Aircraft skids off runway and ends up in river in Jacksonville, US
A passenger plane slid off a runway in the US state of Florida on Friday night, 3 May 2019, ending up in a river after landing during a thunderstorm. 21 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries, officials said. The chartered Boeing 737, operated by Miami Air International, had flown from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to a military base in the city of Jacksonville. Passengers say it landed heavily in the storm, skidding into St John's River. The 136 passengers and seven crew members on board evacuated the Boeing 737-800 via its wings. "No fatalities reported. We are all in this together," Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry wrote on Twitter after the incident.
A spokesperson at Naval Air Station Jacksonville told The Washington Post that the flight was a regularly operated trip. Coincidentally, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue division had trained its Special Operations team and marine units in protocol for a similar incident earlier on Friday.
On Saturday a spokeswoman for the US Navy in Jacksonville said that at least four pets checked into the luggage area were presumed to have died due to flooding. "There's water in the cargo hold," Kaylee LaRocque told media. "We are so sad about this situation, that there are animals that unfortunately passed away."
Senior Navy officials were told that all passengers on the plane were housed overnight on cots on at the hospital at the base in Jacksonville. Crew members were planning to get back on the plane on Saturday to recover what they could from overhead luggage bins.
One passenger on the plane, Cheryl Bormann, described the "terrifying" moment it slid off the runway. "The plane literally hit the ground and bounced, it was clear the pilot did not have total control of the plane, it bounced again," she said. "We were in the water. We couldn't tell where we were, whether it was a river or an ocean," she said, adding that she could smell jet fuel leaking into the river.
In a news conference, Captain Michael Connor, commanding officer at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, said it was a "miracle" that there had been no serious injuries or fatalities. Miami Air International is contracted by the US military for its twice-weekly "rotator" service between the US mainland and Guantanamo Bay, Bill Dougherty, a base spokesman said. Officials say the people on Friday's flight included civilian and military personnel.
It was not immediately clear what caused the plane to overshoot the runway, but it landed in a thunderstorm, with lightning nearby and heavy rain on the runway, according to the Weather Network. Boeing released a statement sharing its "well wishes" with those on board. It said it was providing technical assistance to the US National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident. The aerospace giant has been under increased scrutiny following two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max 8 planes, a different model to the one involved in the incident on Friday.
Source: BBC and Washington Post