Sixteen people were hurt when a Southwest Airlines flight that departed from Nashville International Airport landed without its front landing gear Monday evening at New York LaGuardia.
Flight 345 touched down about 5:40 p.m. ET after its front landing gear apparently did not properly deploy.
Six people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The jet's six
crew members were taken to another hospital for observation.
A spokesperson for the Port Authority said the Boeing 737-700 aircraft "had a nose gear issue upon landing on runway 4 at LaGuardia."
"It was more like a car wreck, like being smashed in a car wreck," said Nashville resident Bill Roland.
"I just looked up and looked to the right, out the right side of the plane. There was just this fireball going down the runway," said Steve Czech, who witnessed crash.
The FAA is investigating, and officials said the flight crew had reported possible front landing gear issues before landing. The plane's nose gear then collapsed as the aircraft landed, according to the FAA.
The plane had departed Nashville about 2 p.m. with 150 people on board, including passengers and crew members.
The front of the Boeing 737 could be seen resting on the runway with the emergency chutes deployed. Witnesses reported seeing passengers exit the plane on the chutes. Passengers were then bussed to the terminal from the airfield, officials said.
The airport fire department sprayed foam outside the plane due to a chemical leak, but officials have not said what the chemical might be.
"The only thing I felt was a hard landing. I thought it was just a bump, a terrible job of the pilot, but I didn't realize what happened until I actually left the plane," said passenger Eric Westmass.
All runways at LaGuardia International Airport were closed Monday evening as a safety precaution. One runway reopened about two hours later, while the other runway will remain closed until further notice, the Port Authority said.
The NTSB said it is monitoring the situation and will know later whether they will launch a team to investigate.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines said:
"Southwest Airlines flight 345 landed at New York's LaGuardia at 5:40 PM Eastern Monday evening from Nashville. The aircraft is a Boeing 737-700. Eyewitness reports indicate the aircraft's nose gear collapsed upon landing. There were 150 people on board including Customers and Crew. All Customers have been deplaned and transferred to the terminal. Initial reports indicate local responders are caring for five Customers and three flight attendants who have reported injuries at this time. Southwest is cooperating with local authorities, and the NTSB has been notified."
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Thursday, December 5 2013 2:44 AM EST2013-12-05 07:44:00 GMT
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