MADRID, Spain – A woman who survived this week's plane crash in Madrid said Saturday the aircraft struggled to gain altitude and one of its wings dipped sharply before the plane went down.
Ligia Palomino Riveros, a 42-year-old Colombian-born Spaniard, also told The Associated Press that after a technical malfunction forced the pilot to abandon a first takeoff attempt, she was under the impression the airline was going to switch planes.
Palomino Riveros said two buses had been brought in next to the Spanair MD-82 bound for the Canary Islands and she thought these were to take passengers to another plane. They did not.
Only 19 people survived Wednesday's crash at Madrid's airport, which killed 153 people. Palomino Riveros, who suffered a broken leg and a broken rib, was traveling with her husband Jose Flores, who also survived, and his sister, who died.
Palomino Riveros sounded tired and weak as she spoke in a telephone interview from her hospital bed. She said she heard nothing to suggest an engine exploded, as some press reports have said.
The plane crashed on its second takeoff attempt, after Spanair dealt with what it has called a minor problem in an air temperature gauge near the cockpit.
As the plane took off a second time down the runway, Palomino Riveros recalls it "was moving very slowly" but eventually it became airborne.
"But then it made a turn, as if the wing dropped abruptly," she said. "We were still very low, very close to the ground."
As the plane got higher, it began to "wobble from side to side," she said, describing this as the last thing she remembers before the crash.
Palomino Riveros, an emergency medical worker herself, said she lost consciousness, then woke up on the ground after hearing a loud noise.
She was so disoriented she thought a dead man nearby was her husband, and she shouted "Wake up, wake up, wake up!" at him before realizing it was a different man.