A United Air Lines DC8 airliner with 185 people aboard crash-Landed in a residential neighborhood near Portland International Airport tonight, killing at least 10 persons and demolishing two unoccupied homes, officials said.
A spokeswoman at the airline's headquarters in Chicago said there were 172 passengers and eight crew memabers abord. Another spokes-woman in New York said that the flight, 173, from New York and Denver to Portland, also carried five infants.
"It sounded like we didn't have any power, with air just running over the wings. We hit something, bounced, then landed in some trees and knocked down a house," said passenger Charles Linderman, 31, of Alexandria, Va.
Emergency crews reached the wreckage within minutes because of advance warning that the plane was having trouble, apparently with its landing gear.
The Multnomah County sheriff's office said there were 10 known dead, including three children, and 31 injured.
Area hospitals said they admitted about 11 critically injured survivors and 12 noncritical. A number of other patients were checked and released.
Dennis Feldman, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, said the plane reported landing gear difficulty on its approach, circled the airport and radioed an emergency to the control tower.
In that transmission to the tower, authorities reported the pilot said: "Mayday! Mayday! Engines are flaming out! We are going down! We're not going to make the airport!" The plane crashed several miles south of the airport at 6:17 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
One survivor said the passengers were clam and had been warned that they were crashing.
"He did land," said a resident of the neighborhood.
It appeared that the pilot tried to set the plane down in a strip of vacant lots, 200 yards long and a block wide.The plane did not burn, but it was surrounded with fuel. The wings and front of the plane -- to the fourth or fifth row of the passenger section -- were sheared off.
The pilot and co-pilot apparently survived. Witnesses said the pilot seemed dazed as he walked away from the wreckage.
"Most of the people got off the plane all right," said Elda Fosback of Eugene, returning from Denver.
A Multnomah County fire department spokesman said, "It was complete luck all the way." Nothing that most survived, he said, "All fataliites were in the front compartment."
The plane knocked down power lines and severed a gas line. There was no report of injuries to people on the ground.
Mr. Richard Walmer, in whose backyard the plane came to rest, said, "I was in the kitchen preparing dinner for my son when I heard the crash... I thought one of the fir trees had fallen down. I looked out in the backyard and it was all black and I heard voices. Some people came and asked us to call the police."
She said more than a dozen people came to her home and some were treated there for minor injuries before being moved elsewhere.
Tereasa Salisbury, who lives beside a demolished house, whose residents were on vacation, said four dazed passengers came to her door and asked for a drink of water.
"They told me that the pilot had told them the planne's landign gear would not work and they had been circling."
She said she heared a loud explosion and then silence when the plane hit.
Mary Wheat, 49, who lives about four blocks from the crash site, said, "It sounded like thunder and there was a flash like lightning. The airplane clipped a light pole right by our apartment and it came down heading west.... He did land. It hit a house."
Survivors were taken to the Free Will Baptist Church and then taken by municipal bus to the airport.
Charles Linderman, 31, of Alexandria, Va., said, "After clearing the mountains, the pilot proceeded to put down gear and there was a tremendous shudder," he said. "My wife and I were sitting just above the wing."
Another survivor said, "we went boom, boom real hard. I didn't know whether I was dead or alive."