checking to see if anyone was knocked out or anything or if anyone needed assistance. ... I feel that it’s kind of a miracle that we all made it, so it’s just a blessing that I’m here.”

At least two people were in critical condition after the accident, including a pilot who was undergoing surgery for a spinal injury, Fernando Ríos, a spokesman for Mexico’s Health Department, told The New York Times.

Grupo Fórmula, a Spanish-language radio station, reported that the incident occurred just a few minutes after takeoff, and the Times reported the plane appeared to hit the ground nose-first just a few hundred yards from the runway. 

Some described marble-sized hail falling as the plane took off, the AP reported. Aispiro said the plane crash-landed into a grassy field and skidded horizontally, which allowed emergency slides to be deployed before the aircraft caught on fire.

The airport operator said in Spanish on Twitter that preliminary evidence suggested the Embraer 190 malfunctioned amid bad weather. Video footage of the Durango sky appeared to show a strong storm gathering at the time of the crash.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed well wishes for everyone onboard and said he had instructed federal agencies to coordinate a response.

“All my solidarity and wishes of fast recovery for the wounded,” he wrote on Twitter late Tuesday.

This article has been updated throughout.

Hayley Miller contributed reporting.