A Tunisian passenger plane carrying 38 people crash-landed in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday while trying to make an emergency landing in Sicily because of engine trouble. Italian officials say 13 people were killed, three are missing and 23 survived.
Survivors were in shock. Their clothes ripped, many of them yelled in pain from the burns they suffered, others were crying or had blood on their faces. Those who managed to get through this ordeal say they cannot believe they're still alive.
Some say they were able to get on to the wings of the plane as the plane floated in the sea. Rescuers on speedboats arrived at the scene quickly. They helped those still alive while the dead were lined up on the dock at the port.
One official said coordination of rescue efforts both at sea and on land was quick. Unfortunately it happened, it's serious.
Some of the injured suffered burns and are in serious condition. They have been taken to the hospitals in Palermo. Family members and friends tried desperately to obtain information. They waited in anguish at Bari airport for any news.
The charter plane, operated by Tuninter, had taken off from the southern Italian airport of Bari. It was to have landed in the Tunisian resort of Djerba. All 38 passengers on board were Italian.
Soon after take off, the pilot reported trouble in one of the engines and requested permission to carry out an emergency landing at Palermo airport in Sicily. But then he said he was going to have to attempt a sea landing because his only remaining engine was losing power.
A man and his girlfriend suffered only minor injuries and described what happened. The man said one engine didn't work. He said passengers had been told to fasten their seat belts and remain calm because the plane would be landing in Palermo.
Then he said the other engine failed as well and the plane began to nose-dive into the sea. There were screams and panic on board as people became aware the plane was about to crash.
When it impacted with the water the plane split into three parts. The tail and pilot's cabin sunk. Pieces of the plane could be seen floating in the sea. Civil aviation authorities here say it was a very serious accident.
Another official said the plane had passed all safety inspections and had last been checked in March of this year. An inquiry will be opened to ascertain exactly what went wrong. Meanwhile, the prosecutor of Palermo has ruled out that it may have been an act of terrorism.