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Turkish Airlines plane crashes, 75 dead, 5 survivors

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Wreckage of the Turkish Airlines plane crash

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Aftermath video of wreckage from CNN Turk of the site where a Turkish Airlines flight crashed on approach to the airport in Diyarbakir, Turkey (January 8)
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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (CNN) -- A Turkish Airlines flight carrying 80 people crashed Wednesday on approach to the airport in this southeastern Turkey city during extremely foggy weather, authorities said.

Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim said 74 people aboard Turkish Airlines Flight 634 were killed in the crash; a 75th victim, a 2-year-old girl, was declared brain dead after emergency surgery. Five survived, including one of the crew members, Yildirim said.

Those five, Aliye Il, Celal Toprak, Murat Karamutlu, Abdullah Altindag and Gencel Gunes, were hospitalized in serious condition with injuries ranging from burns to broken bones.

Speaking to a reporter by phone from her hospital bed, the only woman survivor, Aliye Il, said she was ejected from the plane and found herself sitting in the grass right after the crash. Two other men on the same flight were nearby, she said.

She said she heard two explosions coming from the crashed plane before two soldiers rescued her.

The bodies of those killed in the crash have been removed and taken to a nearby university sports center, which was transformed into a makeshift morgue, authorities said.

The Avro RJ-100 was carrying 75 passengers and five crew members on a flight directly from Istanbul to Diyarbakir. It crashed at 8:28 p.m., just two minutes before its scheduled landing.

Eight of those aboard were said to be from outside of Turkey. "We may have identified at least one American," a State Department official said in Washington.

Yildirim said the cause of the crash was under investigation, and authorities are hoping the plane's black box may illuminate what went wrong.

"We are not sure why it happened," Yildirim told reporters. "It was very foggy. It might be the reason, but we will tell you the details later."

The plane crashed in a military area near the Diyarbakir airport, and soldiers helped evacuate the injured. Witnesses described the crash as a "bad landing," with some reporting that the plane broke in two.

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A grief-stricken man is comforted at Diyarbakir Airport after hearing about the plane crash.

The flight had left Istanbul at 6:35 p.m. for the nearly two-hour flight. Diyarbakir is near the Turkish border with Iraq, and has a large Kurdish population.

Turkish Airlines has had a history of air problems. Its most recent crash was April 1999 when a Boeing 737, empty but for six crew members, went down in southern Turkey, killing everyone inside. Another crash in southeastern Turkey in 1994 killed 57 people when the plane hit a hill during its fourth attempt to land.

The airline's worst accident occurred in March 1974, when all 346 people aboard a DC-10 were killed in one of aviation's deadliest crashes ever. In that accident, the Turkish Airlines plane experienced sudden decompression shortly after takeoff in Paris and then slammed into a park in Ermenonville, France.



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