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Azerbaijani Plane Crew Criticized Over Evacuation Delay

AZAL's Airbus-319 went off the runway in Istanbul.

AZAL's Airbus-319 went off the runway in Istanbul.

BAKU -- The head of the Istanbul airport says the crew of an Azerbaijani plane that went off a runway failed to comply with emergency procedures for evacuating passengers, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

An Azerbaijani Airlines (AZAL) Airbus-319 with 121 passengers and seven crew skidded off the runway at the Istanbul airport today while landing. There were no serious injuries reported.

Istanbul airport director Jalal Ozugur told RFE/RL that the crew requested a staircase be brought to the plane instead of activating evacuation slides to enable passengers to leave the aircraft.

He said that resulted in a five-minute delay in getting people off the plane while there was a risk the aircraft could catch fire.

AZAL spokesman Maharram Safarli said he had no information about any problems during the evacuation.

He said a joint commission was investigating the reasons for the bad landing, which he said was perhaps caused by the pilot failing to reduce speed upon landing.

The aircraft's engine was reportedly damaged.