At least three people were killed and over hundreds injured after a plane landing in Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Turkey on Wednesday skidded off the runway, crashing into a field and breaking into pieces on Wednesday

The Boeing 737 operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines had flown into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from the Aegean port city of Izmir, NTV television reported.

The plane was apparently buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain lashing Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, “Three Turks were killed and 179 injured”.

According to the television footage, it showed serious damage to the plane, with the fuselage appearing to be broken into three pieces.

Passengers were evacuated from the cracks in the plane’s debris.

The low-cost Pegasus Airlines plane was arriving at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from the western Turkish city of Izmir when it had what the Transportation Ministry initially described as a “rough landing.”

The plane was an 11-year-old Boeing 737, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24.

Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya said the plane landed in bad weather, failed to “hold onto the runway,” and skidded some 55-65 yards before crashing into a ditch from a height of some 30 yards.

He further said that paramedics rushed passengers to 18 different hospitals in total.

“We are deeply saddened… (But) we are very happy that we escaped a greater accident,” he said, adding that the plane could have burst into flames, he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, at least 12 rescue workers were killed and dozens are believed to be trapped in the snow after an avalanche struck the group in Turkey as they were attempting to find two people missing in an earlier avalanche.

Fog, heavy snow and strong winds were hampering the rescue efforts, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV.

More than 50 people are believed to be trapped in vehicles after the second avalanche on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

In January 2018, a Pegasus Boeing 737-800 slid down an embankment at Trabzon airport on the Black Sea and landed just metres from the water with its wheels stuck in thick mud.

After four days, the plane was eventually lifted back onto the runway with engineers using cranes. All 162 passengers and six crew were safely evacuated.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to make Istanbul the world’s top aviation hub and in 2018 opened a new mega-airport in the city of 15 million people.

(With inputs from agency)