MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A plane arriving from Santo Domingo at Miami International Airport caught fire after it made a crash landing, tearing through structures before coming to rest in a grassy area.
Red Air flight 203, with 130 people on board, along with 10 crew members, made an emergency landing at around 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, after something went wrong with the landing gear.
Dozens of first responders flooded the runway in emergency mode, as rush hour drivers on and near the busy State Road 836 did double takes and then began recording video, documenting and commenting on the danger.
“Incredible. Driving home, and just saw this plane catch fire,” said a witness as he shot cellphone video.
“What happened here is a miracle,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Levine Cava, who had landed on a separate flight from Philadelphia, came to the scene in the aftermath.
“Apparently a tire burst, and then it went back up and came back down, and the landing was so hard, that the entire landing apparatus was destroyed and the belly of the plane is on the ground,” she said.
The plane collided with several objects and steered off the runway, between the runway and the taxiway.
A crane tower that was standing in its path was taken out by the plane, along with a small building in the area. The tower could be seen wrapped around the right wing of the plane, where the fire also ignited.
Fire rescue crews responded to the scene and were able to quickly douse out the flames using foam trucks.
The plane was evacuated.
Those on board appeared to be in good shape. However, according to Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue, three people suffered injuries. Two were transported to Jackson West Hospital and the third was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
7News spoke with passengers and their worried families once they finally were reunited inside the terminal.
“I thought I was going to die,” said passenger Paola Garcia.
“This could be my last time, and then I just went down,” said another passenger.
“All the windows were broken, and someone like, broke his leg and arm. Horrible,” said Garcia.
“I saw the fire, I saw the smoke. It was dark, actually,” said passenger Paolo Delgado. “Then there was like an apparent smell or something. I don’t know, maybe it was the, I don’t know, some parts of the aircraft that flew off.”
“The plane was like jumping and jumping and jumping,” said Garcia.
“People were, like, screaming all around. I don’t know, like panic,” said Delgado.
“I started running, and I jumped, and I thought it was going to explode,” said Garcia.
Garcia and others ran to the exit as soon as the plane came to a stop. They made their way across the tarmac as black smoke billowed into the sky.
Passengers were loaded onto buses, as they looked back at the plane surrounded by smoke and first responders, happy to be alive and reunited with their families.
The runways on the south side of the airport, near the 836 Expressway, remain closed. As of Wednesday afternoon, the plane was still on the tarmac surrounded by fire trucks.
Wednesday afternoon, Red Air passengers who were on board the flight aired their frustrations at an MIA terminal as they tried to retrieve their luggage.
“No one is here for telling us what is happening,” said a passenger who identified himself as Reiner. “I have another flight today, and I don’t have my stuff.”
“We don’t know if they’re going to contact us about our belongings,” said passenger Mercedes Otero.
MIA travelers should check with their airlines to see if their flights have been affected.
Commissions of the Dominican Institute of Civil Aeronautics, together with authorities from the National Transportation Safety Board, have initiated investigations to determine the circumstances behind the crash.
The airline had a flight scheduled to depart MIA at 8 p.m., Wednesday.
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