A DHL Boeing 757-200 cargo plane broke in half after skidding off the runway as it was attempting an emergency landing at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The aircraft lost its tail and went up in smoke during the crash-landing.
Juan Santamaria International Airport officials said the accident forced the shutdown of flight operations resulting in at least 32 flights from North, Central and South America being diverted to alternate airports.
A spokesperson for the local fire department said the plane landed right in front of the fire station and firefighters responded to the scene within one minute.
The pilot and co-pilot of the crashed DHL jet evacuated to safety and received only minor injuries, according to Hector Chaves, the head of the Fire Department.
According to Luis Miranda Munoz, deputy director of Costa Rica’s civil aviation authority, the plane was heading to Guatemala and apparently had a failure in the hydraulic system.
The accident happened just before 10:30 am local time (1630 GMT) after the plane, which had taken off from the Juan Santamaria international airport outside San Jose, was forced to return 25 minutes later for an emergency landing due to a mechanical failure.
DHL released a statement, promising an investigation.