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'It very well could be worse': Lucky escape for passengers on flight which crashed into Florida river

‘It sort of swerved and then it came to a complete crash stop’ a passenger said.
May 4th 2019, 11:45 AM 39,141 26

A BOEING 737 plane skidded off a runway and into a river after crash-landing during a lightning storm in Florida yesterday, officials said. 

The plane carrying 143 people, including crew from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, slammed into shallow waters next to a naval air station in Jacksonville after a hard landing that saw the plane bounce and swerve down the runway, passengers said.

No fatalities or critical injuries were reported and passengers evacuated the plane from the wings.

“As we went down … the plane bounced and screeched, and bounced more and lifted to the right, and then it lifted to the left,” one passenger told CNN.

“And then it sort of swerved and then it came to a complete crash stop,” she said. 

Some oxygen masks deployed and overhead lockers flew open during the landing, she added. 

Some 21 adults were taken to local hospitals but no one was critically injured, Jacksonville sheriff’s office said on Twitter.

Others were treated for minor injuries at the scene. 

Naval Air Station Jacksonville said in a statement that all 136 passengers and seven aircrew on board had been accounted for.

Captain Michael Connor, commanding officer at NAS Jacksonville, told a news conference it was a “miracle” no more serious injuries or fatalities had occurred.

“We could be talking about a different story this evening, so I think there’s a lot to say about, you know, the professionalism of the folks that helped the passengers off the airplane … it very well could be worse,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said a team was being sent to investigate the incident. 

Navy security and emergency response personnel including some 90 firefighters attended the scene.

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry tweeted that the White House had called to offer assistance as the situation was developing. 

“All alive and accounted for. Our Fire and Rescue teams are family to all,” said Curry.

Boeing said it was aware of the incident and gathering information.

The plane involved was a Boeing 737-800, in operation for 18 years, according to website FlightRadar24.

Boeing is under scrutiny following two crashes that killed over 340 passengers and crew and grounded its newer 737 MAX planes worldwide.

Both a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October, and March’s Ethiopian Airlines crash outside Addis Ababa, occurred shortly after takeoff.

With reporting from AFP - © – AFP 2019

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