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Plane fire after landing failure forces emergency exit on Miami runway

Three passengers on the Red Air flight were hospitalized with minor injuries, officials said

Firefighters responded to a Red Air plane that caught fire after the front landing gear collapsed upon landing at Miami International Airport on Tuesday. (Pedro Portal/AP)
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A passenger jet from Dominican Republic-based carrier Red Air caught fire Tuesday after its landing gear collapsed during a rough arrival at Miami International Airport, officials said, triggering an emergency exit and sending three people to local hospitals.

Miami-Dade Aviation Department spokesman Greg Chin said the people who were hospitalized had minor injuries. The plane arrived in Miami from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic around 5:30 p.m., airport and fire-rescue officials said.

Red Air, which launched late last year, said in a statement on Twitter that the 130 passengers and 10 crew members were evacuated from the plane. Earlier reports from the airport said 126 people had been on board.

Video footage shared on social media shows people shouting on the plane as passengers walk down the aisle, exit on an emergency slide and run or walk away from the aircraft. Someone can be heard screaming as smoke billows from the plane. Another video shared by the @onlyindade Twitter account shows the plane that skidded off the runway and into the grass resting on its belly as flames engulf one wing and passengers run screaming from the other side.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Erika Benitez said the department responded to reports of an emergency landing and found one of the plane’s wings on fire.

“They quickly began working on putting out the fire utilizing specialized foam trucks,” she said. “They also did a primary search to ensure that all passengers were off the aircraft.”

Fire crews also had to mitigate a fuel spill, she said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were scheduled to arrive in Miami on Wednesday, spokesman Peter Knudson said in an email.

“The first order of business will be to document the aircraft in its current location on the airfield,” he said. “Once that’s completed later today, investigators will permit the airplane to be moved to another location, where it will be examined further.”

Chin, the aviation department spokesman, said in an email that two of the airport’s four runways were expected to remain closed on Wednesday, which could lead to flight delays. He said travelers should confirm that their flights are on time before heading to the airport.

“All other areas of MIA remain open, and passenger access to the terminal has not been affected,” he said.