19 Injured In Emergency Landing At London’s Heathrow

LONDON (AP) — Investigators are planning to speak to the pilots and study the flight data recorder of a British Airways jet that crash-landed Thursday at London’s Heathrow airport.

The jet was carrying 152 people from Beijing when the incident took place. Officials say at least 19 people were injured, including one person who British Airways says suffered a broken leg.

A witness says the wheels of the Boeing 777 appeared to collapse as it came down in the grass in front of a runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The rough landing tore the plane’s underbelly and damaged its wings. The plane skidded to a halt, and the emergency chutes deployed. Everyone on board escaped safely, but eight people were hurt. Their injuries are said to be minor.

Witness John Rowland tells the BBC, “Debris was flying everywhere.” He says, ‘”There was an enormous bang and it skidded sideways.”

A passenger says he noticed nothing strange until the plane was about to land. he says after the landing gear was extended, the plane “just dropped.” He says he saw the pilot afterward, and that “he looked very pale.”

Europe’s busiest airport had to temporarily halt departures and arrivals as emergency crews worked at the scene. More than 200 flights were canceled. One flight that was delayed was the one carrying British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a delegation of business leaders to China. That flight was waiting to take off at the time of the crash.

An aviation analyst says the landing gear punched through both wings, indicating a “massive vertical impact.” He says that suggests a total loss of engine power may have been the cause.

Two of the plane’s giant wheel units were ripped from the craft during the landing.