‘The most frightening bit was when someone said plane was on fire’

Survivor of plane crash tells of fear of being burned alive after surviving initial impact

The scene at Cork Airport after six people died on February 10th, 2011. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The scene at Cork Airport after six people died on February 10th, 2011. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 15:14

A survivor of the Manx2 aircrash at Cork Airport which claimed the lives of six people today spoke of her horror and fear that she was going to be burned alive in the plane after surviving the initial impact when the plane crashed and flipped over on to its roof.

Heather Elliott (56), originally from Cork but living in Belfast, had boarded the Manx2 flight at George Best Airport to travel to Cork to visit her mother in Kinsale when the crash happened on the morning of February 10th, 2011.

Ms Elliott told the Coroner for South Cork, Frank O’Connell at the inquest how the most terrifying moment of the entire tragedy was the immediate aftermath of the crash when she realised the engines of the plane were on fire.

“The most frightening bit was when somebody said: ‘She’s going to go up’,

meaning the plane was going to go on fire. I could smell fuel and fumes. I was so terrified that I had survived the crash and now would be burned alive,” she said.

Ms Elliott told how she had struck up a conversation in the departure lounge in Belfast with fellow passenger, Laurence Wilson (58) and in the impact, he had ended up on top of her, weighing down on her neck and shoulders but they both reassured each other they were alive.

“Laurence and I were speaking to each other. We freed our hands and now we could hold each other hands. Laurence and I said a prayer together and then we heard voices and banging outside and we know that somebody was coming to help.”

Ms Elliott had earlier told the inquest of her impression of what happened when the Fairchild SA227-BC Metro piloted by Captain Jordi Sola Lopez (31) from Manresa in Spain, and co-pilot Andrew Cantle (27) from Sunderland in the UK, attempted to land in thick fog.

“The pilots told us that they were going to try again (after the first two attempts).

I don’t know which of them said it to us but they said the weather had improved and they were going to try again, and we went back down in quite thick fog,” said Ms Elliott.

“The thought crossed my mind that maybe I should brace myself. There was a bit of a niggle in my mind that something wasn’t right. I was concerned that the pilots couldn’t see where they were going, the fog was so thick.

“I remember the wheels being lowered and waiting for the thump on the ground but just before we were to land, there seemed to be a sharp turn to the left and then I think it did straighten up and then there was a thump and I thought we had landed.

“I was waiting for the thrust of the engines. It was like a car crash. I felt myself tumbling and the space around me getting smaller and everything came to a standstill. I realised I was alive and conscious and I knew I wasn’t badly hurt. I was in a kind of foetal position.”