GEORGETOWN, Guyana — All Canadian passengers aboard a Toronto-bound flight with a mechanical problem escaped injury when their plane skidded off the runway at Guyana's main international airport, federal officials said Friday.
Global Affairs confirmed that 82 Canadians were on the Fly Jamaica aircraft when it made an emergency landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Georgetown, Guyana, damaging the aircraft's right wing and engine.
But while airline officials reported two of the 128 people on the plane were taken to hospital as a precaution, Global Affairs said all Canadians on board were believed to be unhurt. A spokesman said consular assistance would be available to those who needed it.
Invor Bedessee, a Toronto resident, took to social media shortly after the incident to post an account of his flight.
"I am all safe, but shaking,'' he wrote in a Facebook post. "We were in the air flying for 15 minutes and captain said there is a hydraulic problem, and turned the plane back ... captain dumped fuel and then landed.''
Airline spokesman Carl Bowen said the Boeing 757-200 aircraft returned to the airport less than 20 minutes after taking off around 2:10 a.m. local time, but overshot the runway upon landing.
Images posted on the airport's Facebook page and various sites showed the plane appearing to have gone through a chain link fence, with one of its engines tilted upward and resting on the fencing. An emergency inflatable slide had been deployed from one of the front doors.
Bowen said two elderly passengers were taken to the hospital as a precaution and the plane was safely evacuated.
"We are making alternative arrangements to fly out the passengers,'' he said.
Hotline for family members
The airport said on its Facebook page that the injuries were considered to be non-life-threatening, but otherwise offered no further details on the crash.
Guyana's public infrastructure minister, David Patterson, planned to provide a detailed report on the incident Friday. The airport has also set up a hotline for family members looking for assistance and information.
The incident is not the first at Guyana's largest airport.
In July 2011, a Boeing 737-800 aircraft belonging to Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines crashed at Cheddi Jagan after landing too far down the runway and running out of braking space, injuring several people. The runway then was 2,255 metres long, but is currently being extended to 3,048 metres.