January 17, 2008 / 1:20 PM / in 11 years

BA flight crash-lands at Heathrow

LONDON (Reuters) - A British Airways plane on a flight from China crash-landed short of the runway at Heathrow Airport on Thursday. Three people were slightly injured.

Emergency service personnel attend to a British Airways plane that landed short of the runway at Heathrow Airport in London January 17, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

Fire engines smothered the Boeing 777 in foam after it landed with its wings extensively damaged and its undercarriage wrecked.

“I won the lottery today,” Fernando Prado, one of the 136 passengers on board told the BBC after being evacuated by emergency chute.

Another passenger, Steve Bell, said: “It turned about 90 degrees on landing. Its wheels were not down. Within minutes fire crews arrived and evacuated all the passengers.”

An airport spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that BA Flight 38 arriving from Beijing made an emergency landing at 1242. Passengers have been evacuated.”

“The south runway is closed but the north runway is still operating,” the spokeswoman added.

Airport authorities warned that some flights would inevitably now be delayed or cancelled. Normally about 40 flights an hour touch down at Heathrow with a further 40 taking off.

The ambulance service said that three people were slightly injured.

British Airways said they had no comment to offer on why the plane came down.

A spokeswoman for police headquarters at London’s Scotland Yard said “There is nothing to suggest it is terror-related.”

Among the planes delayed was the flight being taken by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on an official trip to India and China.

The pilot on board Brown’s plane announced that an aircraft had been involved in a “fairly significant incident on landing”.

(Additional reporting by Avril Ormsby and Andrew Hough)

Writing by Paul Majendie; Editing by Steve Addison

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