Heavy fog caused hundreds of delays and cancellations in Poland Wednesday, following a successful emergency landing the day prior at Warsaw airport.
A Boeing 767 from Newark carrying 231 passengers was forced to crash land on its belly at Warsaw Frederic Chopin airport after the central hydraulic system malfunctioned. The flight circled above the airport for about one hour, while both the airport and passengers prepared for the crash-landing.
None of the passengers or crew aboard were injured. Those aboard were allowed to continue on their way after a medical examination and police questioning. Psychologists were also on hand to help with any trauma passengers may have experienced.
Captain Tadeuz Wrona, who is now considered a hero in Poland, appeared at a news conference Wednesday to explain the incident.
When I stopped on the runway, I still was not sure that everyone was safe because smoke and some burning from friction appeared on the ground, Wrona told The Associated Press. I felt huge relief when the head flight attendant reported that the plane was evacuated.
The emergency landing went so smoothly some passengers thought the plane had landed on its wheels.
The success of the landing brought relief to the country, still grieving from the death of President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others when a plane crashed in heavy fog outside of Smolensk, Russia, in April 2010.
President Bronislaw Komorowski, Kaczynski's successor, plans to bestow state decorations upon the crew and emergency ground workers for their heroic actions.
The plane remains on the tarmac, blocking the intersection of two airport runways. Boeing specialists from the United States are expected in Poland Wednesday to inspect the aircraft and help with the removal.
We have told airlines that the airport will be closed until 4 a.m. on Thursday. If we manage to remove the aircraft more quickly, we will open sooner, Przemyslaw Przybylski, the airport's spokesman, told Reuters.
Flights to Warsaw were rerouted to other Polish airports. However, many of those diverted are postponed or cancelled, due to thick fog.
Krakow airport, Poland's second largest, has been forced to delay many of its flight. One flight was even redirected to an alternative landing site. Smaller airports in Poland are running on limited service or closed entirely.
Heavy fog is not uncommon in Poland during November.