Passengers describe the landing

LONDON (Reuters) - Passengers and eye-witnesses described how the plane hit the ground before the runway:

ROYSTON WEYMAN, a witness, said the plane had been veering to one side as it approached the ground “then it belly flopped onto the grass at the beginning of the airport and skidded along the grass. It hit the tarmac and skidded 45 degrees. The chutes came out and the passengers were off very quickly.”

Weyman said fire engines took a few minutes to arrive at the scene. “It looks like they weren’t aware there was going to be a problem,” he said, adding that at no time had he seen flames.

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STEVE BELL, a passenger, told BBC News 24 that the wheels were not down on landing which made a “grating noise” that was heard from some distance. “It turned about 90 degrees on landing,” he said. “Within minutes fire crews arrived and evacuated all the passengers.”

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FERNANDO PRADO spoke of his relief at surviving the incident and how lucky he felt. “I won the lottery today,” he told BBC News. He said the landing gear had appeared to fail.

“Everything was over quickly. We were then evacuated.”

He said the crew acted with professionalism and no passengers panicked. “There was no panic at all,” he added.

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JEROME ENSINK, another passenger, said the plane came down about 100 yards from the runway. The oxygen masks came down and it suddenly struck him that it was a rough landing, he told Sky News.

He said it was only later that it dawned on him how close it had been.

“These are incidents that happen once in a while,” he added.