An El Al passenger plane was badly damaged when its wing accidentally grazed a perimeter fence on a runway at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands’ main hub for international traffic.
The accident Friday morning at Schiphol, in which no one was injured, ruptured the tip of the wing of the El Al Boeing 737 airplane as it taxied on the runway with 150 passengers aboard, a Schiphol Airport spokesperson told the Dutch AT5 television channel.
The plane, which was headed to Israel, bumped into the fence while being pushed back by a Schiphol vehicle. The passengers were evacuated from the plane and housed in hotels as El Al’s expense. They are to stay in the Netherlands at least until Saturday evening, as El Al will be unable to bring them back to Israel before Shabbat.
The accident attracted considerable media attention in the Netherlands, where an El Al cargo plane in 1992 crashed into an Amsterdam housing project, killing 47 people and prompting the establishment of several committees of inquiry amid persistent rumors that the flight carried weapons and substances connected to biological and chemical arms.
No evidence was found for the presence of such materials aboard when the plane crashed due to what aviation experts described as a freak mechanical malfunction.