NEW YORK (AP) — A plane from Atlanta skidded off a runway at LaGuardia Airport while landing Thursday, crashing through a chain-link fence and sending passengers saddled with bags and bundled up in heavy coats and scarves sliding down an inflated chute to safety on the snowy pavement.
Delta Flight 1086, carrying 125 passengers and five crew members, veered off the runway at around 11:10 a.m., authorities said. Emergency responders are still assessing people, but any injuries appear to be minor, the Fire Department of New York said.
Images show the plane resting in several inches of snow. Passengers trudged through the snow in an orderly line after climbing off the plane.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said the passengers were bused to a terminal. It said the airline will work with authorities to figure out what caused the crash.
Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the plane is apparently leaking fuel.
Another Port Authority spokesman, Steve Coleman, said both the airport's runways are closed until further notice, which is standard procedure after such incidents. He said everyone on the plane has now gotten off.
The National Transportation Safety Board is headed to LaGuardia.
The Delta flight was landing on LaGuardia's main runway — a stretch of pavement that is 7,003 feet long and 150 feet wide. On the right side of the runway are a taxiway and the airport terminals. On the left is a berm, fence and then the waters of Flushing Bay.
In 2005, a safety buffer was added to the end of the runway at LaGuardia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was updated just last year. Called an engineered material arresting system, the buffer is typically a crushable material that can extend 1,000 feet beyond the runway. It is designed to slow or stop a plane that overruns, undershoots or veers off the side of the runway.
The tires of the aircraft sink into the lightweight material and the aircraft is slows as it rolls through the material.
In the case of Flight 1086, it appears that the jet didn't end in the buffer zone but instead veered off the runway and into the berm separating the airport from Flushing Bay.
LaGuardia is one of the nation's most-congested airports. It's also one of the more difficult ones to land at due to its close proximity to three other busy airports. When rain or snow reduces visibility, the number of landings slows down. The same occurs during high winds.
The airport has had its share of planes mishaps. In July 2013, the front landing gear of a Southwest Airlines flight arriving at the airport collapsed right after the plane touched down on the runway, sending the aircraft skidding before it came to a halt. Ten passengers had minor injuries. Federal investigators found that the jet touched down on its front nose wheel before the sturdier main landing gear in back touched down.
The last deadly crash at LaGuardia happened March 23, 1992, when a US Airways jet carrying 51 people crashed while trying to take off in a snowstorm. The plane skidded part way into the frigid waters of Flushing Bay and 27 people died.
AP Airplane Writer Scott Mayerowitz contributed to this report.
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