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US jet crash: Miraculous escape for 154 people

December 23, 2009 20:11 IST

At least 91 people were hurt after an American Airlines plane overshot a runway and crashed into a fence in Kingston in Jamaica during bad weather. However, none of the passengers had life-threatening injuries, officials said on Wednesday.

Though 91 passengers were injured in the crash of the plane, which arrived in Kingston from Miami, none of them was reported to be in critical condition. The flight, which originated from Washington, had 154 people aboard -- 148 passengers and six crew members.

Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz said most of the injured had been released from hospitals. Four passengers may have to stay overnight at the hospital, Vaz said.

"The majority of injuries are broken bones and of course cuts and bruises and badly shaken up," Vaz was quoted as saying by CNN.

"Flight 331, the Boeing 737 aircraft, that was en route from Miami International Airport to Kingston in Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport overran the runway on landing," the American Airlines said in a statement.

Tim Smith, an American Airlines spokesman, denied reports that the Boeing 737 broke into pieces but did say that there was damage to the fuselage, some cracks and the landing gear on one side of the plane collapsed.

Earlier, local Jamaican media reported that the plane crashed and broke into two pieces as it overshot the runway on Tuesday night. "The care of our passengers and crew members is our highest priority, and we will offer all the assistance necessary," said Gerard Arpey, the airline's chairman and chief executive officer.

The American Airlines said it is "in direct contact with the officials of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration and is cooperating fully with appropriate authorities."

However, it refrained from speculating on any possible cause of the accident at this point of time. The flight originated from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the Washington, DC, area before landing in Miami and then heading to Jamaica, the airline said.

A Radio Jamaica reporter, Kirk Abraham, said it had been raining in the area when the plane failed to stop and ran into the fence past the end of the runway.

Image: A soldier walks near the wreckage of American Airlines flight AA331, which crashed upon landing at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport, late December 22.
Photograph: Andrew P Smith/Reuters

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