Jet blast at iconic Sint Maarten airport kills New Zealand woman

July 13 (UPI) — A New Zealand woman died in the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten after a jet engine blast knocked her down at the Princess Juliana International Airport, local police said.

The incident in the Dutch territory occurred Wednesday at the tourist destination popular because of the airport’s proximity to a beach. Police said the 57-year-old woman was holding on to the airport’s fence before the wind blast of a passenger plane’s jet engine threw her backwards and she hit her head into concrete.

The woman was transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center, where she died from head injuries, police added.

Rolando Brison, Sint Maarten’s tourism director, confirmed the incident to the New Zealand Herald.

“I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognized 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,” Brison said.

The woman’s death is believed to be the first death related to a jet blast at the iconic airport. The beginning of the runway is about 160 feet from the Maho beach fence.

Following the incident, police in Sint Maarten released a statement warning visitors to take precautions near the runway.

“The landing and taking off of all types and size of aircraft 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 aircraft 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.”

In 2012, a similar incident occurred in the airport when a woman holding on to the fence was blown back by a jet engine blast. She sustained minor injuries.

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