Honduran airport reopens after crash

Other News Materials 3 June 2008 01:13 (UTC +04:00)

The Honduran capital's Toncontin International Airport reopened Monday to small and mid-sized planes, three days after a large jetliner overshot the runway, the AP reported.

The airport was closed after a Grupo Taca jet carrying 124 people ran off the runway and slammed into a busy street Friday. The crash left five people dead and dozens injured, including seven Americans, two Canadians and four Europeans.

The airport reopened only to planes carrying 42 people or less because there are questions about the safety of its short runway. Larger flights are being rerouted to San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras.

As a result, the San Pedro Sula airport was being flooded with passengers, more than 6,000 a day compared to 1,000 before.

The accident raised renewed questions about the safety of Toncontin for larger planes. President Manuel Zelaya says the U.S. Soto Cano air base will be used as a civil airport in two months and will take over larger flights that have gone to Toncontin.

Toncontin's short runway, primitive navigation equipment and neighboring hills make it one of the world's more dangerous international airports. It was built on the southern edge of hilly Tegucigalpa in 1948 with a runway less than 5,300 feet ( 1,600 meters) long.

The cause of the accident is being investigated.