(Adds passengers' comments, pilot details)
WARSAW Nov 1 No one was hurt when a Boeing 767
flying from Newark, New Jersey, with some 230 people on board,
made an emergency landing at Warsaw's airport on Tuesday after
trouble with landing gear.
"All safety procedures worked perfectly fine and, thanks to
this, nobody was injured," said Leszek Chorzewski, spokesman for
the Polish national flag carrier LOT, operator of the plane.
Live television footage showed the Boeing craft
landing on its belly, with a few sparks flying as it hit the
runway covered with flame retardant foam.
There was no blaze but firefighters hosed the plane with
water and foam seconds after all the passengers were evacuated.
"I thought I would feel like we were hitting the ground
violently, but then we felt (the plane) touching the ground and
that was it," said one of the plane's passengers, Krzysztof
LOT said the hydraulic system responsible for operating the
wing flaps and the landing gear failed, and a backup system
worked only for the flaps -- forcing the emergency landing after
the plane had circled for nearly an hour above Warsaw.
Other passengers spoke of fear and total silence during the
landing. "There were tears, there were tears," said Hubert Waz.
Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski said he would award
state decorations to the crew of the plane after briefly talking
on the phone to the pilot.
"To all those involved, I say thank you with all my heart,"
Komorowski told a news conference.
Capitan Lukasz Wrona is a veteran LOT pilot in his 50s, with
a passion for gliding which may have helped him to land the
plane safely without wheels, local media reported.
The airport was due to remain closed for all other flights
until at least Wednesday morning as LOT conferred with Boeing on
how best to remove the craft from the runway, officials said.
Poland was shocked by an air catastrophe in April 2010, when
a government plane carrying president Lech Kaczynski and 95
others, mostly senior state officials, crashed while trying to
land in thick fog in western Russia, killing all on board.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Marcin Goclowski, Rob
Strybel, writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Rosalind