A commuter plane crashed in heavy fog in Ireland on Thursday, killing six people in the worst such accident in Ireland in 43 years and one which narrowly missed involving Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.
Twelve people were on board the turboprop aircraft from Belfast to Cork when it crashed as it made its third attempt to touch down at Cork airport, flipping on to its roof.
Brendan McAleese, a relative of Irish President Mary McAleese’s husband Martin, was among those killed in the first major air accident in Ireland since 1968.
“I am especially conscious of the pain being experienced tonight by all of the bereaved as one of the deceased was Brendan McAleese, my husband Martin’s cousin,” the president said.
Irish police said the dead were all men — one was Spanish and the others were British, three of them from Northern Ireland. A spokesman added that four of the injured were in a serious condition.
McGuinness, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, offered his condolences to the victims’ families and revealed that he had been due to take the fateful flight as he campaigned for his Sinn Fein party ahead of Irish elections on Feb. 25, but changed his plans.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) chief executive Eamonn Brennan said that visibility was so bad that the control tower had been unable to see the aircraft when it crashed, explaining that the “wind was very light, but the visibility was very poor.”
The pilots had tried to land on two different runways without success, but the plane crashed next to a taxiway while making a third attempt, the IAA said.