Two firefighters died when airliner hit firefighting vehicle on Lima airport runway
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On Friday November 18, a passenger airplane about to take of on the runway hit a firefighting truck and caught fire.
The accident occurred at Jorge Chávez International Airport in the capital of Peru. Flight LA2213 was allegedly taking off from Lima’s main airport and was headed to the Peruvian city of Juliaca, when a fire truck for unknown reasons entered the runway. According to Fire Engineering.com, both the airplane and the fire truck were in motion when the collision occurred. There were reportedly 102 passengers and six crew members on board the Airbus A320neo.
Passengers in the airport caught parts of the incident on video, and posted them on social media.
According to the local fire department, the incident was registered at 3:25 p.m. and four rescue units were sent to the scene of the incident.
Peru's Health Ministry initially said 20 passengers are being treated for injuries, two of them serious. Later, the ministry said 61 people had been taken to nearby medical clinics.
According to the Indian TV news station WION, the fire truck was travelling at high speed when the collision occurred.
It is currently unclear why the fire fighting vehicle was on the runway. The accident cost two firefighters' lives. Despite the tail of the airplane catching fire, no passengers or crew were killed.
During a news conference, Manuel Van Oordt, the CEO of Latam Airlines said the flight had been cleared for take-off, but didnt know why the fire truck had entered the runway while the airplane had started take off.
"We didn't ask for their services... No emergency was reported on the flight. It was a flight in optimal conditions to take off. It had authorization to take off and it encountered a truck on the runway and we don’t know what the truck was doing there... We have to investigate and establish why it was there.”
The prosecutors' office said it was investigating the incident as potential manslaughter, according to Reuters news agency.
According to BBC World, Lima Airport Partners (LAP) suspended flights until Saturday afternoon at the airport.
International flights were diverted to Colombia, Panama and various Peruvian cities including Iquitos, Pisco, and Arequipa.
In a statement Lima Airport Partners said:
"At this moment we are finding and investigating all the necessary factors that could determine the cause of this."
President Pedro Castillo paid tribute to the firefighters on social media.
"I express my heartfelt condolences to the relatives of Ángel Torres and Nicolás Santa Gadea, brave firefighters who died in the accident," he wrote on Twitter.