The plane, a cargo jet belonging to the Israeli carrier El Al, departed at 18h10 from Schiphol airport for Tel Aviv. Above the Gooimeer, two of the plane's engines broke off the right wing: A fuse pin on engine 3 sheared inappropriately due to corrosion, leaving the pod to tilt up and right due to gyroscopic forces, knocking engine 4 off the wing too. A China Airlines 747-200F freighter was brought down by the same causes in December 1991.
The crew remained unaware of the extent of the damage, being unable to see the wing. After circling twice the plane returned to the airport and attempted to land. During the approach the flaps were extended, which apparently rendered the plane uncontrollable. At 18h35 the heavily loaded plane crashed into a row of high-rise apartments called Groeneveen. The building caught fire and partially collapsed, destroying dozens of apartments.
The number of casualties was relatively low (43 compared to the 200 or more expected), as the plane did not carry passengers and most residents of the building were not at home at the time of the crash. Some people believe that the number of casualties was higher than 43, as many illegal residents were suspected to have lived in the building. About 45 houses were completely destroyed.