Published on Thursday, July 13, 2017

Woman thrown to her death by jet engine blast on Caribbean beach

A woman has died on a Caribbean island after being knocked to the ground by the blast from a powerful jet engine.

The incident happened at the Princess Juliana International Airport at Sint Maarten, which is famous for being so close to the beach.

Many holidaymakers come to the beach specifically because planes fly so low over part of it.

Beachgoers can walk up to the airport fence as planes take off but are warned of the dangers of getting too close.

Police said the 57-year-old woman, from New Zealand, had been holding on to the fence before the force of the jet engines of the plane, reportedly a Boeing 737, threw her backwards and she hit her head on a concrete block.

She was taken to hospital for treatment, but died later.

The start of the airport's runway is just 50m from the beach fence.

Despite warning signs, videos circulating online show tourists clinging to the fence to prevent being blown away and even almost being lifted off the ground.

The island's tourism director, Rolando Brison, told the New Zealand Herald he had spoken to the family of the victim.

"I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognised that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret that risk they took turned out in the worst possible way," he said.

Sint Maarten police said they visit the area daily to discourage tourists from clinging to the runway fence.

"The landing and taking off of all types and size of aircrafts at the international airport of Sint Maarten is well known worldwide as major tourist attraction," police said.

"Many tourists come to the island to experience the thrills of the landing of approaching aircrafts flying low above their heads and the holding on to the airport fence and standing in the jet blast of large aircraft taking off. Doing this is, however, extremely dangerous."

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  • tear down the wall!

    The fence, the back-draft, getting blown down the beach into the sea - all looks like great fun. The danger lies specifically in the 2 low walls: the first that people trip over and the second that they smash their heads into, Surely that second one could be removed, or perhaps just wrapped in the kind of cushions they put round pylons on ski slopes?

    By ex Severn, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

  • The lure.

    Of course people lock to this stretch of road in order to get a thrill of having a huge aircraft land just feet above your head or to be right behind a jumbo taking off. The signs say not to hold on to the fence, you have a choice, observe the warnings or not. I do hope this tragic accident doesn't curtail this unique experience for everyone.

    By William Staines, Friday, July 14, 2017

  • Only a matter of time

    Of course the authorities could just close off that narrow stretch of beach over the flight path, problem solved at a stroke but of course getting a blow-dry from a 747 'hair dryer' is one of the islands most popular tourist attractions, so I doubt anything will change and you can't blame them really. Tourists just have to exercise common sense.

    By Keith Standen, Thursday, July 13, 2017

  • Airport authorities need to look at that fence

    Seriously? Darwin Awards was not my instinctive reaction... If this tragic accident had happened to my relative, I'd be wondering not about how stupid she was, but how anybody got so close in the first place. It sounds like a criminal failure of responsibility on the part of the airport authorities.

    By Richard Trillo, Thursday, July 13, 2017

  • Must qualify as.....

    ...... a "Darwin Awards 2017" contender..

    By Peter Mannell, Thursday, July 13, 2017

  • Must qualify as.....

    ...... a "Darwin Awards 2017" contender..

    By Peter Mannell, Thursday, July 13, 2017

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