San Jose, Costa Rica –
A DHL cargo jet skidded off the runway and broke in two while landing at San Jose International Airport on Thursday, shutting down the airport but not injuring the crew.
The fire department said the Boeing 757 had taken off from Juan Santamaria airport just west of the capital, but decided to turn back after discovering a hydraulic system failure.
Hector Chaves, director of the Costa Rican Fire Department, said that upon landing, the plane skidded, flipped and broke in half, exposing the cargo.
“The units mobilized to remove the pilot and co-pilot,” Chaves said. “Then they put foam on to prevent spills and now they’re building an earthen levee to prevent any fuel from getting into the drainage system.”
A spokesman for freight carrier DHL said both pilots were unharmed but one was undergoing medical examination as a precaution.
DHL spokesman Daniel McGrath said the company is working with airport authorities to move planes so flights can resume. He said an investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the incident.
DHL is a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Group.
Luis Miranda, Costa Rica’s deputy director of civil aviation, said the plane was only about 35 miles from the airport when they asked for permission to return to its scheduled flight to Guatemala City. He said the pilot and co-pilot were the only crew members on the plane, carrying only about two and a half hours of fuel. .
Airport management said the crash will keep the airport closed with incoming and outgoing flights until at least 6 p.m. Some flights will be diverted to Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, about a block from San Jose about 125 miles northwest.