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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 11:25 GMT
Boy dies as jet skids off runway
Officials said runway conditions were acceptable

A plane has skidded off the runway at Chicago's Midway airport, slamming into two cars and killing a boy.

Witnesses said the front landing gear collapsed as the Southwest Airlines plane on a flight from Baltimore tried to land in a snowstorm.

A six-year-old boy was killed and six other people inside cars were injured. Two of the plane's 98 passengers suffered minor injuries.

The airport was closed following the accident.

The accident happened at about 1915 (0115 GMT Friday), as Flight 1248 was arriving at Midway.

It got really bumpy, and then a big crashing sound
Passenger Katie Duda

The Boeing 737 slid off the runway, crashed through the airport's north-west perimeter fence and stopped on a road outside.

"It got really bumpy, and then a big crashing sound," passenger Katie Duda told local TV station WMAQ.

"Everyone was very calm. Everyone around me seemed very OK... There was no chaos," said Ms Duda.

The 98 passengers and five crew escaped from the plane using inflatable slides and the rear stairway.

Weather conditions

About seven inches (18cm) of snow had fallen at Midway airport earlier in the day.

The Southwest plane had circled the airport for half-an-hour before it was cleared for landing.

The airline said the captain had a decade's experience, while the first officer had been flying for about two-and-a-half years.

The weather, the state of the runway and the plane's engines are all likely focuses of the investigation which is getting under way.

A local aviation official said runway conditions at the time had been acceptable.

The crash comes exactly 33 years after a United Airlines flight crashed while coming in to land at Midway, killing 45 people.

See the scene at Chicago airport

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