Zest undershots Caticlan as it attempts to land in bad weather

Zest Air MA-60 sit its belly at Caticlan after a hard landing

MALAY, AKLAN — A small passenger plane serving the resort island of Boracay missed the runway on landing yesterday, leaving at least two passengers seriously injured, officials said.

Hospitals in the town of Malay and nearby Kalibo city treated the Zest Airways plane’s 24 passengers and five crew for various injuries after the plane made the hard landing and smashed into a concrete wall.

Two of the passengers had sustained serious fractures and cuts, officials in Malay said. The rest were treated for minor injuries and discharged.

The nationalities of those seriously injured could not be immediately determined.

The Chinese-made MA60 turboprop was flying in holidaymakers from Manila on their way to Boracay, airport officials said.

The cause of the crash, which caused the closure of the airport, the country’s second busiest after Manila, was not immediately known.

A Canadian passenger who asked not to be named told AFP the pilot appeared to have misjudged the landing due to heavy winds.

The plane landed on the grass, well short of the runway. Its left wing ploughed into a ditch, preventing the plane from hitting the airport terminal, witnesses said.

The plane instead smashed into an airport wall, narrowly missing the airport restaurant, an AFP photographer on the scene said.

"The wind was just too strong, especially during this time of the year," said Alfred M. Yao, chairman of Zest Airways.

"But everything is fine. Most of the passengers suffered only slight injuries," he said.

Mr. Yao, who also owns juice maker Zest-O Corp., said the airline would shoulder the injured passengers’ hospital expenses. "We’ll also attend to the passengers personally," he said.

Meanwhile, Avelino L. Zapanta, president and chief executive officer of South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR), another frequent service provider to the island resort, said in a statement: "The aircraft that had an accident in Caticlan [Boracay] is Zest Airways. SEAIR is shifting all its nine flights to Kalibo today due to the closure of Caticlan." AFP

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