The Boeing 737-800, en route from Istanbul to Amsterdam, broke into three pieces when it hit the ground short of a runway at Schiphol Airport at 1031 a.m. (0931 GMT, 0431 EST). The fuselage split in two, close to the cockpit, and the tail broke off. The crash site is about two miles (three kilometers) from the runway.
A spokesman for investigators said two pilots and an apprentice pilot were among the dead and confirmed that the stricken plane's flight data recorders had been found and were to be analyzed by experts.
Survivor Huseyin Sumer told Turkish NTV television he crawled to safety out of a crack in the fuselage.
"We were about to land, we could not understand what was happening, some passengers screamed in panic but it happened so fast," Sumer said. He said the crash was over in five to 10 seconds.
Hours after the crash, emergency crews still swarmed around the plane's cockpit.
Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said it was "a miracle" there were not more casualties.