A passenger jet from a new low-cost airline from the Dominican Republic crash landed at Miami International Airport on Tuesday evening, bursting into flames, injuring three people but killing none of the 126 people on board.
Firefighters successfully doused the billowing flames that engulfed RED Air Flight 203 after it suffered a landing gear malfunction, skidded on the runway and came to a stop on a grassy area. Social media posts showed passengers scampering away from the plane, some holding their children, some rolling their carry-on luggage, others taking video with cellphones.
“When our fire crews arrived they saw the wing of the aircraft was on fire. they quickly began working on putting out the fire utilizing specialized foam trucks,” Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Erika Benitez said. “All passengers were off the aircraft.”
The three injured people were taken to local hospitals, Benitez said, as fire crews worked to “mitigate” a fuel spill on the runway.
Passenger Mauricio Davis, of Weston, Florida, said that when people saw they fire, they began screaming and panicking.
“People were very frightened,” said Davis, who was returning from Venezuela and caught the connecting flight in Santo Domingo.
The plane “scraped” the south runway closest to Perimeter Road, nearest the Dolphin Expressway, and hit nothing else, according to airport spokesman Gregory Chin. The crash spurred officials to close two runways, delaying several flights. But the busiest section of the airport — the north end, where American Airlines handles 70% of the air traffic — was not affected, he said.
There were no other RED Air flights scheduled for Tuesday, Chin said.
The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 was arriving from the Dominican Republic, the home base for RED Air, a carrier founded last year — the nation’s fourth — with hopes of expanding across Latin America.
The airline recently announced that, starting in July, it would be offering more than 20 weekly flights between the United States and the island nation. According to aviacioneline.com, the carrier is also authorized to operate flights to Tampa, Costa Rica, Medellín and Cartagena in Colombia, Panama and Caracas, Venezuela.
But for now, the new Dominican airline boasts just four aircraft and over 50 employees, and is currently only flying routes between Santo Domingo and Miami.
What exactly caused the malfunction remained unclear. It was unclear if Red Air on Tuesday night had released any statements on the crash — its Twitter page, which boasts just over 300 followers, had not sent a tweet since Sunday.
The flight originated at Las Américas International Airport, the country’s chief airport. The Federal Aviation Administration said it will investigate.
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