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Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 16:19 UK

Hole in US plane forces landing

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the hole

The US carrier Southwest Airlines has inspected about 200 planes after a hole opened up in the passenger cabin during a flight, forcing an emergency landing.

The one-foot-square (30cmx30cm) hole appeared as the Boeing 737 was flying from Nashville to Baltimore on Monday.

Passenger Brian Cunningham told NBC television he had been woken up by "the loudest roar I'd ever heard", and saw the hole above his seat.

People then calmly put on oxygen masks, he said. No-one was injured.

The plane, with 131 passengers and crew on board, made the emergency landing in Charleston, West Virginia.

"After we landed... the pilot came out and looked up through the hole, and everybody applauded, shook his hand, a couple of people gave him hugs," Mr Cunningham said.

The cause of the damage is not known.

On Tuesday Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis told the Associated Press news agency that the airline had inspected 200 Boeing 737-300 jets across the country overnight.

No similar problem was identified and Southwest is operating a normal schedule of flights, she said.



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