Brit Plane Makes Crash Landing

The wing of a British plane carrying 48 passengers and crew touched the runway during an emergency landing Tuesday, after the craft's landing gear apparently failed to open, officials and passengers said.

There were no serious injuries aboard the British Regional Airlines turboprop as it landed at Liverpool Airport. It had circled for nearly three hours to burn off fuel.

"On touchdown the left-hand wing touched the runway," said airline spokesman Michael Bathgate. "There were some sparks. The aircraft came to a stop perfectly safe."

He said the 44 passengers left the plane via emergency chutes. Two passengers were taken to a local hospital, where one was treated for whiplash and another for minor shock.

Passengers aboard the flight commended the pilot for his handling of the emergency.

"The captain was fantastic and the stewardesses were great even though they were panicking inside," passenger Philip Ewing told British television broadcaster BBC.

The problem with the aircraft's landing gear was noticed shortly after takeoff from Manchester Airport for an 80-minute flight to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Bathgate would only say that the pilot had a problem with the left-hand undercarriage. But passenger Philip Ewing said they were told that one of the gear's wheels wouldn't come down.

"In the last few minutes it was absolute panic," said passenger Sarah Groogan. "The captain's last words were, 'I hope to see you all inside the terminal building.'"

The plane diverted to Liverpool Airport, 30 miles west of Manchester, where a full emergency was declared. Fifteen ambulances awaited the plane's landing, while four fire engines plus numerous specialist support teams were also at the scene. Police closed roads around the airport.

Witnesses who live near the airport said they were terrified at how close the plane came to their houses.

British Airways said experts from Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch would investigate the incident.

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