Nose Gear Fails Sending Southwest Jet Skidding 2,000 Feet Down Runway

PHOTO: The nose gear of a Southwest plane landing at New Yorks LaGuardia Airport collapsed as the aircraft landed on the runway on July 22, 2013.
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The front landing-gear of a Southwest flight collapsed shortly after touching down at New York's LaGuardia Airport, causing minor injuries to at least 10 people on board as the front of the jet slammed into the ground.

The nose gear of Southwest Flight 345 from Nashville, Tenn., collapsed Monday when it landed at 5:40 p.m., sending the jet skidding at least 2,000 feet down the asphalt, authorities said.

Flames shot out of the nose of the Boeing 737 as it scraped along the runway, according to video that caught the landing on tape. There was no advance warning of any possible problem before the landing, according to Thomas Bosco, acting director of aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Passengers said they felt two hard thuds as white smoke filled the cabin without warning.

"The whole plane just went down very quickly and that's when the door blew in," passenger Marta Bordeaux said.

The 150 passengers and crew evacuated the plane via emergency slides.

"Just want to get on the ground and kiss the earth," passenger Alan Radford said.

Officials say 10 passengers were treated at the scene, and six were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Four crew members were also taken to a local hospital for evaluation. The airport was immediately shut down in the aftermath of the incident, but reopened one runway more than an hour later with delays.

In the tower at the airport, air traffic controllers scrambled to roll emergency equipment and stop other flights after the crash.

"Emergency vehicles proceed on to runway four. Next arrivals are going around," one controller said over the radio, according to a recording from LiveATC.net

Emergency crews were seen spraying foam toward the front end of the plane on the tarmac.

Bobby Abtahi, an attorney trying to catch a flight to Dallas, was watching from the terminal and heard a crowd reacting to the accident.

"I heard some people gasp and scream," he told The Associated Press. "I looked over and saw sparks flying at the front of the plane."

The Port Authority was able to remove the plane and reopen Runway 4 later this morning, but delays continue as the airport begins to resume normal operations

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