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Miraculous escape after 737 crash – but pets not so lucky

May 6, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In an amazing escape, all 143 people aboard a Boeing 737-800 survived a plane crash when the aircraft slipped off a runway in the US and plunged into an alligator-infested river – but their animal companions were less fortunate.

After the 737 skidded and crashed off the runway at an airport in Jacksonville, Florida, all 136 passengers and seven crew aboard the aircraft survived. The only injuries were minor.

The pilot landed in the middle of a thunderstorm, but it remains to be seen if that contributed to the accident.

Local media reported that 21 adults were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries after the plane plummeted into the St Johns River, a known haunt of alligators. A four-metre alligator weighing over 300 kilograms was caught there in 2016.

The flight that crashed at the weekend was a military charter, rather than a scheduled passenger operation. The night-time charter Boeing 737-800 operated by Miami Air International flew between two US Naval Stations – from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

A woman who was on the flight told CNN host Don Lemon that the plane landed during a thunderstorm and then “bounced” before hurtling into the river. Oxygen masks descended.

“It was terrifying,” she said.

“We were in the water, we couldn’t tell where we were, whether it was a river or an ocean.”

Sadly, although the humans aboard all survived, some animals are feared drowned. These were not “emotional support animals” such as guide dogs, that often accompany their owners on flights in the US, but pets travelling in a special section of the plane devoted to their welfare.

USA Today quoted Kaylee LaRocque, a spokeswoman for the US Navy in Jacksonville, saying the animals were still on the aircraft and presumed dead.

Although the plane landed in the river shallows and is not completely under water, the lower section, where the pets were travelling, is submerged.

“There’s water in the cargo hold,” LaRocque said. “We are so sad about this situation, that there are animals that unfortunately passed away.”

Written by Peter Needham

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