143 passengers witnessed a miracle escape as a charter 737 plane skid off the runway and into a river in Florida, US.
- The plane had 136 passengers and 7 crew when it ditched into the St John’s river in Jacksonville.
- The plane was a military charter which was coming from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
- The jet was attempting to land at the naval airport in a thunderstorm when it skidded off the runway.
- 21 adult passengers suffered minor injuries and were taken to the Jacksonville naval hospital.
A Boeing 737 commercial jet belonging to charter carrier Miami Air International ended up skidding off the runway and crashed into the St Johns river while landing at a naval airport in Jacksonville. There however are no fatalities as all 143 passengers and crew are safe barring a few minor injuries.
The Miami Air International flight, a military-charter, tried to land in a thunderstorm at the naval air station in Jacksonville. As per a statement from the Naval airport, the flight was coming in from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba when it slid off the runway at around 9.40 pm local time and splashed into the St Johns river.
The charter company operates a ‘rotator’ roundtrip service between the US and Guantanamo on a bi-weekly schedule, on a military contract, as per Bill Dougherty, a spokesman for the Jacksonville base.
The flight is made every Tuesday and Friday from the Norfolk naval station in Virginia to the Jacksonville air station and to Cuba. It then flies the same route back to Virginia with a stopover in Jacksonville.
All alive and accounted for
The plane ditched in shallow waters which made sure that the 136 passengers and 7 crew on board were not fatally injured in the accident. There were a few minor injuries and 21 adult passengers were transported to local hospitals.
The mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry said that everyone on the plane was “alive and accounted for”. He also said that teams were working to check the spread of jet fuel in the shallow waters.
“The plane was not submerged. Every person is alive and accounted for,”
Curry also noted that President Donald Trump had been in touch and had offered help. Most of the passengers were linked to military personnel. They were evacuated from the plane’s wings onto a raft. The passengers typically consist of military personnel, family members, contractors and other civilians, but the exact count in this case is still unknown.
A really hard and terrifying landing
Lawyer Cheryl Bormann who was one of the passengers aboard the aircraft told CNN that the flight had been four hours late in departing. She further added that the landing was really hard amid thunderstorm and lightning. She explained her terrifying experience:
“We came down, the plane literally hit the ground and bounced, it was clear the pilot did not have total control of the plane, it bounced again,”
A miracle with no fatal injuries
The base in Jacksonville is a centre for anti-submarine warfare and pilot training. It is also home to Naval Hospital Jacksonville.
As per reports, water did not enter the cabin of the plane, but passengers were appreciated by the rescue personnel for the orderly manner in which they evacuated the plane. Capt. Michael Connor, commanding officer for Naval Air Station Jacksonville, said in a press conference:
“I think it is a miracle. It could have ended very differently.”
Tom Francis, who is the spokesperson for Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department also expressed relief at the lack of serious injuries:
“To say that I was wiping sweat off my brow would be an understatement,”
Rescue and monitoring efforts are underway
The US Navy’s security and emergency response team are at the scene of the accident and are monitoring the situation, a statement said. Details on what led to the plane skidding off the runway and into the river are yet to be released. It is also yet unclear if the thunderstorms in the area was a contributing factor in the lead up to the crash.
The charter airline Miami Air International’s representatives have been unreachable as yet. A spokesperson of Boeing, which makes the 737 Plane involved in the accident’ confirmed that the company was aware of the crash and was in the process of gathering information. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has started its investigations into the accident.
- The Charter Airline’s representatives were unavailable for comments in the wake of the accident.
- Boeing, the maker of the 737 planes said it was aware of the incident and was gathering information.
- It is as yet unclear if the thunderstorms in the area were a contributing factor to the crash.
- National Transportation Safety Board has commenced its investigation into the accident.