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The BBC's David Willis in Los Angeles
"An extraordinary accident could have easily turned into a tragedy"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 March, 2000, 08:06 GMT
US airliner skids off runway
plane next to station
The plane narrowly missed a petrol station
A Boeing 737 with 142 people on board has skidded off the end of a runway at a Los Angeles airport, narrowly missing a petrol station and coming to rest on a major road.

Officials said three or four people suffered minor injuries in the incident, at Burbank international airport, north-east of Los Angeles, on Sunday.

They told us it might be a rough landing, but none of us were expecting this

Passenger Kevin McCoy
At least one car was hit by the plane.

"We are really lucky a lot of people were not travelling on that road because those planes are a lot bigger than cars," Burbank Police Captain Larry Koch said.

Black skidmarks

Passengers said the Southwest Airlines flight 1455 from Las Vegas came in to land very fast.

plane near station
Passengers said they were lucky to escape
"The pilot was screeching. He hit the brakes really hard but you could tell it was not going to be enough," Passenger Ira Leibowitz said.

The plane reportedly left curving black skidmarks on the runway as it tried to stop.

It then broke through the airport's perimeter fence and careered onto the six lane Hollywood Way.

Emergency vehicles rushed to the scene and doused the aircraft with foam as a safety precaution. There was no report of any fire.

Passengers screamed

One passenger told reporters that everyone on board seemed to be yelling and screaming.

Passenger Kevin McCoy said: "They told us it might be a rough landing, but none of us were expecting this. We are very lucky, all of us."

The pilot hit the breaks really hard but you could tell it was not going to be enough

Passenger Ira Leibowitz
Because the front doors of the plane were damaged in the accident, some passengers had to clamber along a wing of the aircraft to reach an emergency chute.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said it was unclear why the aircraft had been unable to stop on landing and it was investigating.

The plane was expected to be towed away from the road before Monday's rush hour.

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22 Dec 99 |  World
A string of accidents
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