Northern Ireland

Cork air crash: Survivor speaks of plane horror

Six people died when the plane crashed in heavy fog in February 2011 Image copyright other
Image caption Six people died when the plane crashed in heavy fog in February 2011

A County Antrim man, who survived the Cork air crash in 2011, has been recalling how he thought he was going to suffocate in mud.

Six people died when the plane being used by Manx2 crashed on approach to Cork airport after flying from Belfast.

An inquest earlier this week returned verdicts of accidental death.

Laurence Wilson, who was one of six survivors, had been sitting near the back of the plane and escaped without serious injury.

He told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme it was an horrific ordeal.

"The plane had broken at the wings and it had dug into the ground and all the mud had come up into the airplane.

"Really that was my biggest problem. I was suffocating in mud."

The 19-seater plane was on its way from Belfast, with ten passengers and two crew, when it crashed in dense fog after failing to land on its third attempt at Cork Airport in February, 2011.

The six who died were Michael Evans, Brendan McAleese, Pat Cullinan, all from Northern Ireland, Richard Noble from Yorkshire, pilot Jordi Gola Lopez, from Spain and Andy Cantle, from the north east of England.

Mr Wilson described how the plane wobbled, before the plane dived into the runway nose first and he thought his "number was up".

"That's really how the ones at the front were killed and the ones at the back were nearly all saved," he said.

"The initial impact, although it's really only split seconds, you did feel the roof of the plane. Because the plane was upside down, the roof was actually crushing us up in, so it was pushing our heads into our bodies, we were bent backwards.

"That was probably the worst bit."

'Completely black'

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Media captionLaurence Wilson told Wendy Austin that he thought he was going to suffocate in the mud

He said he remembered the emergency services hammering on the windows of the plane.

"Whenever something like that happens, you don't know if it's in an airport or you've crashed in the middle of a field. So to hear people banging on the outside was such a relief. They were saying: 'Don't panic, don't panic, we're here.'

"The whole place was completely black, you couldn't see a thing. So whenever the daylight came in, that's whenever I seen the mayhem that there was."

Mr Wilson told the BBC that the inquests earlier this week had been particularly difficult.

"As a survivor, whenever you hear the six names being called out and then an autopsy report on each one that's when you really take a suck of air in and think: 'Whoa, my name could have been in among that. So that's whenever it really, really hammered home. It was pretty harrowing."

The survivors get together on the anniversary of the crash each year.

Mr Wilson said he had flown since the accident - but requested to sit at the back of the aircraft.

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