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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Stuck plane freed from runway tarmac
British Airways Boeing 777
A truck was borrowed to release the stricken plane
A British Airways plane which became stuck in the tarmac of a runway on the Caribbean island of Antigua, has been pulled free.

The Boeing 777 was released by a truck borrowed from an American air base.

The jet with 140 passengers on board became stuck after landing on a runway which had just been resurfaced.

It had arrived from London Gatwick in the UK but was due to carry on to the neighbouring island of St Lucia and was just taking off when its wheels sank into the tarmac.

St Lucia beach
The delights of St Lucia will have to wait

The captain tried to use the power of the engines to move it but when it became obvious it was going nowhere, he ordered its evacuation.

According to an airport spokesman, the runway had earlier in the day been resurfaced and had set properly.

The British Airways plane, he said, was unfortunately the biggest aircraft to arrive.

Scores of British tourists have been left stranded on the Caribbean island.

'Unfortunate'

About 140 passengers on a BWIA West Indies Airways flight to Heathrow and a similar number on the BA jet were delayed by the incident along with about 400 tourists booked on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Gatwick, who had gone through check-in and security before the incident occurred.

Bob Bone, of west London, who was booked to fly on the Virgin flight, said: "The situation is unfortunate.

"The passengers on the BWIA and BA flights are stranded and the airports have told them it is not their problem."

Releasing the plane was an immediate problem as there appeared to be nothing large enough to pull it on the island.

The airport, the VC Bird International which is near the island's capital of St John's on the popular holiday destination, has now been reopened and the runway repaired.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tim Willcox
"There are worse places to be stranded"
Passenger Simon Nestel
"We had no idea that the plane had got stuck"
See also:

03 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
01 Sep 00 | Europe
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
14 May 02 | Americas
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