A jetliner heading to the popular Canary Islands vacation resort crashed during takeoff on Wednesday, turning a wooded area off the end of a runway into a hellish scene of charred bodies and smouldering wreckage. Some 153 were believed dead ÃÂ Spain`s worst air disaster in nearly 25 years.
Only 19 people survived the mid afternoon crash of the Spanair MD-82 at Madrid`s Barajas International Airport, and some were in critical condition, said Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez, whose department oversees civil aviation in Spain.
The airline didn`t release a death toll, but said the plane carried 172 crew members and passengers, including two babies and 20 youngsters. There was no word on how many children died.
As smoke billowed from the wreckage, dozens of fire trucks and ambulances rushed to help, lining a nearby road and filling a field next to a swath of charred vegetation. Helicopters flew over dumping water on fires. `The scene is devastating,` said Pablo Albella, an emergency rescue worker. `The fuselage is destroyed. The plane burned. I have seen a kilometer of charred land and few whole pieces of the fuselage. It is all destruction.`
Text and Images:AP
Image: The tail of the Spanair jet that crashed on take off at Madrid`s Barajas airport is seen on Wednesday, August 20, 2008.