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'58 injured in Denver runway accident'

world Updated: Dec 22, 2008 09:46 IST

AFP
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At least 58 people were injured when a Continental Airlines plane veered off the runway and caught fire during takeoff from Denver, Colorado, officials said.

The Boeing 737 was departing from Denver International Airport late Saturday for Houston, Texas, when it "came off the runway," airport spokesman Jeff Green said.

As of early Sunday "the updated number of total injuries is 58 passengers," Green told National Public Radio.

A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board told reporters that 110 passengers and five crew members had been on board the airplane.

"There have been five occupants of the aircraft who have been admitted to the hospital," spokesman Robert Sumwalt told a news conference, giving no details about the severity of their injuries.

"As it departed the runway, the airplane went into a ravine that is approximately 40 feet deep," he said.

"Both main landing gear has been sheared off of the airplane. The nose gear is collapsed. It may be sheared off," he said, adding that the "airplane sits out there right now, it is not resting on any landing gear at all. Its belly is fully on the ground."

Sumwalt reported "extensive fire damage to the right side of the aircraft" and said the interior was "quite burned" with the left engine "separated from the aircraft."

Officials had retrieved the flight data recorders and would analyze them in the coming days, he said.

The people on board Flight 1404 were evacuated via emergency chutes, as crews on scene quickly put out the fire.