Tuesday night, a plane was trying to land on a short runway in a rainstorm at the Sao Paulo Congonhas airport, when it ran into an airline building and a gas station and burst into flames. The TAM Airlines Airbus-320, which had come from Porto Alegre in Southern Brazil, had 186 people on the plane, and it is unknown how many people were in the building that was hit.
Witnesses said they saw the plane land and skid across the runway. Some stated it was going so fast they thought the plane was trying to take off. Authorities have announced that there is no possibility that anyone on the plane survived because the fire reached temperatures over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
The newly resurfaced runway had just been reopened after weeks of repairs. Investigators are going to look into the possibility that aviation authorities reopened the runway before all necessary repairs were made. The runway has been repeatedly criticized for being to short.
Pilots call it the “aircraft carrier” – it’s so short and surrounded by heavily populated neighborhoods that they’re told to take off again and fly around if they overshoot the first 1,000 feet of runway.
In February, a court in Brazil banned large aircrafts from landing at the Congonhas airport for safety concerns. There was much opposition to the decision, and an appeals court eventually overturned the decision.
According to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silve, president of Brazil, this accident has been Brazil’s most deadly air disaster ever. Three days of national mourning have been announced in Brazil. The U.S National Transportation Safety Board is helping with with rescue and salvage efforts.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Airlines, Cruises, Buses, and Other Mass Transit Accidents.