Aeromexico plane crashes in Mexico's Durango state, dozens injured, no deaths

MEXICO CITY, July 31 (Reuters) - Dozens of people were injured when a packed Aeromexico-operated Embraer jet crashed right after takeoff in Mexico's state of Durango on Tuesday, but authorities said most were not seriously hurt and there were no fatalities.

The mid-sized jet was almost full, with 97 passengers and four crew members, when it came down at around 4 p.m. local time (2100 GMT), airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte said in a statement.

Passenger Jackeline Flores told reporters the plane came down in heavy rain. She and her daughter escaped from a hole in the fuselage as the aircraft filled up with smoke and flames, she said.

"A little girl who left the plane was crying because her legs were burned," said Flores, who did not give the spelling of her name and said she was Mexican but lived in Bogota, Colombia. The plane had barely left the ground in heavy rain when it came down, she said.

Aeromexico plane crashes in Mexico’s Durango state

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Aeromexico plane crashes in Mexico's Durango state
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Aeromexico plane crashes in Mexico's Durango state
Picture showing the wreckage of a plane that crashed with 97 passengers and four crew on board on take off at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by Kevin ALCANTAR / KEVIN ALCANTAR DRONES DURANGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEVIN ALCANTAR/AFP/Getty Images)

A person watches as smoke billows above a site where an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in Mexico's northern state of Durango, July 31, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

(Francisco Javier Castrellon/via REUTERS)

Corporaciones de emergencia y seguridad se encuentran en el km17 de la autopista Durango - Torreón atendiendo accid… https://t.co/lZizrQ4y4E
Picture released by Contacto Hoy showing an injured man at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed during take off on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by STR / CONTACTO HOY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / CONTACTO HOY' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Ambulances are seen at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed on take off near the city's airport on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by LULU MURILLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LULU MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Fire engines are seen near the wreckage of a plane (out of frame) that crashed with 97 passengers and four crew on board on take off at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by Kevin ALCANTAR / KEVIN ALCANTAR DRONES DURANGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEVIN ALCANTAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Ambulances are seen at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed on take off near the city's airport on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by LULU MURILLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LULU MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers queue at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed during take off on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by LULU MURILLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LULU MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Picture showing the wreckage of a plane (L) that crashed with 97 passengers and four crew on board on take off at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by Kevin ALCANTAR / KEVIN ALCANTAR DRONES DURANGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEVIN ALCANTAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stands guard at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed on take off near the city's airport on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by Lulu MURILLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LULU MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Ambulances are seen at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed on take off near the city's airport on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by LULU MURILLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LULU MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture showing the wreckage of a plane (C) that crashed with 97 passengers and four crew on board on take off at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by Kevin ALCANTAR / KEVIN ALCANTAR DRONES DURANGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEVIN ALCANTAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture released by Contacto Hoy showing an injured man walking behind an ambulance at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed during take off on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by STR / CONTACTO HOY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / CONTACTO HOY' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
An ambulance is een at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed on take off near the city's airport on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by Lulu MURILLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LULU MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture released by Contacto Hoy showing a man being rushed into a vehicle at the airport of Durango, in northern Mexico, after a plane carrying 97 passengers and four crew crashed during take off on July 31, 2018. - Dozens of people were injured as an airliner crashed on takeoff during a heavy hail storm in northern Mexico, engulfing the plane in flames, Aeromexico airline and passengers said Tuesday. (Photo by STR / CONTACTO HOY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / CONTACTO HOY' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Flores said her passport and documents burned in the fire.

"I feel blessed and grateful to God," she said.

TV images showed the severely damaged body of the plane after it came to rest in scrubland and a column of smoke rose into the sky.

The aircraft made an emergency landing about 6 miles (10 km) from the airport, said Alejandro Cardoza, a spokesman for the state's civil protection agency. Other authorities said the crash was closer to the airport.

Cardoza said in an interview that around 85 people had suffered mostly light injuries, adding that the fire resulting from the accident had been put out. The civil protection agency said 37 people were hospitalized, while the state health department said two passengers were in a critical condition.

"Many managed to leave the plane on foot," Cardoza said.

The airport operator attributed the crash to bad weather, citing preliminary reports. The plane had barely taken off when it felt like it was hit by a strong air current, another passenger told network Televisa.

"We deeply regret this accident. The families of all those affected are in our thoughts and in our hearts," Aeromexico said in a statement.

The head of Mexico's civil aviation agency, Luis Gerardo Fonseca, said it could take months to know the cause of the accident. Speaking to Televisa, he said the plane's voice and data recorders would be recovered once rescue efforts were completed.

Flight number 2431 was an Embraer 190 bound for Mexico City when it crashed, Aeromexico said on Twitter. A spokesman for the Mexican airline declined to disclose the passenger list or the nationalities of those on board.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said he did not currently have confirmation of whether any American citizens were involved in the accident.

The Embraer 190 has been involved in only one fatal crash, which occurred when a Henan Airlines flight overshot a Chinese runway in a 2010 accident, according to a summary by the Aviation Safety Network.

Aeromexico leased the 10-year-old aircraft involved in Tuesday’s incident from Republic Airlines in the United States in 2014, according to data on Planespotters.net.

Embraer said late on Tuesday that it had sent a team of technicians to the scene of the accident and stood ready to support the investigation. The aircraft, serial number 190-173, was delivered in May 2008, the company said in a statement.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter that he had instructed the defense, civil protection and transportation ministries to aid in the response to the crash. 

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